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Lights Out in Wonderland

3.51  ·  Rating Details ·  1,331 Ratings  ·  150 Reviews
Gabriel Brockwell, aesthete, poet, philosopher, disaffected twenty-something decadent, is thinking terminal. His philosophical enquiries, the abstractions he indulges, and how these relate to a life lived, all point in the same direction. His destination is Wonderland. The nature and style of the journey is all that's to be decided. Taking in London, Tokyo, Berlin and the ...more
Hardcover, 314 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Faber & Faber (first published January 1st 2010)
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Nov 20, 2014 Blair rated it it was amazing
This was BRILLIANT. I'd be happy to be proved wrong, but I am prepared to say now that it's my book of 2010 - I can't imagine that I'm going to come across anything as unique, inspiring and downright excellent in the next few months.

The story begins with Gabriel Brockwell - dreamer, quasi-misanthrope, unfulfilled artist, paradoxically both a pursuer of ultimate decadence and an anti-capitalist - deciding to kill himself... but not quite immediately. The next 300 pages tell the fantastical tale o
(This book was graciously sent to me for free by W.W. Norton & Co. via I think they're going to wish they'd sent it to someone else.)

I hated Catcher in the Rye. I know it's supposed to be some kind of iconic book about about teenage angst or something, but to me Holden Caulfield was just sort of a whiny twit who created most of his problems himself. Boohooo! My parents don't understand me and my lack of effort is resulting in poor school performance and OMG SOMETIMES ADULTS LI
Feb 08, 2011 Leo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bestest

There's a lot going on here. DBC Pierre really goes beyond what he did well in Vernon God Little and takes it to the next level: The little footnotes, the recipes, the little system of neologisms he's created, they all add up to make for a notetaking-worthy read.
Sure, there are some parts where it starts to slow down (the entirety of Tokyo; the beginning of Berlin), but it quickly picks up speed and heads to a completely ludicrous, yet satisfying wrap-up.
And yes, there are some heavy-hand
Dec 05, 2010 E rated it it was amazing
Lights Out in Wonderland begins with these lines:

There isn’t a name for my situation. Firstly because I decided to kill myself. And then because of this idea:

I don’t have to do it immediately.

Whoosh, through a little door. It’s a limbo.

I need never answer the phone again or pay a bill. My credit score no longer matters. Fears and compulsions don’t matter. Socks don’t matter. Because I’ll be dead. And who am I to die? A microwave chef. A writer of pamphlets. A product of our time. A failed studen
Oct 12, 2012 Rozalia rated it really liked it
I fell in love with this book.

I bought it a year ago, at the Parisian Shakespeare & Company bookstore and I have no idea why it took me so long to get it started.

Never in my life have I come across such a relatable character and so many plot twists. I'm sitting here all stunned, in all honesty: I don't know what to say. I'll just leave you with a few quotes:

"There isn't a name for my situation. Firstly because I decided to kill myself. And then because of this idea: I don't have to do it im
Abandoned this, not a great book.
Jan 13, 2013 Emrys rated it liked it
Shelves: adult
Reading this book was an ordeal, and I’m glad it’s over, but I think it was worth it to undertake. DBC Pierre’s first book, Vernon God Little, was a masterpiece. I loved it, and I still do. It was a tiny bit slow to start, and it was a bit of an ordeal too, but the plot was captivating, it had a variety of intriguing characters and some little side plots to keep you interested. I also loved and heavily identifies with the main character.

In LOW… I didn’t. I legitimately hated…I can’t even remembe
Marthe Bijman
Nov 11, 2014 Marthe Bijman rated it liked it
Vicariously living the drug-addled, suicide-obsessed life of the delinquent first-person narrator, Gabriel Brockwell, in DBC Pierre’s Lights Out in Wonderland, was a strange and unnerving experience. But I got through it, mainly because I was too weirded-out to stop reading. The book has nothing to do with Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. The title refers to the fact that, in reality, life is brutal and not nice and people fool themselves into thinking everything will turn out fine - in short: the ...more
Jul 25, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Really, I had a love/hate relationship with this book; and finished it merely to prove it would not win. Surely most of us have fought that battle with a book or two; sometimes to give up and other times to carry on.

There were moments that I thought a paragraph, or 2-3 pages flowed nicely.
Sometimes the writing felt so disjointed I had to put the book down and come back for it to make sense. Though I actually rather liked the style of using foot notes for separate rants - and that was an aspect o
Nov 04, 2010 Benito rated it really liked it
A 'Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas' for the age of the World Financial Crisis. This book is slowly restoring my faith in DBC Pierre. I was wary, having been burnt by his second book after loving his first, and reading a bad review of this latest. Yet when Lisa said "I hated this book but I think you'll like it," I read the first sentence, and then the second and third, and saw immediately in the narrator a like mind. As a self-confessed black sheep of society, as well as of my family, ...more
Feb 04, 2011 Bee rated it it was ok
I don't think my lack of enjoyment of this book was due to the quality of the writing, so please don't let my opinion put you off reading for yourself!

However, I think the book is a bit marmite-y and it just wasn't for me and my poor tired brain this week! The writing is incredible. It's addictive and evocative and as you follow Gabriel Brockwell through his self enforced final days on earth you travel at break neck speed through loathing him and loving him and certainly feel like you've travell
Amy Cremmen
It was hard rating this book, I pondered between 3-5, before settling on 3. I loved the story line, the debauchery in it, and how the book looks at different characters of nature/ nationality, but there were several factors that made me score it lower.

I both liked and disliked the style of writing. Mostly, I loved it. It was descriptive like a poet, but methodical too. But I didn't need the need to use so many asterix*. The odd one or two where information is needed, sure. But I found so many, p
Aug 24, 2011 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Boy, was this book an adventure. I really felt like I was right there with Gabriel on his whole journey from London, to Tokyo, to Berlin. The author made me feel like only I was "in-the-know" and privy to all the psychotic ramblings he had to share. The fact that this book starts off in a mental institution pretty much sets the tone for the whole book. Yeah, Gabriel's effed up, but he doesn't care. He's going to kill him self, ha ha. No worries.

Gabriel isn't really a likable guy though. He's mo
Elizabeth Pietrangelo
Aug 08, 2014 Elizabeth Pietrangelo rated it did not like it
No. No. No. This was an excruciating read. Where to begin? DBC Pierre's protagonist, like Holden Cauflield, is winey, pathetic, and unremarkable. This is the first book I've read where I rooted for the main character's suicide plan. And lousy with unnecessary footnotes! You have to earn footnotes! I stopped reading them early on. I did not want to give the author the satisfaction. Furthermore, Pierre's writing, like his characters, are wrung through the surreal, hallucinogenic washboard one too ...more
Kaj Peters
Sep 10, 2016 Kaj Peters rated it liked it
Just as outrageously decadent and too much as how it portrays capitalism and modern day consumerism. It´s a bit too much for me, but I can appreciate his stylish approach of the subject.
Jan 08, 2015 Nicky rated it it was ok
Whoosh - and out goes the book, again. High spirits are at work here; almost a bit too high to my humble taste. Putain, you have failed me, silly wanker. Never again.
Oct 29, 2010 Katrina rated it really liked it
Enter Ikea stores at your own risk.
Allison Kirkley
Nov 07, 2016 Allison Kirkley rated it it was amazing
“Is there some secret to living that makes its condition irrelevant? A neutering of expectation, a mastery of the mundane? Or have they just grown accustomed to rape.”

For me, this line perfectly encompasses the vague realm of questioning the narrator, Gabriel, searches answers for. The answers, however, are for the reader to conclude rather than the narrator.

As Gabriel goes on his journey of limbo, Marius, and nimbus, the reader can’t help but be confused yet completely intrigued by the assert
Adrian Duran
Nov 08, 2016 Adrian Duran rated it it was amazing
To be frank, my reasons for loving this book might be problematic. Perhaps my eyes have been clouded by too much relating with the protagonist and desires for my own Bacchanal. There is much criticism in the conversation surrounding this book that I did not experience, but that looking back, I understand. It is not a perfect work: I believe the end fell a bit flat and it could be repetitive and verbose at times. Nevertheless, I do believe this is a work of literary merit.
The ideas in this boo
mari reiza
Oct 31, 2016 mari reiza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Find this book very hectic, very funny. Love DBC Pierre.
Sep 10, 2016 Conner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book was recommended to me in the highest terms by a friend as she was reading it. "Sex and drugs in Tokyo, London, and Berlin" she said. Shortly afterwards I stumbled over it in the library and picked it up immediately. I will admit that based on the title and my friend's description I expected a different experience; one more in touch with the Wonderland reference made on the cover. What I found was something altogether different, but not in a disappointing way.
The protagonist of this boo
Mar 23, 2014 Krysten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-starz
Second reading:
Oh, I don't know. I wasn't as enraptured with this book the second time around as I was the first - it lost me toward the end - but I still very much loved and enjoyed it, and I came off it feeling excellent, so I guess the five-star rating shall remain. To me, it's not as narratively cohesive as Vernon God Little (which I also reread a couple weeks ago) but it's a little more, I don't know, thematically substantial? I don't even know if I believe that. I just.. really, really rel
James Dixon
Nov 01, 2012 James Dixon rated it really liked it
I liked 'Lights Out....', and it's pretty obvious that DBC Pierre can write. The same dry, acerbic tone that was used to critique US culture in 'Vernon God Little' is here turned toward the more general nature of Capitalism, and Consumerism, and their creeping impact upon that which we call "the human condition".

Pierre's observations are sharp, scathing, and (depending on your point of view) pretty close to the mark. (This, I think, is most obvious in the footnote thingies, so I'd urge everyone
Oct 09, 2015 Genna rated it it was ok
2 1/2 stars as I fluctuated between quite liking it and just tolerating it, reading it quickly purely to get to the end and hopefully get started on something a bit more "my bag".

Positives: At times it was amusing, at others dark and quite depressing - I think it speaks for the quality of the writing that I found myself a little consumed by the bleakness that the protagonist, Gabriel, describes in terms of consumerism, capitalism, decadence etc. It did make me question the world in which we live
Melbourne Library Service
Mar 16, 2016 Melbourne Library Service rated it really liked it
This is a novel about decadence which has reached global proportions.

Gabriel Brockwell is a 25 year old anti-globalisation activist whose daddy never loved him. He is a hedonist, partial to cocaine and booze in whatever forms they come and we meet Gabriel as he wakes up in rehab (which his father has organised and paid for) and we learn of his desire to kill himself after one last, big blowout.

We follow his flight from rehab, and from England, to Tokyo where his childhood comrade – Nelson Smuts
Julia J
Apr 09, 2012 Julia J rated it liked it
I read "Vernon God Little" a couple of years ago and didn't really like it, but this stuck out to me in the library (why I love libraries: you never know what will catch your eye) so I thought I'd give it a go. i was pleased to find that I enjoyed this book a lot, with a couple of caveats.

The main thing I liked was Gabriel's absurd situation, it ends up dragging you in and I found I wanted to keep reading to see what the twists of fate would have him doing next. The suicidal aspect gave it a nic
Aug 30, 2011 Brenda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
If you were to mix a cocktail of Brett Easton Ellis, J.D. Salinger, and a dash of various decadent writers of the late nineteenth century, you might come up with a concoction that resembles DBC Pierre’s Lights Out in Wonderland. At one point, the narrator directly alludes to many of these fin de siècle celebs as he awaits “the greatest bacchanal since the fall of Rome.” That party, which provides the climax to the novel, is compared to “Des Esseintes’ last stand, Dorian Gray’s big night out, ...more
Jesse Coulter
Dec 02, 2014 Jesse Coulter rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed-books
I was given a copy of this way back when it first came out. I thought it sounded interesting back then and it had tormented me from its place on my shelf ever since, until I finished it this morning. I can’t believe it took me this long to get around to- awesome book!

Our debauched wandering minstrel narrator, Gabriel, is at once likeably blasé and poetic, and a truly hideous, insufferable little shit. There’s a great disconnect between his impressions of himself and his actions and the reality o
Jun 28, 2014 Yasmeen rated it really liked it
3.5 stars probably

This has been sitting on my bookshelf for about a year, and nothing could have made me go through with it other than the prospect of being stuck on a desert island with no other books... which is more or less what happened. I'm quite glad that I did- it's not as annoying/pretentious/choppy as it seems in the first couple of pages.

Actually, the writing is really beautiful at times. Bordering on insane, but pretty. And the book is, honestly, very crazy. But something makes it st
Apr 07, 2012 Ken rated it liked it
LIGHTS OUT IN WONDERLAND is the tale of Gabriel Brockwell, a man who has decided to end it all. He has made up his mind to take his life, but not right away. He wants to spend a little time between Life and Death, or exist in a drug and alcohol fueled Limbo. And during this time of waiting, he wants to promote and indulge in the biggest and wildest party of his life-"Wonderland".

The book is all about excess, how to get it, and how to keep it going. On this level, it's a kind of meditation on th
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DBC Pierre is an Australian-born writer currently residing in Ireland. Born Peter Warren Finlay, the "DBC" stands for "Dirty But Clean". "Pierre" was a nickname bestowed on him by childhood friends after a cartoon character of that name.

Pierre was awarded the Booker Prize for fiction on 14 October 2003 for his novel Vernon God Little.

He is the third Australian to be so honoured, although he has
More about D.B.C. Pierre...

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“Imagine the spirit as a mansion. You’ll guess we don’t use many rooms. Apart from a few moments in childhood we don’t dance around it in sunlight. But there’s a traffic of things in and out, and what happens is that unwanted bulks can gather inside. Gather and gather, menacing us. Unable to shift them, we hide in ever-smaller spaces. And in our last hole, life offers a choice: to play out our demise in parallel theatres - psychosis, zealotry, religion, cancer, addiction - or to bow quietly out. But beware: life doesn’t ask these high questions when we’re confident and fresh - it waits for hopelessness.” 4 likes
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