harryknuckles's Reviews > Vernon God Little

Vernon God Little by D.B.C. Pierre
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Jun 02, 2012

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Read in June, 2012

"Huckleberry Finn meets South Park at the Mexican-American border."
Teenager Vernon Gregory Little's life has been changed by the Columbine-style slaughter of a group of students at his high school. Soon his hole-in-the-wall town is blanketed under a media siege, and Vernon finds himself blamed for the killing (rather than the real culprit, his friend Jesus). Eulalio Ledesma is his particular nemesis, manipulating things so that Vernon becomes the fulcrum for the bizarre and vengeful impulses of the townspeople of Martirio. After a truly surrealistic set of events, Vernon finds himself heading for a fateful assignation in Mexico with the delectable Taylor Figueros (everyone in the book has names as odd as the author's).
The description for the book here begins "surprise winner of Booker prize"...yes, I was surprised. I usually really enjoy Booker prize winners and the concept of the novel sounded really interesting. I found that around page 100 I was really laboring to get through the rest, having come too far to abandon it at that point. Plus I was reading it for my book group, so there is always a sense of obligation to finish the book.
There's clear inspiration taken from Catcher in the Rye, but it's like an updated, warped version of it. The author's disgust and revulsion with modern day America is apparent in his vile characters, which are little more than ill-drawn caricatures. The characters are meant to be unreal, they symbolise the plastic, all consuming parasitic society that is becoming an 'unreal' reality. His views with regards to modern society have been expressed before and illustrated far better by other writers. It occasionally made me chuckle, there was the odd well observed comment; sentences are sometimes funny/clever, sometimes overly poetic in a melodramatic way.
This book starts with a great burst of energy which I found very invigorating, but unfortunately and for the most part the writing then became muddled and hard to interpret. I don't mind lots of swearing in books but here it just didn't help and, in addition, if the author had relied on the obvious energy of the text then he would have realised he didn't need swearing to make his point! I struggled through the middle sections, not really caring about the characters, but to my delight I engaged with the trial scenes. Would that they could have been longer! The ending is satisfying, but the strands of the plot were tied up a little too quickly for my liking.
Didn't love it, didn't hate it .... an interesting but not a great book.
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