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Vernon God Little Paperback – 20 Jan 2003


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 1st edition export paperback edition (20 Jan. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571216420
  • ISBN-13: 978-9057593451
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 748,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

If there's any justice, it is only a matter of time before the work of the curiously-named DBC Pierre becomes essential reading for anyone interested in cutting-edge writing today. Vernon God Little is a book that has a totally individual (and very quirky) identity, from a writer with a finger on the pulse of contemporary society (particularly its less comfortable aspects). Pierre is also a satirical writer in the vein of such talents as Terry Southern, and there is a manic quality to his work that makes the experience of reading him both disorienting and exhilarating. As a first novel, this is a remarkable achievement.

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, a friend of Vernon's). 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).

By setting his novel in the barbecue-sauce capital of Central Texas, Pierre ensures that his narrative is going to be some distance from naturalistic writing. And as a scalpel-like satirical incision into the mores of contemporary America, reality TV and media hysteria, Vernon God Little often reads like a fractured modern-day take on such novels as John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

If ever there was an answer to the criticism that theatre is moribund and middle-aged then this production is it… Full of youthful bite and brutal satire of consumer and celebrity culture --Guardian

Tanya Ronder's clever, fluent, and highly enjoyable theatrical adaptation --Independent --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mis Jenner on 28 Aug. 2005
Format: Paperback
God knows I tried my best to learn the ways of this world, even had inklings we could be glorious...
...but Vernon Little's small-town dreams are literally shot to pieces when his confused best friend massacres the teenagers who cruelly persecuted him, before turning the gun on himself and taking the truth with him. Vernon has an alibi, but it's just not good enough for a nation desensitized by the drama of CNN, and begins to realise that the American public need a bit of relish with their truth to stop it sticking in their throats. It ain't what you say, it's whether it comes with flashing neon and a free gift.
DBC Pierre's biting satire is of Big Mac proportions, spanning such diverse issues as justice, the ever-increasing power of the media, and the sordid secrets of humanity that so-called Western civilisation cannot bury, with an irreverence that belies the sharp insights. Pierre sculpted the ideal character for us to follow through these troubled times; Vernon Little may not be the cleverest person around, but he stumbles on 'learnings' that come closer to the truth about what makes us humans behave in the loving, violent way we do, than anything you can find in a textbook. Vernon is a character we as young adults can all identify with; he still carries an almost naive belief that people are essentially good, but cannot quite reconcile that belief with the events happening around him.
The rest of the cast in this 'reality-documentary' are surreal. Believe they are caricatures if you want, but I can see these people around us every day. Vernon's mother is a clingy, disillusioned woman, sliding hysterically into middle-age without having achieved anything in her life.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By John Ault VINE VOICE on 12 Nov. 2003
Format: Paperback
It is ironic that a Booker winning book is written entirely in an American voice, when - of course - Americans cannot enter. I suspect that there are niggles with unauthentic American references, just as there are wrinkles in the book generally. However, it is a great book with a narrator who is both frustratingly naive and deeply knowing. It draws the reader in, makes us care, and keeps us dangling until the end.
I wonder if this is how Donna Tartt would sound if she had a really firm editor? There is the same sense of mystery, and some of the same low life Americans, but much punchier pacing.
The other great thing about the book is that it is littered with genuinely funny puns. Don’t worry about the hype, don’t worry about the implausibility of the author, just let yourself laugh and cry with Vernon.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lendrick VINE VOICE on 11 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
Booker winners seem to fall into 2 camps; studied literary works like The Sea or rollicking fantastical works like Midnights Children. VGL falls into the second category.

Told in the voice of 15 year old Vernon from small town Texas, the novel certainly has a original and mostly compelling voice. Not one everyone will like him, but it is I think what makes this a very good book, for all his flaws (and doubts about his actual role in the shooting) it is difficult not to warm to Vernon.

The story of the aftermath of a Columbine style school massacre seeks to make satirical points about obsession with possessions and celebrity. Some of it is quite telling, but I despite the claims on the cover I rarely found it laugh out loud funny. Vernon does become a bit irritating and I did give up on the book for a while. But I'm glad I went back to it as the closing section is the best part of the novel.

However I had two problems with the book; firstly the story is just too fantastical, in particular the success of the manipulative Lalio stretched my credulity beyond breaking point. More fundamentally though the satire on the life of the Vernon's mother and here friends is too broad and unsympathetic. I never truly believed in them, or that the author new people like them. This feels like writing at second hand rather than from real experience.

All in all though it is certainly worth a read, but not I think worthy of the lavish praise some have heaped on it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. C. Njoku on 8 Jan. 2004
Format: Paperback
After the first 20 pages I've got to admit that I was beginning to lose faith in this book. Sure the language was unusual, but that's been done before and better (if you're adventurous read a book called Sozaboy by Ken Saro-Wiwa) and the story had not yet gripped me. But patience paid off: Vernon God Little blindsided me and without noticing the transition I went from nearly hating the book to loving it.
Do I think it deserved the Booker Prize? Probably not. This book is not a great literary accomplishment (whatever that means), what it is - and what storytelling used to be before it got dirtied by overbearing academic purity - is a great warm yarn that leaves you with a big silly grin on your face. And sometimes that's all we want.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By yellowmorag on 7 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
The title character is a fifteen-year-old boy who lives in a small town in the U.S. state of Texas. When his friend Jesus Navarro commits suicide after killing sixteen bullying schoolmates, suspicion falls on Vernon, who becomes something of a scapegoat in his small hometown of Martirio. Fearing the death penalty, he goes on the run to Mexico.

This was DCB Pierre's debut novel and he won the Booker prize in 2003 for it. I have absolutely no idea why. 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. 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, and it's an interesting premise, but overall I thought it was pretty poor. I think if it had not received such excessive praise and had not won the Booker Prize, I wouldn't be so unimpressed, I was expecting something far more spectacular.
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