Vernon God Little Paperback – May 18 2004
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If there's any justice, it is only a matter of time before the work of the curiously-named D B C Pierre becomes essential 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.
From Publishers Weekly
Pierre takes a freewheeling, irreverent look at teenage Sturm und Drang in his erratic, sometimes darkly comic debut novel about a Texas boy running from the law in the wake of a gory school shooting. Vernon Gregory Little is the 15-year-old protagonist, a nasty, sarcastic teenager accused of being an accessory to the murders committed by his friend Jesus Navarro in tiny Martirio, "the barbecue sauce capital of Texas." Vernon manages to make bail and avoid the media horde that descends on the town after the killings, but he's unable to get to the other gun-his father's-which he knows will tie him to the crime, despite his innocence. His flight path takes him first to Houston, where he unsuccessfully tries to hook up with gorgeous former schoolmate Taylor Figueroa; the crafty beauty, promised a media job by the evil Lally, who's also duped Vernon's mom, follows him to Mexico and efficiently betrays him. Most of the plotting feels like an excuse for Vernon's endless, sharply snide riffs on his small town and the unique excesses of America that helped spawn the killings. Unfortunately, Vernon's voice grows tiresome, his excesses make him rather unlikable and the over-the-top, gross-out humor is hit-or-miss. Pierre's wild energy offers entertaining satire as well as cringe-provoking scenes, and though he can write with incisive wit, this is a bumpy ride.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Reality TV, girls underpants and the f word; this book truly has it all. Vernon G. Little, who I found to be a modern Holden Caulfield with a bit of Eminem, is an anally fixated 15 year old who witnesses the murder of 17 classmates, the murderer being his closest friend, a Mexican student named Jesus. In his debut novel, Pierre takes us into the world of BBQ, Texas sewing circles and the hardest part about being surrounded by "phonies": no one wants to hear your story because they are too worried about their own wants.
The realistic dialogue and the distinctive voice of Vernon create an atmosphere of dusty midnight bus rides and the salty promises of Mexican air. After Vernon's mother's affair with a supposed TV reporter from CNN and the eventual finger pointing at Vernon himself, for a crime he clearly did not commit, the beauties of American media unfold and a satire not too far from reality sinks in.
Because this book has received so much media attention from winning the Man Booker, there are plenty of possitive and negative reports, but I am casting my vote "for". Not necessarily to say that it will be as important as CATCHER IN THE RYE, but it certainly shines a new light on "modern" American society and shows the difficulty of being a teenager, especially when everyone around is so willing to believe what is portrayed for them on television.Read more ›
What put me off was the narrator, a teenaged Texan from a dysfunctional family, Vernon "Insert contrived literary device here" Little. It's told in a first-person confessional style through the eyes of this maladjusted kid during the aftermath of a high school shooting, capturing his confused, frenetic thoughts well. You're not meant to like him, you're meant to feel sorry for him, he has everyone and everything stacked against him from the start. I didn't like his speaking style and had trouble keeping a Texan accent going in my head. Trainspotting was easier to follow. Like Catcher in the Rye the closer you are in age to the protagonist, the more keenly you'll feel for him, but it's hard to empathise too much as for the most of the book, you're trying to work out his exact role in the school shootings.
There's plenty to like once you get over the style of the book; the underlying dark humour, the critique of capital punishment, the grotesquely well-depicted supporting characters, you get a good impression of how the American media circus chews up lives, and there's plenty of room for musing on the nature of society and religion.
It's a good book, about interesting subject matter and rightly won several prestigious awards, but takes too long to get going. I don't think I can recommend it.
With VGL, Pierre has decisively broken the mould of how a book winner should read. It's a sizzling satire about reality TV obsessed America and zanily written in helter-skelter youth culture slang language, liberally laced with broken English and references nobody outside of Texas will understand. I wasn't convinced the critics had got it right until I was two-thirds way through. Then I was blown away.
Sure, the people of Martirio are gross. They're overweight, gadget fixated, fame obsessed and mostly in dire need of getting a life. Some American readers may feel justifiably offended by Pierre's caricature of contemporary America but if the flood of reality TV programmes inundating the media is an indication of where the nation's pulse is at, I say we have every reason to be worried. Pierre's satire is an indictment of the media, whose "dumbing down policy" towards its public fosters a "anything for two minutes of fame" mentality even if it's in total disregard of the truth. In fact, nobody in Martirio seems much interested in the truth - particularly if it's complex - unless it's capable of being packaged into something simple, something the public will be able to embrace and throw their collective weight behind . So, Pierre rightly asks very early in the novel whether something that happened actually happened if it wasn't seen by anyone.
When Vernon's buddy Jesus goes berserk, shoots down his college mates and then turns the gun on himself, somebody other than the dead Jesus must pay. There's only one convenient scapegoat and that's poor Vernon.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I don't have a whole lot to say about this book as it wasn't a great read for me. I found it very tedious and while I know the author was going for a certain theme or type, I just... Read morePublished on May 31 2006 by N. Jeannotte
In the grand tradition of Mark Twain's "Tom Sawyer," S.E. Hinton's "The Outsiders," J.D. Read morePublished on Feb. 21 2005 by Kimberley Azmus
I don't think the timing of this book could be better with Bush's crusade in the middle east and all. Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2005
As with My Fractured Life, Vernon God Little has some salty language and a few adult situations. If you don't mind such things, the story itself is lively and entertaining. Read morePublished on Feb. 4 2005 by Carrie Lynn Dystra
Anyone who has lived in a small town in America will love the descriptions in VERNON GOD LITTLE. Some of them are like MAIN STREET on drugs. Read morePublished on Oct. 19 2004 by Leisel Kratchenofsky
This book reminded me of another that I recently ran across, titled "The Bark of the Dogwood." Both are excellent and deal with small town America, strange adolescents,... Read morePublished on Oct. 7 2004 by Brandon Calloway
That's about the best thing I can say about this book. I like the first person narrative of a troubled teen with crazy thoughts pouring onto the page--but--the author offers no... Read morePublished on July 7 2004 by Ann as in "Coulter "
When I cracked open this book I had expected a sophisticated satire of American culture and a novel exploring the troubles of school violence. Read morePublished on June 16 2004