Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre (Faber and Faber: 2003). In the aftermath of a high school tragedy, 15 year-old Vernon Gregory Little stumbles through the ridiculous environment of small-town Texas, put deep in a hole by the people around him through a mix of their ignorance, opportunism, ambition, desperation and depression. Seemingly the only voice of reason, Vern does what he can to stay alive and grow up just as quickly as he can.
I showed absolutely no will power with this. I was supposed to save it for a while. It wasn’t that long ago I read Lights out in Wonderland, and got a little weak at the knees about it. I wanted to give it some time before I subjected you to another hero worship of a blog post.
But then I thought, what the hey. If this is as good as I expect it to be, what is the point in delaying the fun. And if this is as good as I expect it to be, then I need to tell you about it as soon as I can, so you can get in on the fun too.
It’s not like some of you won’t have heard of this before. It won a bunch of prizes when it first came out, including the 2003 Man Booker Prize. If you were around in 2003, you’ll have already heard fawning praise for this.
But what you’ll have never heard is the GBR take on it. So here it is.
Unsurprisingly, I loved it. It was hyped up and I expected a lot from the first page to the last, and it delivered with every single word. OK, maybe not every single word, that’s probably going a bit overboard, but this was good from beginning to end.
Which is tough to do. We all know that film you go see after all your friends tell you it’s brilliant. You walk into the theatre pumped up, expectations at the top of the ladder, and you’re in a situation when pretty much nothing could possibly live up to the promise. Expect genius and you’ll probably be disappointed. Walk in with zero build up, and you’re more likely to be impressed. The film has a fairer chance. But occasionally, something is good enough to live with the sky-high billing. Embrace it. And Vernon God Little is one of those things.
The big reason (for me, anyway) is its relentless quality. DBC Pierre just doesn’t let up. Every single sentence drips with quality. He does all the difficult things pretty effortlessly – keeps a consistent voice, explores the premise carefully, paces the plot. He does all that, but that’s not what impresses me. What impresses me (as it did in Lights out in Wonderland) is his language. He does all those difficult things, spins all those plates, and he does it whilst writing with so much colour and wit and rhythm. The phrasing is just damn perfect. Intelligent. Funny. Tight. All of those things at the same time.
I smiled as I read it. Sat there in silence with a goofy grin on my face, just basking in it. Wallowing. Butterflies going nuts in my belly, scattered all over the place by the craft of Pierre.
Yeah, I enjoyed this. A bunch.
Bang! Number three of the year. And this deserves it. It changed everything for me.
We’re in Sept, and there’s been three 2012 maximums, so I figure they’re still rare enough to be big news in the GBR universe. If you need reminding on what a 10 GBR score means, click away here.
Or go straight to Amazon, buy this book, along with Lights out in Wonderland, and thank me later.