Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre - winner of the Man Booker Prize and the Whitbread First Novel Prize in 2003 - is a controversial and astonishing reminder that desperate times throw up the unlikeliest of heroes.
DBC Pierre was born in Reynella, South Australia. He was raised in Mexico between the ages of seven and twenty-three, although he has also travelled extensively. DBC Pierre has worked as a designer and cartoonist, and currently lives in County Leitrim, Ireland. Vernon God Little, his first novel, won the 2003 Bollinger Everyman Woodhouse Award, the Whitbread Prize for Best First Novel, and the 2003 Man Booker Prize. He is the author of Ludmila's Broken English (2006) and Lights Out in Wonderland.
Published to critical acclaim in England, this first novel is a satirical look at contemporary America viewed through the eyes of Vernon Little, a 15-year-old who is the sole survivor of a high school massacre. Vernon's best friend, Jesus Navarro, was the shooter; but since Jesus is dead, the town makes Vernon their scapegoat. Pierre, whose real name is Peter Finlay and who occasionally visited Texas while growing up in Mexico, paints a black picture of a place where a boy can be executed before he is old enough to buy a drink legally, where a mother is more concerned about getting a new refrigerator than her innocent son's having been accused of mass murder. The stereotypes are broad: poor Mexicans are noble; white Texans are idiots; women are mindless, materialistic gossips; and convicted murderers are more humane than people outside. America may have difficulty finding the humor in this novel, but equally troubling is the inauthenticity of the narrative voice. Purchase only for libraries with sophisticated readers, far away from Texas.-Andrea Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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.