Review + Excerpts: Vernon God Little (DBC Pierre)

Vernon God Little isn’t a bad read at all, but I’d personally classify it as a borrow-don’t-buy. I was extremely impressed by it, but as someone who reads purely for leisure (okay, and perhaps an occasional intellectual brownie point), I haven’t the faintest desire to ever read it again. It would probably make a fairly good movie, but only if Tarantino directs.

DBC Pierre’s prose is stingingly funny, but the plot is ultimately frustrating for the rational reader, which makes the suspense in the ending fall flat. The entire story is dependent on accepting that the protagonist, who sees the world through glasses so bitingly perceptive that they would best be described as gunmetal-tinted, is more inept at proving his innocence (of a schoolyard mass-murder) than an eight-year-old child would be. At times I was reminded of my exasperation while watching The Blair Witch Project, after which I seem to remember proclaiming “People that fucking stupid really just deserve to die!” a little too loud on the streets of London.

However, if you’re going on holiday, or are sick in bed and need something rollicking(ish) and entertaining(ish) and which pokes merciless fun at fat small-town Americans, you could do much worse than Vernon God Little. Here are two vulgar passages from it to help you decide. If you don’t like them, don’t read the book.

* * *

“Man, remember the Great Thinker we heard about in class last week?” he asks.

“The one that sounded like ‘Manual Cunt’?”

“Yeah, who said nothing really happens unless you see it happen.”

“All I remember is asking Naylor if he ever heard of a Manual Cunt, and him going, ‘I only drive automatics’.”

* * *

“You never heard of the paradigm shift? Example: you see a man with his hand up your granny’s ass. What do you think?”

“Bastard.”

“Right. Then you learn a deadly bug crawled up there, and the man has in fact put aside his disgust to save Granny. What do you think now?”

“Hero.” You can tell he ain’t met my nana.

“There you go, a paradigm shift. The action doesn’t change – the information you use to judge it does. You were ready to crucify the guy because you didn’t have the facts. Now you want to shake his hand.”

“I don’t think so.”

“I meant figuratively, asshole.”

9 comments

  1. thanks for the cameo on sockparade. it’s true that people from singapore have infinitely more interesting lives than fat small-town americans. haha man. americans don’t travel nearly as much as anyone from Europe or Asia. anytime we get a foreign exchange student here, we marvel at the number of countries they’ve been to. do you guys marvel at the lack of travel experience american exchange students have? we’ve all been brainwashed to believe that there’s nothing we could possibly want outside the land of milk and honey. i can count the number of countries i’ve been to on one hand. in fact, using a hand would be wasting fingers. i can count it on my legs. yeeaah, exactly. i am deprogramming myself every day by reading foreign blogs. wish me luck.

  2. I must admit I didn’t talk much to many of our American exchange students in London because I found most of them rather loud. To be fair to them though, I think they did take every opportunity while they were in London to see as much of Europe as they could.

    Also, I did know two who were pretty cosmopolitan in that even though they hadn’t been to many places, they were at least well-informed enough about the rest of the world to be able to carry on decent conversations about it, and they weren’t parochial. Ultimately, I think that’s what’s more important than having loads of stamps in a passport.

    Anyway, I’m glad if this blog helps you “deprogram”. :) In the meantime, please keep writing about your own life in West Hollywood, California. After all, I’ve never been there!

  3. in two weeks i’m actually moving back to texas for a year. so you can imagine me cringing when i read on Amazon where Vernon God Little takes place. haha cripes. :D

  4. I’m glad to know that being well-informed and open-minded ranks higher on your list that being well-travelled. As you know, my lack of travel experience relative to people in my social circles is my last great hangup (I’ve only been with my family to Malaysia and Thailand as a kid, and recently on expenses-paid official stuff to Taiwan and Korea).

    Because to me, it’s not just about travel per se. It is about learning more about the endless manifestations of human culture and society. Hence my penchant for forgotten places and faded glory, because contrary to what many seem to believe, one doesn’t have to travel very far to learn about the shapes and shades of life…national boundaries are artificial divisors of culture; there is as much depth and meaning, as much to marvel at and reflect upon in this small island–and even in the hearts of people you know–as anywhere else in the world.

  5. Did I go and see “Blair Witch” with you, Michelle?

    This is making me remember how few countries I’ve been to as an adult.

    Oh! I remember! I was in a different country for New Years!

    (but it was Wales).

  6. excellent, loved those excerpts! they’re my fave parts of the book, i remember laughing long and hard when i read the paradigm shift one.

  7. i liked that book, fun read and quite unputdownable. if i remember correctly it also slags off reality TV- after that i swore off big brother and all the other clones (and i lasted about..1 day before i realised their aren’t any non-reality TV programmes anymore)

  8. John: Yes, I think so. Although I think of all the movies I’ve seen with you, this wasn’t the one which pissed you off most – that was Amores Perros. (And hey, you’ve got the rest of your adult life to come visit me in SINGAPORE…Russ is coming in April, when are you??)

  9. ‘John: Yes, I think so. Although I think of all the movies I’ve seen with you, this wasn’t the one which pissed you off most – that was Amores Perros. (And hey, you’ve got the rest of your adult life to come visit me in SINGAPORE…Russ is coming in April, when are you??)’

    Oh yes! Amores Perros is the STILL the only film I’ve ever considered walking out of… Crikey, Blair Witch was so long ago, wasn’t it? We must have been so young. Like children.

    Singapore? Oh there’s definitely a plan. There are rumours of certain arrangements in New Zealand, but we’ll see. Sometime after 31st August…

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