Wow, Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre is a f***en ripper of a book. Since Vernon God Little won the Man Booker Prize in 2003, I rest my f***en case.
I don’t usually swear, but Vernon Little, the fifteen year old main character of this books swears a lot, and it rubs off. As a narrator, he has a way with words. He tells his story in the first person, and is hilarious, despite his best friend going on a shooting rampage at school and killing 16 people. Poor old Vernon, who seems to be one of life’s losers, has somehow become guilty by association.
Vernon lives with his mother, who is bloody hopeless. His father is gone, presumed dead. Vernon’s mother’s friends are a posse of bitches, one-upping each other every chance they get. The small Texan town Vernon lives in, Martirio, is the kind of place where everyone knows each other and everyone else’s business, although a few dirty little secrets come to light during the telling of this story.
Vernon becomes a “skate-goat” for his friend’s killing spree because the people of the town are looking for someone to blame and the actual murderer, Vernon’s friend Jesus, ‘got away’ by killing himself. Although innocent, Vernon is implicated by a series of co-incidences and a con man presenting himself as a reporter. The con man wheedles his way into his mother’s pants, house and surprise, surprise, bank account.
Vernon eventually escapes to Mexico and just when you think he is in the clear, things go from bad to worse for him. I won’t say how things end up for Vernon, but bear in mind, Texas has (or has in the novel) capital punishment. I will admit to shedding a tear in the last chapters. The con man, who has now dumped Vernon’s mother for a better offer, has created a reality show for death row, where the inmates go up against each other on votes to be executed.
There are good people and bad people in this book, just like in real life. Frighteningly, there seem to be more stupid people than clever too, and combined with various faults, including greediness and vanity, Vernon never had a chance. Vernon’s own fault, lust (not surprising in a fifteen year old boy) is his undoing.
On an aside, Australian Prime Minster John Howard changed the laws to tighten gun ownership in Australia after a gunman went on a rampage and shot loads of innocent people. Since then, it hasn’t happened here. Just f***en sayin’.
Back to the book. I loved it. Vernon is wiser than most and funnier too. I can’t wait to read Ludmila’s Broken English, also by this author. Vernon God Little is a wonderful book.