Thursday, January 18, 2007

Vernon God Little

by D.B.C. Pierre

This is another one of those books that I passed up when I first heard about it. Reviews were pretty good but not raving, and the whole school shooting theme turned me off. Then I read another review, where the reviewer decided that instead of writing about his top ten of 2006, he'd rather talk about this book, which was published in 2003.

I wish I had saved the link to that review, because what hooked me was the description of the protagonist's unique voice. Books in which the hero is of a certain age inevitably invite comparisons to Catcher in the Rye; but where Catcher is all angst and omphaloskepsis, Vernon God Little is satire at it's best: at once hysterically funny and deeply philosophical in its critique of the "reality show" that passes for culture in the '00s. Consumerism, therapy, consumerism as therapy; media, celebrity, and "info-tainment"; fatness, fast food, and irritable bowel syndrome; porn, perversion, and punishment — nothing escapes the searing sarcasm of a young man world-weary and wise before his time and on the run from inept law enforcement and the court of popular opinion.

There were so many quotes I wanted to use here as an example of the character's voice, or just to keep for posterity, but I was reading the book poolside with a pina colada in one hand, and I absolutely abhor dog-earing, so I was only able to mark one:

"There's the learning, O Partner: that you're cursed when you realize true things, because then you can't act with the full confidence of dumbness anymore."

Pithy, man, pithy.

P.S., I've always thought Holden Caulfield is a whiny bitch.

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