by DBC Pierre, Faber&Faber 2003, 279pp
My book club selection. It beats me why it won a prize. One friend recommended it strongly, another hated it. I tend toward the latter. The story is set in Texas, with many fat lower-class tacky Americans (is this why the British like it?). The voice of Vernon, who is accused of high school massacre, is crude and slangy, which did not bother me so much as the unalleviated misanthropy. As I hated reading the book, and found parts that beggared belief (death-row game show) I told myself to appreciate it as satire. But if it is satire, then why the clear mystery-story clues, which are indeed tied together at the end? In fact the ending feels redemptive, but just by contrast. What a relief it is for everyone not to be a shithead, for Ella to appear at the end as a beautiful woman.
Some bits I liked:
Kin of the fallen. Mr Lechuga stares death-rays at me, and he ain't even Max's real daddy. Lorna Speltz's mom is here, like a damp kind of turtle. I get waves of sadness, not for me but for them, all mangled and devastated. I'd give anything for them to be vastated again.
'Sailing' starts to play now, because when Fate opens up, it opens up with both barrels. I try to swallow, but my mouth is woody. A terminal learning comes to me: that for all the sirens, game-show buzzers, and drum-rolls of life, it is the nature of men to die quietly. I mean, what kind of life was that? -a bunch of movies, and people talking about movies, and shows about people talking about movies. Still, I guess I asked for it.
An interview with DBC.
Laurie wrote: SOUNDS SOOOOO YUCKY.
I dont read much any more. I did chuckle all the way through Cheryl Benard's Moghul Buffet - as did my father - a pseudo-mystery that's a wickedly "noir" commentary on the world. I think you'd enjoy it, not as great literature but in the sense that this strange fiction could so easily be true. Staying with the subcontinent, I also like Jhumpa Lahiri's fiction, but it may be more of a girl thing - - though J read and admired her short stories, so there must be some appeal for men....
Neil wrote: I don't suppose you like Tom Sharpe either. We can discuss tomorrow.