Thursday, 14 October 2010

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre

The surprise winner of the 2003 Man Booker Prize, Vernon God Little is a riotous satire of adolescence, death, crime and punishment in small-town Texas.

The protagonist, Vernon Little, has somehow managed to get himself into a world of shit without trying. His best friend Jesus Navarro, has shot the rest of his class and Vernon is under suspicion as an accessory, or worse still, an accomplice. His dysfunctional teenage life is now under intense scrutiny giving everything he does a air of perceived delinquency.

When he gets sent to a sinister psychiatrist, he decides the best thing to do is go on the lam to Mexico with Taylor Figueroa, a girl with whom he is besotted. Money, however, is a bit of an issue. In fact, he has none, so he decides to get drunk and think about things. Still, the barter economy is alive and well in Martirio; beer can be exchanged for online pornography with local amputee Silas:

“We-ell,” he says, stroking his chin. “How much ya want fer it?” “A case.” “Git outta here.” “No kidding, Sie, this list can save you a truckload of beer over the summer. A goddam truckload, at least.” “I’ll pay a six pack.” “We-ell,” I hesitate. You have to hesitate with Silas. “We-ell. I don’t know, Sie, plenty of kids’ll wanna kill me, after I bust the business like this.” “Six-packa Coors, I’ll go git it.” He swings a way into the house like a one legged monkey. You can’t drink until you’re twenty-one around here. I ain’t twenty-one. Good ole Silas always keeps some brews in stock, to trade for special pictures. Us Martirio kids are like his personal internet. He’s our personal bar. By seven thirty this morning, I’m sat in a dirt clearing behind some bushes at Keeter’s sucking beer and waiting for ideas about cash.

He finally pulls off a scheme for getting enough bucks together and manages to get to Mexico where he hitches a lift with a truck driver. Flat broke, he hasn’t even got enough for a drink.

A cold beer turns up for the truck driver. I pull a music disc out of my pack, point to it, then to the beer. The bartender frowns, looks the disc over, then thumps a cold bottle down in front of me. He hands the disc to the driver; they both nod. I know I should eat before I drink, but how do you say ‘Milk and fucken cookies’ in Mexican? After a minute, the men motion for my pack, and gently rummage through the discs. Their eyes also make the inevitable pilgrimage to the New Jacks on my feet. Finally, whenever a beer turns up for the truck driver, the bartender automatically looks at me. I nod, and a new beer shows up. My credit’s established. I introduce myself. The truck driver flashes some gold through his lips, and raises his bottle. “Sa- lud!” he says.

After which, things get a little messy:

Don’t fucken ask me when the first tequila arrived. Suddenly, later in life, glass-clear skies swim through the open side of the bar, with stars like droplets on a spider’s web, and I find myself smoking sweet, oval-shaped cigarettes called Delicados, apparently from my own pack. I’m loaded off my ass... An aneurism wakes me Friday morning. I’m curled up on the floor behind a table. A brick in my head smashes into the back of my eyes when I look around.

Having traded the last of his possessions and the clothes he stood in for a night on the tiles, he’s once again desperate for money. Can he persuade Taylor to come down to Mexico with the money. You betcha! Especially if he starts talking to her as if he really did commit all those murders. She takes him to a hotel room and they raid the mini-bar:

“Welcome home,” she says. She pulls some tequila minatures out of the mini-bar, while I just stand here like a spare prick, then she curls up on the bed closest to the window... Taylor raises her bottle, and we slug our tequilas down. I lie back on the bed like I’m wearing guns. She crawls half off the bed to grab some beers, and as she does it, her ass strains into the air. Panty-line. Bikinis. I’m fucken slain.

All this drink and physical temptation. Young Vern couldn’t be being set up to say something foolish might he?

No comments:

Post a comment