Skip to main content

Vernon God Little



The human world is darkly comical. The twenty-first century has only added more sound and fury to the comedy. D B C Pierre’s novel, Vernon God Little, gives us all that dark humour on a platter.

As Vernon is going to turn 16, he is arrested for complicity in a serial killing which his friend Jesus Navarro committed. Jesus could not endure the bullying any further and he pulled the trigger on sixteen of his fellow students before killing himself. The novel tells the story of the investigation. How people react to Vernon’s arrest and related events bring out the hollowness of their thoughts and feelings.

Vernon’s mother, Doris, is more worried about the fridge that she has been waiting for though she does console her son saying that mothers love their sons even if the sons are murderers. She is in no hurry to believe her son’s assertion of his innocence. Soon she develops an affair with Eulalio Ledesma, who claims to be a TV reporter, though he is in fact a TV repairman trying get his share of fame at Vernon’s expense. Dr Oliver Goosens, the psychiatrist who is to assess Vernon, is a gay paedophile who strips the boy naked and fondles his private parts until the boy jumps up in protest. In retaliation, the psychiatrist threatens him with a negative report. Mr Nuckles, the science teacher, is another child abuser. Jesus, the serial killer, was a victim of both Mr Nuckles and Dr Goosens. There is a retired principal, Mr Deutschman, who loved to fondle the private parts of his girl students. Vernon with the help of a girl called Ella blackmails Mr Deutschman and extracts $140.

Though Vernon was not in the premises when the serial killing took place, he is unable to prove the alibi. Mr Goosens who had sent Vernon to the lab for bringing certain things for an experiment does not help. But Vernon has a problem with his bowel movement and the faeces he dropped in a field as well as the science notes which he used as toilet paper will play a major role in the plot eventually.

In the meanwhile, Vernon runs away to Mexico. He rings up Taylor Figueroa, a senior girl in his school, for some money. She goes all the way to Mexico promising to give him the money personally but betrays him to Eulalio Ledesma and his policemen. Taylor uses sex for making Vernon confess. “Vernon, tell me all those things you did,” Taylor murmurs to Vernon as she holds him in a tight embrace. They melt into each other’s mouths, in Vernon’s own words. His hand “finds the round of her ass, surfs it, a finger charts an edge of panty – doesn’t pick, or lift – just teases and glides, moving higher, feeling the climate change around her rudest rebellion…”

Taylor realises that the tantalisation is not enough. She wriggles herself out of her shorts. Soon Vernon’s face is buried in “the stinking wet truth behind panties, money, justice, and slime…” He cannot resist anymore Taylor’s demand to confess to his crime. “Tell me what you did to those people,” she insists, “tell me you loved it.” She wants to hear that Vernon killed all those people, not only the students but also many others in the town (the police have actually assumed that Vernon was the killer in many unproven cases). She wants Vernon to say that he committed all those murders just for her sake, for her love.

“Yeah,” Vernon gives in to heat of the moment. “I did it for you.” As soon as that confession is made, Taylor changes into a different girl. Within seconds, Vernon is under arrest, in the glaring lights of cameras.

Taylor is happy that she finally found a job, a fairly glamorous one too – as a TV anchor. Ledesma is the man behind that show. Vernon’s mother will soon get her new fridge.

Vernon’s friend in the jail is Pastor Lasalle who is also on the death-row like Vernon. Lasalle was an axe serial killer. Now as a pastor, his advice to Vernon is: “You’re the God. Take responsibility. Exercise your power.” Vernon Gregory Little thus becomes Vernon God Little.

God or no God, it is Vernon’s faeces and the science notes which became his toilet tissue that will save him in the end from the death-row.

Life appears to be a big farce sometimes, though simultaneously tragic too. This novel which won the Man Booker Prize in 2003 explores that farce through the eyes of a boy who turns 16, old enough to be put on the execution chair. In this tragic farce, “You need positioning, like a product in the market – the jails are full of people who didn’t manage their positions.” Here public opinion goes with “the first psycho who points a finger.” Here you should learn “when to be an asshole in life” if you want to get on. In the end, “maybe only the dumb are safe in this world, the ones who roam with the herd, without thinking about every little thing.”

It is funny world. It is a tragic world. Sometimes we don’t know where the comedy ends and tragedy begins or vice-versa.


PS. This is part of a series being written for the #BlogchatterA2Z Challenge. The previous parts are:
14. No Exit
17. Quixote
18. The Rebel
Coming up on Monday: Wuthering Heights



Comments

  1. I have begun to accept this. Only the dumb are safe and happy. The others are all stuck up in the dichotomy of existence.
    Thank you for the review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ironically, it's getting increasingly farcical though we would expect the other way around. Evolution isn't happening in the emotional domain.

      Delete
    2. Being emotionally evolved is a challenge sir. Survival becomes an issue.

      Delete
  2. Right now I am feeling numbness after reading the review. The callous attitude of the world seemed to have done that to me. Why is innocence difficult to prove? Why is it easy to get trapped in the frame? The story paints the world as a dark place, which I dont want to believe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's only when we get into some serious problem do we realise the starkness of real life. Having gone through a lot of painful experiences, I can assure you that only the dumb and the affluent are happy.

      Delete
  3. Even we are living in such a world now dictated by those who can't see beyond themselves. I wasn't aware of this book. Will add to my TBR and order once Amazon starts delivering books again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps the rulers make a lot of difference. People are unable to have profound vision anyway. But leaders with great vision can provide depth and width to the way people perceive. Unfortunately, as you've said, we have leaders whose vision stops at the tips of their noses.

      Delete
  4. I can gauge the funniness of the book from your article itself. Would be interesting to read this book.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "Human world is darkly comical", awesome! This seems a dark humor indeed. An intriguing book and quite interestingly presented.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The author's original name is something else. He took DBC to mean Dirty But Clean 😃

      Delete
  6. Quite a disturbing tale. Innocence equals vulnerability. Public opinion does go with the first one who points a finger. There are many things whose validity we must re-think and question.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This novel has been compared to The Catcher in the Rye, published in 1950s. Both are about a 16-year-old's struggle with the tragicomic adult world.

      Delete
  7. I was hooked to this post. Sometimes we aren't bad, circumstances make us look bad. And people like us who look from outside Don't really know the difference. I'd like to read this book and know how he escaped.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's quite a hilarious conclusion. You'll love it. But there's also the touch of life's pain. That's why the novel is quite a classic.

      Delete
  8. It's indeed a funny world and as you rightly said... We do not know when the comedy ends and the tragedy begins.... Now don't know that's the comedy of it or tragedy of it either!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such is our world really. What's happening in our own country is no different.

      Delete
  9. I completely disagree with the statement. A dumb person might just get away once or twice or maybe once again, but this will not continue always and once in a soup it will be impossible for them to get out. Whereas, if you see a smart man will get out of a situation every single time and if they aren't able to get out of that situation it is probably because they aren't smart.
    Well written post, Tomichan. It made me think a lot of things. A person cheated once might be innocent, but if he is cheated again, he is a fool.
    -- rightpurchasing.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. I’m not familiar with this book but it seems interesting.
    Noor Anand Chawla

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Advani and Modi

Cartoon from Deepika This morning's Malayalam newspaper, Deepika, delighted readers with the above cartoon on the front page. Modi is portrayed as Bhima in quest of the Sougandhika flower.  He encounters Hanuman on the way and is unable to meet the challenge posed by Hanuman.  Finally Bhima will understand the real power of his interceptor and seek his blessings. Fabulous cartoon, I mused.  It depicts the present situation tersely.  And there's a deep irony too in it. Neither Modi nor Advani is worthy of any comparison with the epic characters.  Both have acted from selfish motives thus far and continue to do so. But the nature of the Kurukshetra has changed too today.  Today our heroes are no better than these characters.   

The Ugly Duckling

Source: Acting Company A. A. Milne’s one-act play, The Ugly Duckling , acquired a classical status because of the hearty humour used to present a profound theme. The King and the Queen are worried because their daughter Camilla is too ugly to get a suitor. In spite of all the devious strategies employed by the King and his Chancellor, the princess remained unmarried. Camilla was blessed with a unique beauty by her two godmothers but no one could see any beauty in her physical appearance. She has an exquisitely beautiful character. What use is character? The King asks. The play is an answer to that question. Character plays the most crucial role in our moral science books and traditional rhetoric, religious scriptures and homilies. When it comes to practical life, we look for other things such as wealth, social rank, physical looks, and so on. As the King says in this play, “If a girl is beautiful, it is easy to assume that she has, tucked away inside her, an equally beauti

Reading Comprehension for Senior Students

 Let me present the reading comprehension test I gave to my 12th graders recently.  1.        Read the passage and answer the questions that follow .                      1x10 = 10 1.     On 1 Oct, India launched 5G services. It was a low-key affair even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi was launching it. Natural, perhaps, since it came after 70-odd countries had deployed it in close to 2000 cities since 2019 when South Korea kicked off the new era of connectivity. 2.     Attempts to get 5G going in India have been botched by muddled policies. The biggest bottleneck was the high reserve prices for airwave sales. The 700-megahertz band, which is needed for 5G technology, was priced so high that it did not receive any bids in the March auction and even in the recent auction, only one company, market leader Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, has been able to cough up the asking price despite a scaling down of rates by the government. Telecom companies are bleeding after the cutthroat tar

To a friend

Vincent van Gogh - self-portrait of a man who suffered much This post is dedicated to a person who was very dear to me for quite some time. We were good friends. But certain situations affected that friendship adversely. Years later, he contacted me recently. There is a lot of frustration, anger, sadness and rebellion in his psyche, as I sense it. Dear Friend, Your present situation grieves me as much as it worries me. I knew you as a benevolent individual who went out of his way to help friends. I received much help from you for many years. You were an inspiration for me in more ways than you might have ever imagined. What happened to our friendship was inevitable to some extent because I was passing through a painful phase of personality deterioration and your efforts to assist turned out to be counterproductive. It was not your fault at all. You meant well, I know. I knew it at that time too but my psychological condition made it impossible for me to continue our friendship. I n