Vernon God Little (Pierre) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
Startling and excellent....Like the best satires, it makes you feel faintly guilty for laughing, which intensifies the pleasure of reading. It also keeps you hooked....Vernon himself is a brilliant comic creation.
Carrie O'Grady - Guardian (UK)


While British critics enthusiastically compared Vernon to classics like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Catcher in the Rye, the book actually reads more like Beavis and Butt-head trying to do Nathanael West. It has moments of genuine horror and pathos, but for the most part it is a lumbering, mannered performance, a vigorous but unimaginative compendium of every cliché you've ever heard about America in general and Texas in particular.
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times


[A] dangerous, smart, ridiculous and very funny first novel.... dark, satirical prose, suffused with the language of youth culture.... The writing is simply terrific.... Plot aside—and there is much in this novel to keep the reader turning pages— Vernon God Little is just plain fun to read.
Sam Sifton - New York Times Book Review


If Huckleberry Finn were set on the Mexican-American border and written by the creators of South Park, it might read something like this.
San Francisco Chronicle


An unexpectedly moving first novel ... Raucous and brooding, coarse and lyric, corrosive and sentimental in about equal measure.
Joyce Carol Oates - The New Yorker


[H]is real triumph lies in Pierre's creation of Vernon, a mouthpiece for today's disaffected teenagers....[I]n his credible articulation of Vernon's existential angst Pierre has created an invigorating heir to Holden Caulfield.
Literary Review


Scabrously funny....[I]n Vernon Little, Pierre has channeled the most afflicted and endearing hero since Rushmore's Max Fischer.
Entertainment Weekly


Pierre takes a freewheeling, irreverent look at teenage Sturm und Drang in his erratic, sometimes darkly comic debut novel about a Texas boy running from the law in the wake of a gory school shooting. Vernon Gregory Little is the 15-year-old protagonist, a nasty, sarcastic teenager accused of being an accessory to the murders committed by his friend Jesus Navarro in tiny Martirio, "the barbecue sauce capital of Texas." Vernon manages to make bail and avoid the media horde that descends on the town after the killings, but he's unable to get to the other gun—his father's—which he knows will tie him to the crime, despite his innocence. His flight path takes him first to Houston, where he unsuccessfully tries to hook up with gorgeous former schoolmate Taylor Figueroa; the crafty beauty, promised a media job by the evil Lally, who's also duped Vernon's mom, follows him to Mexico and efficiently betrays him. Most of the plotting feels like an excuse for Vernon's endless, sharply snide riffs on his small town and the unique excesses of America that helped spawn the killings. Unfortunately, Vernon's voice grows tiresome, his excesses make him rather unlikable and the over-the-top, gross-out humor is hit-or-miss. Pierre's wild energy offers entertaining satire as well as cringe-provoking scenes, and though he can write with incisive wit, this is a bumpy ride..
Publishers Weekly


Published to critical acclaim in England, this first novel is a satirical look at contemporary America viewed through the eyes of Vernon Little, a 15-year-old who is the sole survivor of a high school massacre. Vernon's best friend, Jesus Navarro, was the shooter; but since Jesus is dead, the town makes Vernon their scapegoat. Pierre, whose real name is Peter Finlay and who occasionally visited Texas while growing up in Mexico, paints a black picture of a place where a boy can be executed before he is old enough to buy a drink legally, where a mother is more concerned about getting a new refrigerator than her innocent son's having been accused of mass murder. The stereotypes are broad: poor Mexicans are noble; white Texans are idiots; women are mindless, materialistic gossips; and convicted murderers are more humane than people outside. America may have difficulty finding the humor in this novel, but equally troubling is the inauthenticity of the narrative voice. Purchase only for libraries with sophisticated readers, far away from Texas. —Andrea Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS
Library Journal


A schoolyard massacre, a teenager on the lam, gross-out humor, and jabs at the media. Two things you should know at the outset. First, the narrative voice of 15-year-old Vernon Little overwhelms everything else. Second, the story is shaped like a doughnut. We know that one summer Tuesday in the oil town of Martirio in central Texas there occurred a Columbine-style massacre, and we know the identity of the shooter, but the context of the killings is withheld until near the end: that's the hole in the doughnut. The delayed revelation is pointless and without suspense; what happened is that Jesus Navarro, a Mexican kid and Vernon's buddy, goaded unendurably by his classmates, mowed down 16 of them before killing himself. Vernon is being held as a possible accessory to murder, though we know our boy is innocent. In his loud whine, he tells us about his Mom, his Mom's friends, his obsession (panties), and his predicament (no control over his bowels). His identity is filtered through favorite words ("slime," "cream pie," "fucken"), which capture a teenager's self-absorption, but nothing more: there is no vision of his world. He escapes to Mexico only to be entrapped by the gorgeous Taylor, a high-school acquaintance who's working hand-in-glove with Lally, a sinister con man who has already tricked Vern's Mom. Flown back to Houston, Vern stands accused of 34 murders; his TV image is so familiar that viewers even connect him to others (the "suggestibility" factor). Meanwhile, Lally has set up his own Reality TV, filming Death Row inmates and having viewers decide the order of their executions. Vern is convicted, then pardoned; what saves him are his own dried turds, found miles from the crime scene ("Stool's Out!" says Time). Humor and mass murder make for strange bedfellows, and first-timer Pierre fails to find the tone that might harmonize them.
Kirkus Reviews




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