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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 September, 2003, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Pierre's dark humour disappoints

By William Gallagher
BBC News Online

DBC Pierre's novel, Vernon God Little, is among the six books shortlisted for this year's Booker Prize.

The strength of DBC Pierre's first novel is claimed to be that it is outrageously funny but there is both much more and somewhat less to it than that.

For there is no middle ground in its humour and no real range in it either so that if you find it funny, you find it hilarious and if you don't, it leaves you cold as stone.

DBC Pierre
This is DBC Pierre's first novel
It is off-putting to realise that you are not laughing as much as you should be, but there is also enough happening so that the novel keeps your attention, and can even survive whether you get its often puerile humour or not.

Vernon is a survivor of a Columbine-like school massacre but police and especially media attention puts so much pressure on him that he is no longer seen as a victim and ends up accused of the murders.

The logic in that does not bear close scrutiny but Pierre conjures the pressures so well that you are carried along with it.

With teenage angst coupled to very real pressures in a first-person tale, Vernon recalls JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar but does not have the bite of either.


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