Vernon God Little
Faber, $29.95 pb, 279 pp, 0571216420
‘The fucken oozing nakedness, the despair of being such a vulnerable egg-sac of a critter, like, a so-called human being, just sickens me sometimes, especially right now. The Human Condition Mom calls it. Watch out for that fucker.’
The speaker of these lines, fifteen-year-old Vernon Little, is a literary descendant of Huckleberry Finn. Like Huck, Vernon narrates his story in his own idiosyncratic vernacular, complete with dodgy grammar and malapropisms. As a comic monologue, Vernon God Little is not quite in the same league as Twain’s masterpiece, but much of its appeal springs from the quality of Vernon’s voice, his flashes of insightful cynicism, his erratic flair for metaphor, his crude puns, and the energetic discontent with which he interprets the world. Vernon has a foul mouth and one of the most flagrant cases of anal-fixation in all of literature, but he remains likeable, primarily because he manages to reveal – to the reader, if no one else – that beneath his prickly exterior he is insecure and vulnerable.