Excerpt: DBC Pierre's Lights Out in Wonderland

I've read both of DBC Pierre's novel to date, first Vernon God Little, which won Pierre the 2003 Booker winner as well as the 2004 Whitbread First Novel Award winner - a light and amusing read (not sure it deserved the prestigious prizes, though), and then in 2006, Ludmila's Broken English, which was less fun to read, being multi-focal, boring most of the time and downright tedious the rest of the time...

Lights Out in Wonderland is Pierre's third novel to date (he's published a short story for children, entitled Suddenly Doctor Cox in 2009) and it is due to be published next month by Faber & Faber.

It tells the story of one man's odyssey through the world's grand metropolises (taking in London, Tokyo, Berlin and the even the Galapagos Islands). 

This man is twenty-something Gabriel Brockwell ("A microwave chef. A writer of pamphlets. A product of our time. A failed student. A faulty man. A bad poet. An activist in two minds. A drinker of chocolate milk, and when there’s no chocolate, of strawberry").

Brockwell wonders these places in search of his 'Wonderland', his redemption.

The title of Pierre's novel suggests, naturally, apocalypse and decay, but also "fun times" and decadence, as befits an "end times" sort of novel. 

And, lo and behold, right-smack in the novel's first sentence we are declared that our main protagonist is about to kill himself, but not right away... "Because nothing matters anymore", and also, possibly, because someone needs to fill in those 336 pages before we do actually get to the END. 

The reason for all this morbidity coming from a twenty-something year old ? Quite vague... "Everyone regrets leaving a party early, hearing laughter from a salon behind them. Death must feel that way. But I don’t feel it at all; because this party’s over. "

Morbidity aside, what we're left with is a never-ending monologue delivered in the first person (why do authors continue to write in first person? So few of them actually get away with it..), a half-witty, stream-of-consciousness type of narrative, which makes it very hard to flap from one page to the other without stifling a serious yawn or avoiding a faint roll of the eyelids (and to top it all we're also over-burdened with multiple footnotes on almost every page of the novel).

In short, not a very recommended read.. 

VERDICT: DON'T BUY (Because Ludmila's Broken English was bad enough..)

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