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Friday, December 28, 2007


Play it again,Sam
I don't quite know when we forgot the radio.It might have been the day when we proudly flashed that oh-so-neat ipod.Or that brand-new phone with the great new sound system.Or maybe we might not have raised our heads from our laptops,after all.Whenever the death-blow may have been dealt,the fact is that we are all missing out on some forgotten pleasures.I re-discovered some of these during these holidays,courtesy a trusty old Philips.So,with a little help from Big Phil,I went about tackling a battered-looking copy of "Vernon God Little" ,the wickedly funny 2003 novel (I'll come to that soon).It was sheer bliss! The beauty of the radio lies in its uncertainty.As Tom Hanks reminded us all in Forrest Gump,"Mama always said life is a box of chocolates,you never know what you're gonna get." One moment you might get an absolutely foot-tapping number,and the very next song might be a slow,soothing golden oldie. Somehow,the absolute control one associates with a personal music system doesn't quite compare!
All of us agree,I think,that when you are on a month-long vacation from college,time tends to behave like Rahul Dravid on a sticky wicket(he made an agonizing 5 from 66 deliveries today against the aussies,by the way).I certainly owe a lot to Big Phil,in this respect.I suggest you guys find out for yourselves! So play on,ye sweet pipes,play on..........

Dirty But Clean
Yes,this is what DBC stands for , according to Peter Warren Finlay,the author who made his debut with "Vernon God Little" ,written under the nom de plume DBC Pierre.(The novel went on to win the Man Booker Award for 2003,along with plaudits from nearly all quarters)He might have been talking about his protagonist. Because 15 year old Vernon Gregory Little is both. The wise-cracking,sweet tenager also has a predilection for lying,has an unusually dirty tongue,and is especially unforgiving on his single mom.The action takes place in Martirio, the "barbecue-sauce capital of Texas". One of the main reasons why this novel works for me is its hilariously funny and harshly satirical take on small-town America-the petty concerns,the innate hypocrisies,and myopic dreams of its people.
Having said that,Vernon is a highly engaging narrator.Pierre has created one of the truly unforgettable characters of modern literature.You fall in love with him and his misadventures,even as you marvel at the quality of the comic writing on display.He finds himself on the run after being accused of a Columbine-style high school shootout which was actually committed by his lonely,dysfunctional Hispanic friend Jesus Navarro.The slightly hysteric tone of the novel works well as a rant against the trappings of pop culture and the TV rage(the reality TV gag towards the end will have you in splits).All in all,this is a delightful book,peopled with eccentric characters,and handled with a liberal dose of satire,yet remaining very compassionate.
Comparisons with "Catcher in the Rye" are ,perhaps inevitable , but in my opinion,this wacky work is in many ways superior to J.D.Salinger's much-loved classic.It does not go out of its way to make you cry,something Salinger was guilty of.Also,the handling of teenage angst is,I feel,much more maturely done by Pierre. The novel grabs you by the scruff of your neck,before you can say "Holden Caulfield"!

Read the New York Times review of "Vernon God Little" here

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