DBC Pierre - Lights out in Wonderland (3 stars)

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DBC Pierre - Lights out in Wonderland

(Faber)

The third novel from Booker-winner DBC Pierre promises vivid, unthinkable decadence, but delivers a self-absorbed quarter-life crisis. Chronicling the alleged end days of suicidal pamphleteer Gabriel Brockwell – wannabe miscreant, anti-capitalist zealot and an unwittingly droll ‘compulsive philosopher’ – Lights out in Wonderland unravels via modern-day London, Tokyo and Berlin, as our hapless 25-year-old protagonist tries to score a final night of sin. His endeavours, however, are thwarted by a poison blowfish, an incarcerated chef and a generally serpentine plot that is studded with drugs, revelations and diamonds.

It’s a colourful tale, if a bit overblown – Pierre’s culinary imagination is particularly fertile – and while not especially original or profound, the ‘poet’ Brockwell’s earnest footnotes on hangovers and energy are modestly enlightening. There’s a vaguely teenage diary feel about the book’s confidential narrative (see Brockwell’s comparison of his hair with the ‘dying wave of capitalism’) making this strangely akin to Adrian Mole feigning Hunter S Thompson.

Comments

1. MuffD21 Oct 2010, 12:11am4 stars DBC Pierre - Lights out in Wonderland Report

Nigel Molesworth shows us how to joke critically about the inevitable constraints of society that we are faced with. As a kid we are allowed the freedom to laugh openly before being marched towards the corridor of responsibility. Thankfully Hunter S Thompson and DBC Pierre remind us how to laugh, with intelligence, at the setting we face in our more adult lives so as to remind us not to be unspoken.

Lights Out is a brilliant read. The footnotes are enlightened. The wit cushions the reader with the comfort to relax and enjoy the philosophical and social commentary. The observations as to the nature of economy, society and kulture (sic) as affected by ones place in space and time are well constructed and at appear profound. The choice of settings based in Tokyo and East Berlin is brilliantly conceived.

At times the author ventures into verse as magic as Mozart's flute.

At some points one is left scratching ones head wondering "what the.." still, I suspect one faces such issues when dancing along that fine white line of brilliance and madness, thus only 4-1/2*'s.

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