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Lights Out in Wonderland

Lights Out in Wonderland

2.0 3
by DBC Pierre

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"Lights Out in Wonderland has all the verbal wit and energy of Vernon God Little."—Financial Times

Gabriel Brockwell—aesthete, philosopher, disaffected twenty-something decadent—is thinking terminal. He's decided to kill himself—but not immediately. His destination is Wonderland. The style of the journey is all


"Lights Out in Wonderland has all the verbal wit and energy of Vernon God Little."—Financial Times

Gabriel Brockwell—aesthete, philosopher, disaffected twenty-something decadent—is thinking terminal. He's decided to kill himself—but not immediately. His destination is Wonderland. The style of the journey is all that's to be decided.

Traveling between London, Tokyo, and Berlin, Gabriel is in search of the bacchanal to obliterate all previous parties. His adventure takes in a spell in rehab, a near-death experience eating a poisonous Japanese delicacy, and finally an orgiastic feast in the bowels of Berlin's majestic Tempelhof Airport. Along the way, Gabriel falls apart, only to reemerge with a new outlook on the world and a mission to right his past wrongs.

Lights Out in Wonderland is an allegorical banquet, a sly commentary on these End Times and the march toward banality, and a joyful expression of the human spirit.

Editorial Reviews

Rodney Welch
Lights Out in Wonderland isn't perfect…but it's a terrific one-man show. Gabriel is the eloquent misanthrope Pierre has been looking for all along, good company even if you dislike him, gracefully moving from screed to story without missing a beat. He's a man who holds a mirror up to a suicidal society and sees himself, a genuine product of his time.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Man Booker–winner Pierre pulls a gonzo evisceration of these grim times in his high-octane third novel (after Ludmila's Broken English). Gabriel Brockwell, 26 and trapped in an English rehab facility, decides that suicide is his only option, but he's got some stops to make—first, his home in London, then to Tokyo where his friend, Nelson Smuts, is working as a chef at a restaurant specializing in poisonous blowfish, and finally on to Berlin to look up an old colleague of his father and to stage a last supper in the famous Tempelhof Airport. The narrative, of course, isn't really the point: it's the verbal pyrotechnics, the observations and digressions about society that sneak up on you with their scathing humor or cutting clarity. As a nihilistic screed that rails against capitalism and excesses, this hits all the right buttons (think a fusion of William Gibson's intelligence with Hunter S. Thompson's manic energy), but Pierre doesn't fare as well on the human dimension, finding little heart or genuine emotion in Gabriel or the grotesques he encounters. Even if the characters never really pop, Pierre's relentless energy will keep readers entertained and piqued. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Dazzling if coruscating invention or vulgar overreach? That was the mixed (and heated) response to Pierre's first novel, Vernon God Little, which won the Man Booker Prize. Expect the same response here: this latest has "the verbal wit and vitality" of that first book, says the Financial Times. Then there's the plot: Gabriel Brockwell has decided to kill himself, but first he wants to go to Wonderland—that is, have the bash of bashes, which takes him 'round the world for some wild times. Glitter for your literati.
The Guardian
“If any novelist can collate the killing irony of what is happening around us it is DBC Pierre.”
Kirkus Reviews

Man Booker winner Pierre (Ludmila's Broken English,2006, etc.) continues on his polarizing way with another extreme adventure, this one undertaken by a narrator who plans to kill himself.

Readers may not feel too terrible about that, since Gabriel, like Pierre's protagonist inVernon God Little(2002), is initially as obnoxious as he is motor-mouthed. Just checked into rehab by his father, Gabriel puffs defiantly on cigarettes while ranting about capitalism and messing with the staff. Soon he slips away for a final pre-suicide bacchanal with his best friend Smuts, who's working at an ultra-exclusive Tokyo restaurant that serves poisonous (and illegal)fuguto those who can afford it. Unfortunately, once Gabriel gets done loading him up with coke and booze, Smuts recklessly takes the challenge of a customer who wants the fish's extra-toxic liver. The customer winds up in the hospital, and Smuts in jail. The only way Gabriel can spring him is by getting Smuts' shadowy "sponsor," Didier Le Basque, to pull strings. And the only way to do that is to convince Didier, who makes a fortune creating one-of-a-kind banquets for rich thrill-seekers, that Gabriel can connect him to a unique venue. So off Gabriel goes to Berlin, where his detested father had a club in the 1990s. Things get even crazier when Gabriel actually does discover the perfect spot for a decadent feast: miles of tunnels and bunkers built for the Third Reich underneath Tempelhof Airport. Even as he enthusiastically participates in the excesses of Didier's right-hand man Thomas, who's arranging the bash in the bunkers, Gabriel is developing a guilty conscience about the whole affair. Can it be that our hero is growing up? Well, yes: Gabriel eventually drops his intended suicide, along with several other affectations of youth, though Pierre does feel obliged to provide an over-the-top finale involving fireworks both gastronomic and incendiary.

Considerably more mature than its predecessors, and just as scathingly brilliant with words, but this author is definitely an acquired taste.

Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
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Barnes & Noble
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

DBC Pierre’s first novel, Vernon God Little, won the Man Booker Prize. His other novels include Ludmila's Broken English and Lights Out in Wonderland. He lives in County Leitrim, Ireland.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Reynella, Australia

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Lights Out in Wonderland 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry, but this is the sillest, tritest writing I have read in a long time. The author just regurgitates tired old "anti capitalism" nonsense that we have heard for years. The thing reads like he copied text from protest phamplets and strung them together with a hint of a story. The narrator of the story comes across as an emotionally retarded young man who would feel right at home among the self indulgent nitwits of the sixties. Like most of them, he fancies himself smarter and better than the rest of humanities poor slobs who just go about their lives accepting their responsibilies. Something too mundane for our poor little mistreated hero. Do not waste your money on this garbage.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
I guess you have to be a fan of the author to get his writing. I couldn't get into this story of a twenty-something wanting to kill himself but yet writes a travelogue of his adventures across the globe. With footnotes and recipes, it was witty at times, but more confusing to me than enjoyable.