‘Fate songs’: musical agency and the literary soundtrack in D.B.C. Pierre’s Vernon God Little

Moorey, Gerard (2014) ‘Fate songs’: musical agency and the literary soundtrack in D.B.C. Pierre’s Vernon God Little. In: Litpop: Writing and Popular Music. Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series . Ashgate, Farnham, pp. 77-88. ISBN 978-1-4724-1097-9

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Abstract

In its satirical depiction of the adventures of a roguish hero of low social class who lives by his wits in a corrupt society, Vernon God Little (2003) conforms very closely to the conventions of the picaresque novel. Instead of chance encounters with other protagonists, however, the novel’s eponymous narrator more often has chance encounters with pop songs. Pop music thus forms part of the novel’s naturalistic and picaresque texture. Vernon refers to such songs as ‘fate tunes’ because of the way they determine the meaning of major events in his life. The ‘right’ song heard at the ‘right’ time – or even the ‘wrong’ song heard at the ‘wrong’ time – characterises Vernon’s consumption of pop music. This idea of the contingent meanings that pop songs acquire as they circulate between different social contexts is strongly tied in the novel to the themes of causality and determinism as Vernon unwittingly becomes embroiled in a trial-by-media for his alleged role in a high-school massacre. The novel’s ‘literary soundtrack’ helps ground it in its Texan setting, serves as a commentary on key episodes, and evokes the weariness of the teenage Vernon with the era in which he lives.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Media > Music and Media
Research Priority Areas: Being Human - Past, Present & Future
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2015 14:24
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2017 15:25
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/1291

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