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Wow. What a blitzkrieg.
As the last ripples fan to the edge of the pool, and DBC Pierre's "loose trilogy" bids the world adieu, you wonder whether he's not having trouble letting go: at least three blind summits come and go before you finally get there (I was well and truly ready for it) and even then, after the curtain has fallen, DBC seems reluctant to sign off, calling from the wings, supplying rules of interpretation and further clues to the hermeneutic after the final whistle.
You sure as hell need them, and that's no compliment from a traditionalist sort of a chap who believes a novel should stand or fall on its text as presented. I don't think you could say that in a million years about Lights Out in Wonderland, which raves and rambles all over the place, like a stream- of-consciousness fire hose that's been let go: it is bombastic, articulate, erudite, esoteric and often funny, but all the same it's a mess, it is incoherent, and I have absolutely no idea what Pierre's point was in writing it.
Narrator Gabriel Brockwell plays like something between Rik from Comic Strip's The Young Ones and Richard E. Grant's character in Withnail And I (correct: neither are likeable figures) - by turns a fruitlessly over-educated dilettante and a selfish, hypocritical prig. Despite being on the end of telling damnations from characters as he goes (his father, his flatmate, his girlfriend, and various Germans) - these are the most coherent and biting passages in the book - Gabriel sees the world as everyone else's problem, and has resolved to kill himself.
Being a self-described epicurean, philosopher and poet (Pierre appears to share this view: I'd describe Gabriel more narrowly as just a bit of a git) Gabriel wishes to end on a "nimbus" high (you sort of have to just imagine what this might be - he says "Whoosh" a lot) and so instead of quickly topping himself (which would have suited me fine) he effortlessly and implausibly glides, leaving a trail of utter destruction in his wake, from his voluntary sectioning in a mental hospital in the south of England via his London flat to precipitating an unfortunate death in a haute cuisine restaurant in Tokyo and organising an End-of-Days banquet in the soon to be derelict Tempelhof airport - once a jewel in the Nazi crown - at the centre of Berlin.
His plan is to organise a Bacchanalian feast, spring his compadre from a Japanese gaol and finally, victoriously, buy the farm.
Why this trajectory? Your guess as good as mine. Coherence doesn't seem to be a high priority for Pierre who, without so much as a by your leave, introduces characters, dilemmas and problems and just as casually jettisons them (or perhaps plain forgets about them) as he goes. It feels like this novel was written in a single, drug fueled blitz.
For all that the book remains surprisingly engaging. I got to the end, and I'm prone to binning books like this. It's so bombastic in style you can only get through it at pace, by aquaplaning, and at that pace there are consolations, though twenty four hours after putting the book down it's hard to recall what these are.
The final feast descends at the end into something resemblent of Caligula (no doubt Pierre would point instead to The Satyricon) - blackly comic, I suppose, if more than a little queasy - but I closed the book wondering what its point was, other to show off its author's obvious erudition and make the point, which hardly needed this industry, that we live in banal times.
Pierre is able and willing to descend into gothic depravity, but he isn't funny enough and nor is his satire pointed enough to make his self indulgence worth the read.