The Manchester Review
Matthew Hull
Interview with DBC Pierre
Interview
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Trying to get hold of information regarding DBC Pierre’s third novel, Lights out in Wonderland, had proven very difficult. The internet was abuzz with anticipatory mentions: appearances in lit-bloggers' ‘top 10 for 2010’ lists, talk of forthcoming reviews, and chatter - as there always seems to be - of the author’s chequered past. There was nothing concrete though, nothing from Pierre himself, and even the official channels seemed confused or confusing.

A call to his publisher, Faber, yielded little: “I don’t have information on that title yet, except for a release date.” Browsing his agent’s website turned up a detailed recipe for ‘Olive Ridley Turtle Necks in Parmesan & Brioche Crumbs’ in place of a synopsis for the book. Was there a conspiracy to prevent me from discovering any more about the book? I was beginning to feel like a character in one of Pierre’s hallucinatory satires.

“What is the release date they gave you at Faber?” Pierre asks, his voice at once gravel and syrup.

"The second of September, they say."

“Really? The second of September.” His voice quavers a little. He shifts in his chair. Is this unease? Maybe not, his phone is ringing in his pocket; “It’s my editor, sorry.”

We're sitting in the green room at the Martin Harris Centre, which is really a sort of dirty-beige room still buzzing with admin staff from its daytime use as one of the university’s undergraduate affairs offices. Pierre is due on stage in just over an hour, to read from the highly anticipated Lights Out.., and afterwards will be in conversation with his personal friend and Centre for New Writing lecturer, M.J. Hyland. The next morning he will give a short seminar on writing to the Centre’s students, by the end of which he will have charmed them all.

“Yes, they’re looking after me very well,” Pierre says, giving the bottle of beer in his hand a little shake. He nods and cracks a smile.

“I think it’s there. The only thing is that it needs to unfold very clearly and tie itself together correctly. Lay it down for a night and look at the writing.”

Pierre hangs up the phone and takes a drink from the bottle. “My editor has just forestalled the possibility that I would read tonight from a book that he hadn’t read.”

Confirmation, then: there isn't just a tangle of blind alleys, it hasn't been just a labyrinthine Borgesian hoax - the book is real. Now that I know I am eager to find out everything I can. I take a breath and click on the Dictaphone.


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