Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Youth in Revolt by C.D. Payne

Friday, July 27 – My friend Lefty called up to say he was back from his vacation in Nice. (I’ll be lucky if we go to Modesto for ours.) I invited him over but cautioned him that if word got out I had a pink bedroom, I would be forced to tell Millie Filbert (who he’s had a crush on for years) why he’s called Lefty even though he is right-handed.

In case you haven’t heard, Lefty’s erect member takes a sudden and dramatic turn to the east about midway up the shaft. Although this worries him a lot, he’s never been able to bring it up (so to speak) with his parents.

“It would kill them to know I even get hard-ons,” Lefty says. He worries this abnormality will lead to targeting errors when he gets older. “What if I shove it up the wrong hole?” Lefty’s grasp of the female anatomy is somewhat tenuous; he imagines there are orifices galore down there.

You'll notice that the cover of this book promises it to be "the funniest book you'll read all year!" Lies. Well, I hope so anyway because this book was not that good. Or funny. Okay the above part is kind of funny. But the book's plot is so ridiculous and strange that it's hard to appreciate the humorous parts.

Nick Twisp is a 14 year old who falls in love with a girl named Sheeni over the summer. Nick's parents, who are divorced, are assholes. They have got to be some of the worst parents ever that don't actually abuse or neglect their kid. He switches from living with his mom halfway through the book to living with his dad - after learning that is mom is pregnant by her dead trucker boyfriend and that she plans to marry her new police officer boyfriend who hates Nick. Nick's dad, conveniently, has just taken a job with a publication based in Sheeni's home town. His mom is reluctant to let him go at first, but after a series of misadventures (Nick convinces Lefty to fake-commit suicide and disappear for a few weeks; then he steals a car and camper, drives them into downtown Berkley CA and somehow manages to set the whole contraption on fire, burning down half the downtown area) she acquiesces.

In Ukiah, Nick arrives to find that Sheeni has been sent away to boarding school (at her own behest) and decides to try and sabotage her experience so her parents will make her come home. He also manages to enrage his father and be charged with several crimes (arson stemming from the Berkeley fire, among other charges incurred while living in Ukiah) - necessitating that he disappear for a while. By this time, Sheeni has been removed from school and sent back home. Knowing that Nick contributed to her removal, she vows never to see him again.

The story gets really strange in the last third of the book, where Nick, on the run from the law, decides to move back to Ukiah but to squat in a neighbor's house and pretend to be a girl named Carlotta who attends the high school directly alongside Nick's former peers. The book ends shortly after Sheeni reveals that she's known it was Nick all along and found his devotion attractive, and after Nick becomes the surprise owner of millions of dollars. In the end, Nick is willing to cross dress for the rest of high school if it means living in the same town as Sheeni.

This book felt like it was trying too hard sometimes. I know a lot of people that really love it, but for me the jokes fell flat, the story sucked and the book took forever to read. It was, however made into a movie with Michael Cera so I would be interested to hear others' takes on that. It comes out at the end of February.

1 comment:

Christopher said...

Where does French Michael Cera enter into this?