Sunday, December 21, 2008

King Dork by Frank Portman

I know this is an older title, but I've been wanting to read it for a while. And it was worth the wait. By the way, Portman is also a musician, is in a band called the Mr T Experience, and even wrote some songs about the book (included on the audio version!)

Tom Henderson is smart, geeky, and at the very bottom of the social ladder. He wears combat clothes to keep the bullies at bay and spends his time with his friend Sam Hellerman playing video games and making up incredible and utterly outrageous band names and writing songs (many of which are brilliant, worth reading the book for (!)— like Margaret? It's God. Please Shut Up.) Tom does not know much about the exact circumstances of his father’s death (was it suicide? Murder? An accident?) So when he finds his Dad’s copy of The Catcher in the Rye, with secret messages inside, Tom decides to decode the messages, and try to find out more about his father (and, believe me, you’ll never think of Catcher in the Rye in the same way again, or the Ramones for that matter). Oh, Hillmont High school is a harsh and scary place for Tom.

Full of literary references, sex, drugs, and rock and roll this is a very different kind of novel. It takes a while to get used to the pace of the book but I found myself immersed and shaking with laughter at times. Yes, it’s very funny (OK, immature and wise–cracking but funny!) with a cast of characters that linger—especially Little Big Tom (my favorite!) and Mr Schtuppe, who teaches the class the art of mispronunciation. It's a coming of age story to remember.

And I hear it's going to be made into a movie, produced by Will Ferrell!

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