Thursday, June 29, 2006

King Dork

I just finished reading “Dr. Frank” Portman’s recently-published “young adult” novel, King Dork and I liked it a lot.

You can (at least, I could) interpret it as a brilliant contemporary response to Catcher in the Rye (which figures prominently as a symbol of baby-boomer excess, narcissism, and cluelessness in the book) as well as a real page-turner full of witty asides: “Reading books can be a lot of fun when they’re not the same ones that they make you read over and over and over till you want to shoot yourself,” insightful observations: “Being human is an excuse for just about anything but it also kind of sucks in a way,” and well-deserved invective for people who came age in the 1960s: “You stuck it to the old man, killed half your brain cells, and dumbed down the educational system: you ARE the greatest generation.”

As the narrator, Tom “Chi-Mo” Henderson says, “It’s actually a kind of complicated story, involving at least half a dozen mysteries, plus dead people, naked people, fake people, teen sex, weird sex, drugs, ESP, Satanism, books, blood, Bubblegum, guitars, monks, faith, love, witchcraft, the Bible, girls, a war, a secret code, a head injury, the Crusades, some crimes, mispronunciation skills, a mystery woman, a devil-head, a blow job, and rock and roll.”

One of the running gags in King Dork is that Tom and his buddy, Sam Hellerman are in a band whose name keeps changing, from, for instance, Liquid Malice to Silent Nightmare, to Occult Blood, to Oxford English. Usually the band name, members, and first album are provided, e.g. Band Name: The Elephants of Style; Guitar: Mot Just; Bass and Animal Husbandry: Sam Enchanted Evening; First Album: Off the Charts—Way Off.

Here’s mine: Band Name: Connie In a Bottle; Guitar: Spin Noza; Bass: Cliff Palette; First Album: Orange Cheese and Crackers—Hold the Cheese.

Now all I need are some songs, each exactly, of course, 327 words long.


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