Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Catchier and wry

If you read and share as much as I do, then you're entitled to start judging a book by its cover. Take King Dork. After seeing tiny thumbnails of what resembled a messy purplish cover, I looked closer and realized the truth: it's a tattered reworking of a famous maroon and yellow novel.

King Dork is shelved in the Young Adult section of the library, but it's really a must-read for people way past their adolescence. The novel follows sensible, postrebel high schooler Tom Henderson; I consider him sensible because he knows high school is worthless. The people who grew up loving The Catcher in the Rye are old enough to teach it now, and Tom knows enough to be able to talk to the Catcher cult but emerge unscathed.

Tom and his close friend Sam Hellerman are in a band. Well, sort of. Before they get instruments, it's a band in spirit. They go through a parade of hysterical band names, album titles, and rock star personas on nearly a weekly basis. (There's a convenient list of the band's name evolution at the end of the book.)

Over the course of a fall semester, Tom navigates through the perils of high school society, trying to be left alone. At home he has a somewhat self-absorbed sister, an overmedicated mother, and a woefully out-of-touch hippie stepfather (my favorite character). Upon finding a set of his late father's high school books, he reads them for clues, and to perhaps forge a posthumous connection.

What else is there to know? Well, a lot, and you can prepare accordingly. The author, Frank Portman, has photos of people reading his book in his blog. He's part of a band himself, the Mr. T Experience. Feel free to scan the lists of books Tom reads and albums he listens to. And then watch the trailer.

But it's still not enough. Read the book. Relive the annoyances of academia and the uselessness of physical education (boxing?). Teachers who can't pronounce words. Chicks who dig bands, even hypothetical ones. And discover, as Tom does, that Sam Hellerman is a genius. Rock and roll.


Brando said...

Have you ever listened to Portman's(aka Dr. Frank) band, The Mr. T Experience? Really terrific pop-punk with very clever (often hilarious) lyrics. Songs like "Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend," "The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful," and "I Wrote a Book About Rock and Roll." Good stuff.

King Dork is on my short list for reading -- seems like a perfect book to take to the beach in a few weeks.

Neel Mehta said...

Haven't heard anything from the Mr. T Experience, but the clever lyrics don't surprise me. I have a feeling that ideas he couldn't use for his band (Margaret? It's God. Please shut up.) were used in the book.

Good choice for beach reading. You'll zip right through it.

Tonya said...

Thanks for the recommendation but, Neel, where do you find the time to read AND blog? I can't seem to do both.