Tuesday, February 6, 2007

the king dork code

I’ve been reading the YA novel, King Dork, by Frank Portman, a lead singer/guitarist in a San Francisco Bay area punk band. His main character, Tom Henderson, a high school ‘dork’ who fantasizes on starting his own rock band, has pretty much read all the YA ‘classics,’ and prides himself on being nothing like the characters in them. He heaps sarcasm on Catcher in the Rye, and Separate Peace, and this works to give him his unique, conflicted voice. He dismisses teachers and parents who found those books and similar heroic in their own youth. Especially Catcher, which I sort of liked back then, but I can understand that. Attempts by Tom to decode messages tucked into the books left to him by his dead father are a little involved, but work to advance plot and subplots. High school bullying and sex seem a little far out at times, but maybe not. Tom’s spacey mom and flower-era stepdad provide good backdrops for Tom’s angst. This is a first novel by Portman, and a pretty good startup.

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