No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Monday, May 08, 2006

#43: How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theatre -- Marc Acito

This is a self-referential teen movie of a book -- there's plenty of references to framing, soundtracks (Handel's Hallelujah Chorus), the perfect line -- but there's more to it than just another Breakfast Club rip-off. It's got all the key ingredients, though: schemes that backfire but turn out better than anyone ever intended; predatory older woman; eccentric best friend (opposite sex); gorgeous best friend (same sex); stunning girlfriend / boyfriend, with whom things are not going quite as they should; raw ambition, thwarted by parental disapproval; and a cameo for a really famous person, in this case Frank Sinatra.

For a novel that's set in 1983, the use of computers seems a bit too advanced. And there is no hint at all about the wider world, except a single reference to HIV. But this was a very enjoyable read, heartfelt in all the right places (I can see why Edward wants to be an actor, and why he's going to be good at it) and laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes at the same time as the heartfelt bits. The teenage sexuality hits just the right imbalance of experience and understanding -- and this novel ventures where few Hollywood hits would go. What's more, there's character development, weird coincidence and yes, plenty of sex, friendship, crime (not just theft) and music theatre.

Not too frivolous to be well-written: not too earnest to be fun.

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