A young Chicagoan finds an unstructured but effective alternative to public education in this toothy satire, set in the ism-crazed 1950s. In his first week at Riverview High, Robert is accused of being either a commie or a fairy by his homeroom teacher, informed of an international Jewish conspiracy by his English teacher, spends hours copying dreary blackboard essays into a notebook, and finds himself sitting at the geck table at lunch. Soon he's cutting classes, thinking--wrongly, it turns out--that no one much cares; to head off imminent transfer to reform school, Robert persuades his parents to enroll him at Wheaton, a small private school with a decidedly looser approach to learning. As every student automatically gets all A's, there's no need to attend classes. Robert soaks up contemporary thought and culture as he meets as wacky an assemblage office spirits as has ever sprung from Pinkwater's fevered imagination: He hangs out with teachers and classmates at movie houses, the local greasy spoon, a jazz bar, a beat bookstore, and the public library; attends college lectures armed with a fake ID; and makes excellent money helping a schoolmate deliver furniture. Falling somewhere between Candide and Holden Caulfield, Robert is an inexperienced but savvy teen, with an ability to land on his feet and capacity for sardonic observations that will have readers rocking with laughter.