PIZZA FACE by Ken Siman


or, The Hero of Suburbia
Email this review


 A comic debut that takes a fast trot through the homosexual coming-of-age of a middle-class North Carolina adolescent: a series of superficial set-pieces mostly, but the novel finally builds when its locale shifts to Washington, D.C. Andy, who ``was always looking for the right candidate,'' fills his loneliness by building a shrine to Jimmy Carter in his bedroom and by calling older men who collect political memorabilia: ``In high school, Andy's goal was to have the biggest Jimmy Carter collection in the whole country.'' Through this obsession, he meets a string of grotesques as well as Preston, who ``models underpants in the `Dads-n-Lads' section of the Sears, Roebuck catalogue.'' As Andy discovers his sexual orientation, he also gets a case of the zits--he ``preferred being called `Pizza Face' to `Monster Face.' '' The story bogs down in some low-rent satire of suburbia and officious types before Andy moves on to Chapel Hill for college and an unrequited crush on roommate Ryan. After participating in a study of a new acne medication (``By the end of the study, Andy's face was coming off'') and meeting Mary Alice (which results in a tepid affair while he fantasizes about Ryan), Andy gets involved in political reporting and nabs a job as an intern in Washington, D.C. His introduction to high-rolling political types, overtly gay young men, and cocaine results (the book's liveliest section) in a bland, unsatisfying affair with manipulative Ryan--Andy finally rejects him by knocking him unconscious--and in an older-but-wiser understanding of the world. Siman is so intent on getting every adolescent humiliation recorded that the final effect is blurry and, in places, sophomoric. Still, the voice is quirky and original, making him a writer to watch.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-8021-1398-2
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1991