THE PEDANT AND THE SHUFFLY

The funniest—perhaps the only genuinely funny—religious book of the past few years was St. Fidgeta and Other Parodies by Bellairs and Fitschen. Now, St. Fidgeta will have to move over and make room for a pedant (whose specialty is proving that his friends do not exist) and a neighbor's pet shuffly ("scuffulans hirsutus; they live in fens and eat Mayflies, bulrush hearts, and linen napkins"), who manage, in a very slender volume, to be the instruments by which being, and therefore all beings, are/is allegorized, fableized, and parodied to within an inch of its life. The authors' delightful nastiness makes one almost forgive the publisher for publishing in book form what is really a magazine piece of standard length.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 1968

ISBN: 1887726071

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1968

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THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

Aspiring filmmaker/first-novelist Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst—the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists, though some might object to the sexuality, drinking, and dope-smoking. More sophisticated readers might object to the rip-off of Salinger, though Chbosky pays homage by having his protagonist read Catcher in the Rye. Like Holden, Charlie oozes sincerity, rails against celebrity phoniness, and feels an extraliterary bond with his favorite writers (Harper Lee, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Ayn Rand, etc.). But Charlie’s no rich kid: the third child in a middle-class family, he attends public school in western Pennsylvania, has an older brother who plays football at Penn State, and an older sister who worries about boys a lot. An epistolary novel addressed to an anonymous “friend,” Charlie’s letters cover his first year in high school, a time haunted by the recent suicide of his best friend. Always quick to shed tears, Charlie also feels guilty about the death of his Aunt Helen, a troubled woman who lived with Charlie’s family at the time of her fatal car wreck. Though he begins as a friendless observer, Charlie is soon pals with seniors Patrick and Sam (for Samantha), stepsiblings who include Charlie in their circle, where he smokes pot for the first time, drops acid, and falls madly in love with the inaccessible Sam. His first relationship ends miserably because Charlie remains compulsively honest, though he proves a loyal friend (to Patrick when he’s gay-bashed) and brother (when his sister needs an abortion). Depressed when all his friends prepare for college, Charlie has a catatonic breakdown, which resolves itself neatly and reveals a long-repressed truth about Aunt Helen. A plain-written narrative suggesting that passivity, and thinking too much, lead to confusion and anxiety. Perhaps the folks at (co-publisher) MTV see the synergy here with Daria or any number of videos by the sensitive singer-songwriters they feature.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02734-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: MTV/Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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ASPHALT ANGELS

The riveting true story of a 13-year-old boy living on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, as do thousands of children, without shelter or hope. Holtwijk submerses readers into Alex’s reality, his diminishing dreams, and his fears. His stepfather drives him from his home when his mother dies; on the streets he meets a few kind people, but ends up living with a gang whose members survive by theft and find solace sniffing glue. Alex knows the dangers of glue and wants to remain honest, hoping only for “a bed and a mother,” but his terror increases daily as he learns to steal. He reluctantly makes one drug run, and uses his pay to buy a real dinner and one night in a hotel. He’s eventually rescued, but many others are not. Holtwijk constructs Alex’s world, conjures the terrors of his nights, makes specific his stolen and begged food, his filthy clothes and matted hair, and his attempts to cling to innocence. Readers will inhabit Alex’s life, for a time, and they will understand and admire him, deeply. (Nonfiction. 14+)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 1999

ISBN: 1-886910-24-3

Page Count: 183

Publisher: Lemniscaat/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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