The creator of the short-lived but highly praised TV series Freaks and Geeks takes us on an enjoyable tour through some of the more vivid scenes of tortured 1970s adolescence in the American suburban landscape.
Gifted with a remarkable ability to remember the specific and singular torments of youth, Feig presents a collection of essays about a smorgasbord of incidents that should be familiar to anyone who has experienced life before age 18. There is the botched first kiss, the alternating boredom and misery of a single little-league season, the inevitability of a derogatory nickname based on his last name (Feig got off easy with “Fignewton” in elementary school, but by middle school had been dubbed “Fag”). The author plays it all for laughs, whether he's detailing the challenges of getting his matter-of-fact parents to whip up an elf costume for the elementary-school play (all costume elements were gleaned from his father's Army-Navy surplus store), or taking a frighteningly “fast” girl to the Christmas dance (she drinks, vomits, and then expects a kiss). Feig spares himself no humiliation, relaying with great gusto his discovery of masturbation during rope-climbing day in gym class, and his brief fascination with cross-dressing, which ended abruptly when his mother was in a car accident and, with no time to change, he had to appear at the scene in full drag. Though not much of a stylist—“I've never been much for sports” is a typical opening line—the author has a dead-on sense of timing and detail. Delivering any sort of message is secondary to getting a laugh, but Feig does convey the absolute bewilderment of being a kid who cannot automatically accept the countless social conventions that seem unquestioned by his peers.
A zippy reminder of what we've all thankfully escaped.