THE AMAZING AND DEATH-DEFYING DIARY OF EUGENE DINGMAN by Paul Zindel

THE AMAZING AND DEATH-DEFYING DIARY OF EUGENE DINGMAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Using the combination of bizarre incident and teen-age angst that has become his hallmark, Zindel gives us the diary of a 15-year-old during a summer that brings him close to terminal despair. Finding her son insufferable, Eugene's mother has thrown him out of their Bayonne home by arranging a summer job for him at a resort on Lake ""Henry"" (George?). The lowliest waiter, picking up the job as he goes along (some slapstick here, but his situation is so painful it lacks humor), he is virtually friendless. Overbright, irrepressible, he makes schedules: read classics, learn Latin, write stories, collect mind-boggling headlines. Insensitively and too persistently, he tries to date Della, who dates his archenemy and lies to him. He backs off from a friendly old Hindu who advises him to make Della love him by loving himself. But no one else (except his sister, Penelope) loves him, either--he is so callow and awkward that he would be difficult to love. He writes to his father, begging a visit; his father's girlfriend replies, explaining how busy their vacations keep them. In the end, everyone (except Penelope) has abandoned or betrayed him, and we might fear for his life; but apparently his invincible intelligence and perseverance will see him through. The jacket suggests an autobiographical link, at least in setting. Skillfully written, the novel's bleak descent should appeal to pessimistic teens, who may be buoyed up by Eugene's Final burst of courage as he sets forth on the rest of his life.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1987
ISBN: 193516936X
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Harper & Row