King Dork

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006
by Frank Portman #28

I enjoyed this book so much it has been difficult for me to figure out how to write about it. I've been putting it off for MONTHS, and now I've had to go back to look around for things I half-remembered and wanted to check on and ended up reading a lot of it again. It's that kind of book.

Question: As a woman in my thirties, should I be concerned that I found King Dork, a Young Adult novel written in the first person voice of a fourteen year old boy, and considered by some to be a quintessentially "guy's book," to be so entirely relatable and one of the best novels I've read in a long time?
Answer: No. Good is good, and this IS REALLY GOOD. It probably doesn't hurt that it hits a lot of your quirk buttons, though.

Question: oh, really?? I don't suppose you mean my innate good taste and appreciation for a well-written and engaging story.
Answer: You know what I mean!

Question: do you have to make me sound like some sort of pervert? can't you just answer the question?
Answer: Well, since you brought it up, I will mention that this book is sexually frank and forthright, sometimes raunchy but not skeevy. But you probably think you're talking about the music, the mystery, the mods, the brilliantly drawn characters, the keen observation of high-school hell, the obsession with vocabulary....

Question: That's more like it!
Answer: that's not a question.

Question: Just shut it, will you?
Answer: I know it doesn't cost anything to post this, but don't you think you could make better use of your resources?

Question: Who's asking the questions around here?
Answer: ...

Question: Is the answer provided to the question "what is the best rock band of all time?"
Answer: yes.

Question: The 15th best rock band of all time?
Answer: yes.

Question: Did you find Tom Henderson (aka King Dork, aka Chi-Mo), our narrator, to be self-aware to an unbelievable degree?
Answer: No. He IS highly self-aware, and in lesser hands it would seem like a total bullshit author self-insertion, but he's ... I don't know. I bought it. He was breaking my heart and cracking me up simultaneously on just about every page, but all in a way that seemed believably fourteen.

Question: Did it remind you a little of Freaks and Geeks ?
Answer: at first, mainly because there is a Sam in both of them and both the book and the series are dealing with being completely socially unfit in high-school. And the army jacket, oddly. But other than that they separated pretty quickly in my mind (while both remaining excellent).

Question: Can you give me that quote, you know the one where Tom is being all insightful, wise, curious, yearning, fourteen and FUNNY all in one paragraph?
Answer:Well, there are certainly lots of those, but I think this one fits the bill. It's on p.133 where he is wondering what "sweet, ordinary boyfriend-girlfriend things" might be with Fiona. (or Fake Fiona):
"I only mention it because I have this idea, a dream, really, that part of what it would mean is that the boyfriend is in this little club with the girlfriend where when one is hurt or troubled or being assailed by the cruelties of the world, the other decides not to be on the side of the world, but to join forces with the other member of the club against the world, even if it is frowned upon, even if it's a doomed scenario, even if the world is definitely gonna win. Like you're allies. The last remnant of your people. A Sex Alliance Against Society. But maybe I have it all wrong. It does sound like a quaint, far-fetched idea, now that I've put it in words. And also overly dramatic, if something can be o. d. and q. at the same time."

Question: is there a glossary, and if so, is it hilarious?
Answer: yes and yes!

Question: Why are you so stingy? Can't you see I was totally hinting around for an example?
Answer: It's not like you're subtle.

Question: Look, will you give me an example or not?
Answer: okay. But don't be expecting everything to go your way because I capitulated on this one thing.

Question: ... am I having this argument with MYSELF?
Answer: ::sigh:: you don't want to know. Here is your glossary entry:

normal (nor-MAL): lacking in taste, compassion, understanding, kindness, and ordinary human decency.
4 comments on "King Dork"
  1. Q: Is that one of your best posts ever?
    A: Signs point to Yes!

  2. Q: And is Jen doing royal service in the name of great literature, and speading the word as it need be spread, despite the somewhat schizophrenic nature of her helpful discourse?
    A: Yup, yuh-huh and you bet.
    A: Sam Hellerman is a genius.

  3. Question: Should I be embarrassed that these comments please me so much?
    Answer: PROBABLY, but you're only human. Although I'm not sure that an internet diagnosis of schizophrenia is really something to get excited about.

    Question: Who asked you?
    Answer: I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that it might incriminate me.

    Question: You can't take the fifth in blog comments, can you?
    Answer: I believe I just did.

    Question: okay, let's try to end this on a high note, shall we? Is Sam Hellerman really a genius?
    Answer: YES.

  4. Q: Do I trust your taste in books?
    A: Yes, that is why I have reserved said book. 1 of 1.
    Q: Will it take a long time to reach me?
    A: I think not?


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