Known Johnson

February 12, 2007

Book Report! King Dork by Frank Portman

Filed under: General — Tom @ 10:41 pm

I’m not even going to attempt a formal book report – I haven’t done any such thing since high school and, frankly, I simply don’t have the background to make an attempt on the level with my music reviews, but I will say this: music lovers should take a good look at former Mr. T Experience frontman Frank Portman’s first novel, King Dork. I’m not a fan of the band – I’ve never heard them, only know them by name – but Portman weaves his vast knowledge of rock into this involving story of a loser teenager trying to untwist the complicated knots of not only his life but the life of the father who’d died before he ever really got to know him. And it’s frequently hilarious.

The story is built around misfit teen Tom Henderson finding his father’s worn copy of Catcher In The Rye, among many other books, and among the pages of these books are found mysterious notations to himself that Tom slowly begins to decipher as his own life begins to grow more and more complicated. Tucked into the many details uncovered by Tom and his sole friend and bandmate, the too smart for his own good Sam Hellerman, are nuggets of humorous observations about life from the teenage perspective, some about music, some about girls, and many of them surprisingly effective at showing this self-described loser actually growing without it being as obvious as it might sound. Not to mention a revolving door of band names and music-trivia that should have any music fiend smiling the whole way through.

What pleased me most was that this book did something I can’t remember a book doing for me in a long, long time: it actually shocked me with a turn of events that I had no idea was coming. I don’t even want to begin describing it so you, too, can stumble upon it like I did. Just let this one rumble along being a fun read – it starts out a bit rough, as it seems many first-time writers do with a lot of exposition, but when the story gets rolling, it’s a good ride.

Now for the part that I don’t want to have turn you away: this one’s filed under “young adult,” mostly because it’s about a “young adult,” not because it’s truly a “young adult” book. I really don’t think it’s actually aimed at teens, and I think most of the themes are more advanced than most teens would really grasp, unless they were as sophisticated as this one.

Don’t let this one slip by. You’ll want to have read this before the movie comes out, because you can bet there’ll be a movie made of this one, and it’ll be the next Napoleon Dynamite. (Will Ferrell’s production company has actually bought the rights to this.)

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