Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Release Spotlight: Spanking Shakespeare

Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizner

Shakespeare Shapiro hates his name. He considers it just one in a long line of horrible things that has happened to him in his seventeen years. Shakespeare (his parents decided not to give him and his younger brother Gandhi “normal” names) is a neurotic twelfth grader determined not to end his senior year without doing something like dating a girl or smoking pot for the first time, things Gandhi has been doing for years. Shakespeare has two good friends, Neil and Kate, and the three of them try their best to maneuver through their final year of high school before they head off to college.

Shakespeare is a talented writer and at the beginning of the school year he gets an assignment in English class to write his memoir. Throughout the book, in a clever device, we get to read parts of it. It’s a never-ending series of embarrassing and humiliating events. Some of the highlights include getting lost in Italy with his drunk father, being taken to a nearly X-rated film with his grandmother and being caught with a dirty magazine in seventh-grade math class.

Although sometimes sinking into clich├ęs (the dumb, but popular jock; the cute but poor girl, ala Molly Ringwold from Pretty in Pink) Spanking Shakespeare is funny and at times, heart-warming. Shakespeare—although occasionally irritating—is a nice guy and easy to root for.

Wizner captures teen angst well, but occasionally the characters sound more like thirty-somethings than teenagers. Also, I got the distinct impression he has his main character do and say things he himself wished he had done and said in high school. Shakespeare sometimes just seems too witty, too clever, too smart for the room. But then again, how many of us wish we could rewrite our own high school stories?

Review by Tim Josephs, Indigo Editing, LLC

ISBN: 978-0-375-84085-2
Publisher: Random House
Pub. Date: September 2007
Hardcover, $15.99

No comments:

Post a Comment