Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How I Paid for College

How I Paid for College (2004)
by Michael Ende

The story of how I paid for college begins like life itself - in a pool of water.  Not in the primordial ooze from which prehistoric fish first developed arms and crawled onto the shore but in a heavily chlorinated pool of water in the backyard of Gloria D'Angelo's split-level ranch in Camptown, New Jersey.

Aunt Glo.

She's not my aunt, really, she's my friend Paula's aunt, but everybody calls her Aunt Glo and she calls us kids the LBs, short for Little Bastards.

Aunt Glo yells.  Always yells.  She yells from the basement where she does her son the priest's laundry.  She yells from the upstairs bathroom, where she scrubs the tub to calm her nerves.  And she yells from her perch behind the kitchen sink, where she stirs her marinara sauce and watches us float in the heavily chlorinated pool of water.

Like life itself, the story of how I paid for college begins with a yell ...

Thus begins one of the single funniest books I've ever read.  How I Paid for College is subtitled A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship, and Musical Theater.  It's a difficult book to describe (as the subtitle probably suggests), but it's HYSTERICAL ... particularly if you're a "theatre person."  Here's the description from the back of the book ...

"It's 1983 in Wallingford, New Jersey, a sleepy bedroom community outside Manhattan.  Seventeen-year-old Edward Zanni, a feckless Ferris Bueller type, is Peter Panning his way through a carefree summer of magic and mischief.  The fun comes to a halt, however, when Edward's father remarries and refuses to pay for Edward to study acting at Juilliard.  So Edward turns to his misfit friends to help him steal the tuition money from his father.  Disguising themselves as nuns and priests, Edward and his friends merrily scheme their way through embezzlement, money laundering, identity theft, forgery, and blackmail.  But along the way, Edward also learns the value of friendship, hard work, and how you're not really a man until you can beat up your father - metaphorically, that is."

It's an adult, EXTREMELY black comic caper with a cast of delightful teen-angsty misfits (these are NOT the "Glee" kids) ... I read it when it first came out and I've been staring at it (and its sequel Attack of the Theater People) on my "favorites bookshelf" for some time now.  I need to give them another go!

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