Thursday, September 6, 2012

55 Books in a Year: Book #47 The Amazing and Death-Defying Diary of Eugene Dingman

When it comes to coming of age novels I enjoy an good story about an angsty, awkward teenage boy. I especially enjoy this kind of book when our male protagonist narrates. It's no wonder why I am in deep love with the blonde, uncomfortable male lead in the novel The Amazing and Death-Defying Diary of Eugene Dingman by Paul Zindel. Eugene Dingman reminds me a lot of Holden Caulfield, both are angsty and self-absorb, but when I was younger I felt they hung the moon.

I didn't realize how much this book is a foundation of my being until I re-read it. My favorite quote and philosophy of living comes from this novel.
"It doesn't make any difference what you do in the bedroom as long as you don't do it in the street and frighten the horses." ~Mrs. Patrick Campbell
Although I thought it was my idea to read Madame Bovary, I think it started here with Eugene.

I also didn't realize how many references, pop and political, lit and theatrical, exist in this book and you can't tell me that the Kauffman's (think Friends') and the Palladino's (think The Gilmore Girls) weren't subtly influenced by this book and Zindel as well.

One can not argue that this novel is a classic, a classic YA novel that I just had to nominate for the classic YA read for the month of August, (Nobody's commented on my comments if you want to join, read and do so that would be awesome). It follows the basic classic literature tenets.

From and a conversation had at YA Reads...
1] is an expression of life truth or beauty this is a coming of age novel that has a male protagonist that deals with many of the things (family relationships or lack thereof, thoughts of suicide, friendships, running away) that teens deal with, and we read about his life 1st hand in his journal...whether the authors know it or not, this book is a foundation for books such as The Perks of Being a Wall-flower, An Abundance of Katherines's and  Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, as they have conflicted male voices as protagonists.

2] stands the test of time it's on many booklist, especially when looking for classic male coming of age books...and, i found several reading list, here are three of note:

Paul Zindel's Classic Novels
Various school districts including this one
Reading Suggestions for Advanced Readers

 It's also 'an American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age

3] has universal appeal Zindel's books are much like SE Hinton's books in the sense that they appeal to a certain kind of kid, usually reluctant reader types or fringe kids as his characters exhibit some of these traits...Eugene Dingman is no exception.

4] makes connections From the back: "On his fifteenth birthday, precocious Eugene Dingman begins the amazing and death-defying diary of his summer spent as a waiter at a ritzy Adirondack resort." Here's a review from 1988 that I think hits the nail on the head. Any person who has doubted, wonder, puzzled and struggled will find something to relate to in the character Eugene Dingman. I know I did! Hope this helps! :D

Seriously, go grab yourself that mix-tape I know you've been itching to play since you found your tape player, pop it in and read this lovely homage to the 80s, brilliant teenagers full of ennu and summertime. Afterwards you might want to watch Dirty Dancing or any movie involving John Cusack as a teenager. You've been warned.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...