Monday, October 09, 2006

How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater, by Marc Acito

How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater, by Marc Acito

This is an odd book: I found myself admiring it and hating it at the same time. It is billed as the humorous story of how a kid tricked his father into paying his tuition to Julliard. Sounded amusing, but started really slow. It took the first third of the book to get to the point where tuition is denied; a lot of setup for a weak payoff. It came off as a young adult book: the protagonists are all teenagers and the subject is a coming-of-age story. However, the language and strong sexual content was extremely inappropriate for that age; many scenes are nothing more than fairly explicit porn with a strong homoerotic flavor. Forever by Judy Blume handles this topic in a mature and professional way, but Acito seems to prefer Hustler as a model.

The hero, Ed Zanni, is a self-important, pretentious, eccentric thespian—exactly the image I have in my head of an actor. His incessant whining (while ringing true for an irresponsible high school senior) was thoroughly unenjoyable. I can’t remember the last time I rolled my eyes so much when reading a book. The rest of the cast were all one-dimensional caricatures, The Breakfast Club gone horribly wrong.

That said, the imagery was fantastic: “a voice so warm and pure you want to take a bath in it.” (Oddly the author uses the same phrase later to describe sex.) Another phrase I liked: “Pairs of shoes should be like pairs of people. They should complement one another, not match.” While not very practical, it cemented the offbeat nature of the described character.

Coupled with my love of theater (I respect acting, but don’t have much in common with actors) and the fun phrases I was able to finish this fairly quickly, but I don’t think I’d recommend it.

First Sentence:
The story of how I paid for college begins like life itself—in a pool of water.

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