Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death

    There's this thing that happens every time that I eat a donut. My mind conjures up this memory from my childhood about donuts that tasted like rubber, but in a good way. I find that much of the appeal (or lack thereof) of a donut is how well it plays to this description, the source of which I had long forgotten, but the memory of which remains strong.
    While reading Daniel Pinkwater's Snarkout Boys I quickly got that deja vu feeling that just as quickly morphed into memory. While I hadn't remembered the title or the author, this story was a familiar one, one that I had read years before. Certain scenarios would begin and I would know where they were headed, sometimes only sentences before we arrived there together. The scene with the speeches in the park and the guy who keeps shouting about meat. The scene where Rat invites Walter and Winston over for family dinner. Or the scene in which Walter and Winston visit the Hasty Tasty Diner and each grab a donut that tastes like rubber and oh I can't believe it THIS IS THAT BOOK!
    What a joy it was to rediscover this novel from my childhood. A story of lonely misfits making their way through high school, slowly and maybe not so surely. This was the theme I sought out in fiction almost exclusively from the 5th through 9th grade. And while Snarkout Boys' reading level is more along 5th than 9th grade lines, it's a fun little adventure that I was glad to revisit. My son, Harrison, took one look at the title and said, "that just sounds silly," and it is. Very silly. And strange. And a little bit sad. It hints at the alienation that more modern YA fiction hits on so heavily and is more real in its imaginings for doing so. Pinkwater's fiction may be too fantastic to paint an accurate picture of what I was doing in middle school, but it is a more than fair assessment of how I was feeling. And reading it again was a nice reminder.

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