Saturday, February 02, 2008

Born To Rock--Gordon Korman

I have an appreciation post about Canadian author Gordon Korman coming up, but when I found this book in the YA shelf at the Euc, I had to grab it.

Leo P. Caraway has known for a long time that his dad isn't his biological father, and that's okay. He's not that curious about the Marion X. McMurphy listed on his birth certificate, who his mom refuses to discuss. He does refer to his occasional urges to wildness and rage as his McMurphy side. But still, as a Young Republican, honor student and future Harvard man, his future is secure. Until he gets innocently mixed up in a cheating scandal, loses his scholarship, gets dropped by the Young Republicans and finds out that Marion X. McMurphy is actually King Maggot of the seminal punk band Purge. In short, what the hell went wrong with his life? And how the hell can this guy be his father?

Leo sets out to get King to pay for his college education, but finds himself surprised by the man and developing a real bond. He signs on as a roadie for Purge's reunion tour, and hijinks ensue as he copes with hazing from the other roadies, finds himself being stalked by some high school friends following the tour, and dealing with needy, aging punk rockers.

The book's slim on character development, but Korman keeps the pace quick and humor coming. Leo is likeable, and no one is quite a stereotype. But I found myself most interested in King Maggot himself, and curious about what turned a would-be Kansas CPA into a punk rocker. There's an interesting novel right there.

There's read a likes galore for this book--the original (and best) issues of the comic Hopeless Savages, the other boys and bands books I've reviewed lately, Pagan Kennedy's The Exes, any Henry Rollins performance CDs or books, Jello Biafra's High Priest of Harmful Matter--Tales From The Trial spoken word album, Our Band Can Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991 by Michael Azerrad, Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil, and Lou Reed's poetry. Korman's earlier books have a singularly loopy charm that go well with writers like Connie Willis and P.G. Wodehouse.

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