Last November, my NaNoWriMo project included the point of view of a 17-year-old boy. Now, this might come as a surprise, but I’ve never been a 17-year-old boy. I’ve hung out with a lot of them, but I never was in their minds. So for research’s sake, I googled books that would show the “uncensored” thoughts of that particular species.
Spanking Shakespear by Jake Wizner is the one that caught my attention… and I am so glad it did. My only disappointment is: Why is there no French translation of that book? This should be translated! It is a debut novel by a man whose main source of income isn’t writing, and yet it is the kind of writing that makes me despair I’ll never write so well (right until it becomes a challenge, haha). I guess Random House know how to choose their manuscripts.
The voice is the best. Although some anecdotes are funny in themselves, some are only funny because of the way they’re told. Know someone who can fascinate a crowd talking about their trip to the convenience store? That’s the kind of skill I’m talking about. As a writer, I can only admire that.
Shakespear Shapiro’s inner dialogue and the jokes, and the ideas not always well-thought-out… It rings so true to my experience hanging out with boys (and even men). I guess some of the content could hurt “female delicacy”, but I never had that.
The story isn’t one that will change your life, but it is still rather deep under the humour. Serious subjects are broached. The main theme, though subtle, is strong.
The characters are all endearing (and sometimes annoying) in their own way. They reminded me of people I used to know. I didn’t really identify with any of them, feeling instead like I was there with them.
The only thing that bothered me a little would be the structure. The entire book alternates between the present, where you’re in Shakespeare’s mind, and the past, written down by Shakespeare for his class. While those written pieces are funny and beautifully written, some of them are not absolutely vital to the story and I tend to dislike scenes that just “stall” the story.
Who would I recommend this to? The obvious answer would be teenage boys, especially those who like literature because there are a lot of references to famous writers in there. However, I do believe anyone over 13 could enjoy this book as long as they’re not too easily offended and can tolerate teenage boys’ humour.