Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How I Paid for College by Marc Acito

My sweetie and I are back from New York and it was a fabulous trip (even though Laurie's book did not win). In our hotel (the Chelsea Savoy) during one of our complimentary breakfasts (bagels and cream cheese), I overheard another guest (yelling is very popular in NYC) say she lives in Wallingford. Hunh! I'd only just heard of that town in New Jersey because it's the setting for Marc Acito's coming-of-age comedy, How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theatre.

The title sums up the content pretty well. Edward Zanni has always wanted to be an actor and dreams of attending Juilliard. During his final year of high school, his father tells him that he has no intention of paying for higher education unless Edward studies business. Luckily, Edward is surrounded by a group of creative friends who help him come up with ways to make $10,000 for his first year of tuition. (That was back in 1983 - I wonder how much it costs now?) Anyway, it's a great romp and worked well in audiobook format (Recorded Books: 11 hours) performed by Jeff Woodman. I was pleased that Woodman sang rather than spoke whenever that was called for in the text. His amusing renditions of accents also helped to keep the large cast of characters clear.

Over the course of the story, Edward and his friends explore their sexual feelings for each other and make several outings to a gay bar in Greenwich Village; bisexuality is a major theme. Two of their hare-brained money-making schemes involve incriminating blackmail photos and Edward's friend's enormous penis. Being reasonably certain that Wallingford was not the ideal place to develop the film, Edward takes it to a shop in the Village called Toto Photo. (Which reminds me, I saw Judy Garland's dress from The Wizard of Oz hanging in the window of the Stonewall Inn. I love New York.) It all ends happily... with only one short stint in jail.

Readalikes: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky; My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger; Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.

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