Youth in Revolt by C.D. Payne

Mike’s review of Youth in Revolt

If Payne graduated from Harvard in ’71, then he was more than likely over 50 years old when he wrote this and there’s definitely something weird about a 50 year old man writing a teenage sex romp.

Also, “what was it about that weird decade?” in reference to the ’60s (which demonstrates a complete naivety), followed by, “but hell, the strategy worked for Nixon in ’68.”

I totally geek out when something geographically-Oakland-specific happens, e.g. “we got on our bikes and rode down to the bus station in Oakland’s skid row.” Greyhound at 20th and San Pablo. Really pissed me off that the movie was clearly not shot in Oakland; looked more like the midwest.

OK. What’s weird about Payne’s age is that the lust feels so real but the angst doesn’t. “I have nothing to say to that man.” (about his dad) When I was 14 I fucking hated my mother, but I wouldn’t have said that.

“malignant cancer tumors

Valerie’s response to Mike’s review

hahaha point well taken about the author/narrator age discrepancy.

I am too far removed from reading this book to review it, I only remember thinking it would be cool if guys my age at the time (15ish) could write like that…

So now I’m wondering what you think of Lolita, an older man/preteen sextwistup that some consider a classic.

Mike’s response to Valerie’s response

I don’t know the answer to your inquiry. I’ve read Lolita, but don’t remember what I thought. I think I remember having prose problems, but don’t remember content problems. It’s been at least five years since I’ve read it.

Valerie’s response

If you thought Payne was a pervert for what may have been simply nostalgia for teenage lust, Mike, I just don’t understand how Lolita could not also register as creepy! Humbert Humbert is the most despicable criminal, but Nabokov does such a good prose rendering of the mental pathology that it’s readable. Stunning psychological portrait. The fact that English is like his third language makes the incredible writing all the more astounding. Prose was dense, descriptive, poetic and verbose. One of those train wrecks you can’t help but be sucked into, like … ummm … have you read Geek Love?

Mike’s response

I read Geek Love. I remember being unenthused. Let me qualify this. Geek Love was highly, highly recommended to me, gushed about even. I don’t really remember the book, just my meh reaction. I have a stupid desire to be an outcast because it’s what I’m used to. Since Geek Love was so highly touted I may have come into the book wanting to not like it. (I realize how ridiculous it is to not like something of a counterculture [not the right word, but it’s certainly a book meant for the outcasts and freaks of the world] icon because I want to be different/cast out. My brain is dumb.)

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll read Lolita again. I feel like I’m less likely to read Geek Love again. Also, I was a kid at the time of reading Lolita, so sex with kids was less offensive to me. (As a kid, I thought I was in full possession of my faculties and didn’t really understand the complexity of the power dynamic inherent in an adult/underage person relationship. Not that I necessarily fully understand now, but I know more so what I don’t know now. Also, I had a penis.)

Valerie’s response:

Okay, I admit I was one of the people praising Geek Love maybe beyond its due. (Knowing that you don’t respond well to gushing reviews I will be attentive to tempering my enthusiasm which can get downright effervescent at times.)

I read it twice. Very few books do I read twice. My only reasoning is that I wanted to assure myself that the book is real, it exists, people who like this book exist and I am not crazy.

Usually incest and grotesque biological description turn me off, but there was a sweetness to Dunn’s storytelling that defied the horror of her mutant story.

I will definitely read Lolita again someday, I found it breathtaking and horrible and also beautiful. But first I must read Pale Fire and some others of Nabokov’s. And I definitely need to get off my bestseller kick. They just push my buttons so well …



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