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Bri Meets Books

Children's and YA literature reviews.

(Be forewarned, there are spoilers in this review)

Like his namesake, Shakespeare Shapiro is a writer. His notebooks, however, are more full of the sordid, hilarious, and sometimes downright unpleasant details of his life, rather than the trials of star-crossed lovers. Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizner features the titular character’s memoirs, an obligatory assignment for all seniors at his high school.

Shakespeare holds nothing back in his memoirs as he lays bare his thoughts about life, life, sex, pornography, etc – all things that are denizens of any young man’s brain. I found Spanking Shakspeare a quick and funny read, but there were times when it was just too extreme for me. An overwhelming number of teen novels (and movies) embrace the quirky character. Along with the requisite edgy friends Katie (with a passion for swearing and drinking) and Neil (who keeps a record of his bowel movements), we have Shakespeare’s parents – their quirkyness defined by the names they bestow upon sons Ghandi and Shakespeare.

However, it’s the humor of Spanking Shakespeare that redeems the novel from an overload of quirk – from the seemingly innocous posters Shakespeare and his friends put up in the halls, with Fear Factoresuque scenarios hidden within them: (“Would you rather watch a kitten be dissected or your parents having sex?” in a poster advertising Science Club meetings). From Shakespeare’s epic poem detailing the hidden lives of the greatest writers, to his account of a Lord of the Flies camp where an aptly named “coma game” reigns supreme among the impressionable campers, and finally to a trip to a sex film with his grandmother, all the ncidents within are told with a sharp wit and clever tongue. There were parts I could not stop laughing, honestly, over lunch at work.

Purchased recently by Paramount, Spanking Shakespeare should eventually make it to the big screen, and rightly so. Here, in between the ribald humor of a teen dealing with the complexities of life during high school, lies the search of a young man carving out an identity the best way he knows how. And it makes for a really funny story.

Title: Spanking Shakespeare
Date: October 2008 (reprint)
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback

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