what's up boners?
So I picked up The perks of being a wallflower
from the local supermarche the other night( the movie, I mean), and I know the movie came out in September and the book like 13 years ago, so I'm late, but suck it. In case you haven't seen it....go. Go buy it now and watch it.
It's an extremely pared down, sleeker version of the novel. For example it leaves out extraneity (if that's not a word, I'm totally coining it, from the douchebag word for extraneous material) like Charlie smoking and discovering how to jerk the gherkin (immature euphemisms FTW), but otherwise keeps the basic story intact: an extremely isolated, socially backward boy trying to find his way in the vast jungle that is High School.
Here's where it gets weirdly autobiographical for me. High school was not a problem for me (inquire within, however, about college!). I was pretty alone or whatever for the first two years but I had extra curriculars (re: friends whether i wanted them or not) that kept me occupied. Alright, it was marching band, but still. And so on.
The point of Perks
though is not comparative lives, but to see Charlie in his own terms--the greatest trope in fiction is not relatability but comparison: how close, or not, the subject of your attention is or isn't like you, and what that kind of analysis tells you. About you. Even if you're 'reading just to be entertained'--everyone is--it still becomes or can be essentially intellectual. It becomes self-analysis, and mirroring. Not to say that my life, then, was any better or worse off than Charlie's. Differently mirroring something remains mirroring none the less, for in Charlie's life and the lives of his friends we see parts of ourselves--almost as surely as if every Jack Kirby character was part of the King himself or his experiences (Ben Grimm, Orion, Scott Free, even Stan L--er, Funky Flashman).
I think juvenile lit--or a better term for it, the Bildungsroman--has this sense of mirroring built in. Think Catcher in the Rye
, think Speak
, think even All Quiet on the Western Front
. What are these people telling us? How much are these people like us, if at all.
I first read the novelisation of Perks
in 2008 because the boy I was dating at the time was way into it and thought himself Charlie and extolled the virtues of wallflowerism--the apparent joy that comes with luxuriating on the sidelines and observing. I read the book and pared ti down and told Michael I disagreed with him. I threw some AP English BS interpretation at him, much I'm doing now, and half-baed some flawed Objectivism (The Fountainhead was huge in our AP class, so there's that). Anywho.
Still, I think of the book often, and I enjoyed the crap out of the film. Beyond faithfulness to its source (the book's writer also wrote the screenplay and directed), Perks is a very good story. It's self-examinating lit on the Salinger or John Knowles mode: the person at its centre grows and becomes a different person in a world that is stupid and does not make sense. The kind of weird, depressive and flawed-character books we here at Team Lex like reading about
It's worth reading and/or watching. Which is the best possible review for any work. Ever.
Go buy the movie. More importantly, read the book.