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Castration Celebration Paperback – May 25, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Castration Celebration is a zany romantic romp through a summer theater program at Yale, and the follow-up to Jake Wizner's critically acclaimed debut Spanking Shakespeare. Max, an actor who likes women, has a crush on Olivia, a playwright who hates men. Olivia enjoys Max's attention, but she tells him in no uncertain terms that she came to camp to focus on her work. Olivia channels her romantic energy into writing "Castration Celebration," a musical with two teenagers, Amber and Dick, who fall in love after playing Benedick and Beatrice from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Much of the trouble in Olivia's musical is instigated by Dick's macho buddies, Biff and Sluggo, who get the best songs (such as "I Saw My Parents Having Sex" and "Horny"). Olivia has been obsessed with the seemingly inevitable infidelity of men ever since she walked in on her dad cheating with one of his grad students, and she works out her frustrations through her writing. But when Olivia tries to orchestrate a romantic situation in her own life as though it were a play, she learns the limits of her talents. Wizner cleverly embeds the scenes—and songs—of "Castration Celebration" (Olivia's musical) within the chapters, showing Olivia's development as a character as she's writing. Castration Celebration (the book) doesn't necessarily include any poignant epiphanies, and that's one of its strengths: for the most part, Wizner allows it to be a comedy and remain a comedy. It is a funny, realistic portrait of early adulthood relationships, one that doesn't steer away from topics that teens deal with every day—gender power struggles, sexual tension, and alcohol and drug use. Best for older teens who can relate to adult themes. (Ages 14 and up) -–Heidi Broadhead


Jake Wizner on Castration Celebration

I wanted to write a musical, which is a little bit odd because I have only seen two or three musicals in my life and did not particularly enjoy them. But I’ve always loved writing irreverent songs, and I figured that I could write the kind of musical that people who don’t like musicals could also enjoy. I started with the lyrics, and then I built a script around the songs, and what emerged was something outrageous, over-the-top, and really, really funny, at least to me.

I had also been playing around for a long time with the idea of setting a young adult novel on a college campus, because I had spent the first ten years of my life living in a dormitory at Yale. I remembered clearly what kinds of adventures a young boy could have, and I imagined it could be even more fun for kids a little bit older. So that’s kind of how the book came together. Take a group of teenagers, plop them down on a college campus for a summer program where they can be working on a musical, and see what happens.

There’s a scene early in the book where Olivia’s playwriting teacher challenges her students to write not what they know, but what they want to find out. That’s sort of what writing this book was like for me. Whereas Spanking Shakespeare was rooted largely in my own experiences as a teenager, Castration Celebration was really a work of pure fiction. Now I’m at work on a third novel for young adults, a humorous coming of age story of a neurotic, love-starved high school senior who finds himself becoming entangled in the life of a young boy and the immigration politics of post 9-11 America. —Jake Wizner

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Less creative and more crude than Wizner’s Spanking Shakespeare (2007), this envelope-pusher follows a raunchy group of teens through a summer at a Yale arts camp. Disappointed by the males in her life and fascinated by the concept of castration, Olivia creates the book’s titular musical as her project, drawing inspiration from her fellow campers’ over-the-top discussions and exploits. Most chapters end with a scene from Olivia’s work-in-progress, including the often quite clever (and graphic) lyrics to songs, such as “Horny” and “I’m in Love with Dick.” References to sex in all its forms and the lack of restraint on foul language will certainly shock some readers (particularly adults). Wizner skewers everything from classic children’s books (Pat the Bunny is reinterpreted from a very Freudian perspective) to High School Musical (clearly satirized on the book’s cover), and many older teens will appreciate the wild humor and the no-holds-barred look at what undoubtedly does happen at some summer camps. Grades 11-12. --Andrew Medlar --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375852166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375852169
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,523,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Woodard on July 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Olivia is going to Yale University for an art summer camp. After walking in on her dad with of his grad student, Olivia did her research and she has decided to write a musical called Castration Celebration. Olivia is influenced by her new friends, especially Max.
Max is a ladies man and wants to be together with Olivia. Max is totally not Olivia's type. Olivia and Max might just have something, but will Olivia let her emotions through? Will the play and real life end the same way?
I love Castration Celebration. I read it in about three hours. It was so funny and I could not stop laughing. This book didn't tip toe around sex. It jumped in to sex and it wasn't vulgar or trashy. It was the truth and I really respected Wizner for doing that. I also really like Olivia, I related to her at times and her development as a character was good. I really liked how the plot went between the main narrative and the script for the play. The play was hilarious and I loved the songs and dialogue in it. The writing was also good and I really like this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rachael Stein VINE VOICE on July 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Olivia is seriously pissed at guys, and with good reason. She recently walked in on her dad fooling around with one of his grad students, but at least now she has a great topic for the musical she's writing at summer arts camp at Yale, a musical she's titled Castration Celebration. But Olivia's not prepared for when scenes from her play start to star her and a certain cute but cocky actor Max in real life. Even if Olivia is the least bit interested, she's not willing to trust Max since the only thing you can trust about a guy is that he'll be a guy--always looking for sex. While Olivia's not too sure of her feelings for Max, she does know she has to hang out with him once in a while for the raw material he provides for her musical; besides, he's just interesting. As the days heat up, so does this battle of the sexes. It's going to be one unforgettable summer for these teens.

Castration Celebration is a laugh-out-loud hilarious story somewhat reminiscent of Disney's High School Musical. The major difference between the two is that Castration Celebration is aimed at an older, more mature audience. The best thing about this novel is its somewhat raunchy and dirty humor; it's almost scary how the characters can find a sexual connotation in nearly everything. The plot of the novel is a seriously twisted romance made more interesting by being interspaced with scenes from Olivia's comedy and her original and very funny songs. The characters, I felt, could definitely have been working on. This novel is told from the third person perspective and offers insufficient insight into each character's mind. This made even the main characters less believable at times.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Matt Lohkamp on May 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The forumla itself is simple - boy meets girl, both overcome obstacles in order to be with each other, and get to enjoy their happy ending, after learning a few life-lessons.

Simple in concept, enjoyably complex in execution - the story of Max's pursuit of Olivia is reflected over the course of the book in Olivia's own literary work-in-progress, the eponymous 'Castration Celebration' play, where the two main characters Dick and Jane echo their real-life counterparts. An additional echo is expressed in liberal doses of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing (Folger Shakespeare Library)," as Benedick and Beatrice's verbose flirtation refers right back up to the drama of the male and female protagonists both in Olivia's play and Olivia's life. There are layers to this story.

Jake Wizner manages to portray characters which are just stereotypical enough to be believable, without becoming boring or static. Although the situations aren't necessarily typical, they're easily recognizable and almost feel comfortable, easily digestible, and never tiresome. Although I've only read this book and Spanking Shakespeare, Shapiro's other recent work of fiction, it's easy to see that he's got real talent for setting the stage and developing his characters.

Also, there are a few details that feel almost like cameo appearances - the main character is named Max, a name which the author reportedly nearly ended up being given at birth. Also, this book, like his previous one, features a character named Shakespeare.

Finally, MAJOR SPOILER: no one gets castrated in this novel, despite the fact that in Imperial China, eunuchs had their testicles, penis, and scrotum removed, then preserved in alcohol.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on May 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Olivia has had it with men!

After walking in on her dad fooling around with a grad student, Olivia decides that she must write a musical to express her outrage at the situation. Yale University's summer arts camp is the perfect place to craft her masterpiece. Olivia's musical is aptly titled Castration Celebration.

She tries to sequester herself in her dorm suite and finish the daunting task put before her, but Olivia's suite mates aren't going to let her hide out for long. Neither will the handsome Max, a fledgling actor who almost killed Olivia on the first day of camp.

Max is bound and determined to win Olivia's heart - come hell, high water, or castration!

Wizner has written an outrageously funny novel that focuses on the battle of the sexes. High school kids will appreciate how candid the author is with his use of language. Some may feel that it is a bit explicit, but I think that all who read this novel will find the humor in it.

This book would be best enjoyed lounging by the pool with a frosty beverage in hand. A perfect summer read!

Reviewed by: LadyJay
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