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King Dork [Kindle Edition]

Frank Portman
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $9.99
Kindle Price: $7.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

As John Green, New York Times bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars said, “King Dork will rock your world.” The cult favorite from Frank Portman, aka Dr. Frank of the Mr. T. Experience, is a book like nothing ever done before--King Dork literally has something for everyone: At least a half-dozen mysteries, love, mistaken identity, girls, monks, books, blood, bubblegum, and rock and roll. This book is based on music--a passion most kids have--and it has original (hilarious) songs and song lyrics throughout.
   When Tom Henderson finds his deceased father’s copy of J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, his world is turned upside down. Suddenly high school gets more complicated: Tom (aka King Dork) is in the middle of at least half a dozen mysteries involving dead people, naked people, fake people, a secret code, girls, and rock and roll. As he goes through sophomore year, he finds clues that may very well solve the puzzle of his father’s death and—oddly—reveal the secret to attracting semi-hot girls (the secret might be being in a band, if he can find a drummer who can count to four.
   A brilliant story told in first person, King Dork includes a glossary and a bandography, which readers will find helpful and hilarious.

Praise for King Dork:

“Basically, if you are a human being with even a vague grasp of the English language, King Dork, will rock your world.”—John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars
“[No account of high school] has made me laugh more than King Dork. . . . Grade A.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Impossibly brilliant.”—Time

“Provides a window into what it would be like if Holden Caulfield read The Catcher in the Rye.”—New York Post

[STAR] “Original, heartfelt, and sparkling with wit and intelligence. This novel will linger long in readers’ memories.”—School Library Journal, Starred
[STAR] “A biting and witty high-school satire.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred
[STAR] “Tom’s narration is piercingly satirical and acidly witty.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Starred
“Loaded with sharp and offbeat humor.”—USA Today
“King Dork is smart, funny, occasionally raunchy and refreshingly clear about what it’s like to be in high school.”—San Francisco Chronicle
King Dork: Best Punk Rock Book Ever.”—The Village Voice
“I love this book as much as I hated high school, and that’s some of the highest praise I can possibly give.”—

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews Review

In Frank Portman's dazzling debut novel, frustrated song-writer and high school student Tom Henderson finds his dead father's copy of The Catcher in the Rye, and his life changes forever. Part social satire, part mystery, with a healthy dose of rock music (and angst), King Dork is one of our must-read favorites of the year.
Bonus Content from Frank Portman

Frank Portman (aka Dr. Frank) is not just an author, he's also a musician. We were lucky enough to get a few tracks and a few words from the man behind King Dork, his band The Mr. T. Experience, and the relationship between his book and his music.

"King Dork"
This is the "title track" for my new book. No matter how many times I say that (and I've now said it at least twice by my count) it still sounds strange...Anyhow, I wrote this song for my band, the Mr. T Experience, back in the mid-nineties (you can hear the electrified rock and roll version on the MTX album The Mr. T Experience... and the Women Who Love Them). While I was gingerly, sheepishly exploring the idea of trying to write a book, and not really knowing where to begin, Krista Marino (who was to become my editor at Delacorte) suggested that I try to turn a song into a novel as a way of getting started. I can't remember why I settled on "King Dork" as the song to "novelize," but I started thinking about the narrator/character of this song and after quite a bit of staring at a blank Word document and banging my head against the bar I eventually started typing. I didn't tell anyone at the time, but for months the file entitled "King Dork_(novel)_ms" had only the words "there's no way I can write a whole book, absolutely no way, who am I kidding?" on it. The fact that this did turn into a sort of novel in the end continues to mystify me. So this is an acoustic recording of the song that started it all, in effect. "I'm King Dork and I want you to be my Queen..."

  • Listen to "King Dork"

    "Thinking of Suicide"
    The narrator of King Dork, Tom Henderson, has a band and is trying to figure out how to play his guitar and how to write songs. He writes several songs through the course of the book, and I thought it might be fun actually to come up with the songs rather than just alluding to them in the text. The songs were written by me "as Tom Henderson," know what I mean? "Thinking of Suicide" is one of the first complete songs Tom writes. The title comes from an informational pamphlet for troubled teens handed out by the school. He likes the drawing of the girl on the cover. "This would make a pretty good song," he thinks: "all I had to do was give the girl a name and feel sorry for myself while pretending to be her. And figure out some lyrics and chords and stuff." This song, which incidentally ends up echoing through and complicating his family life, his social life, and his psychological life, is the result.

  • Listen to "Thinking of Suicide"

    "I Wanna Ramone You"
    This one is a little hard to "set up," but I'll give it a shot. There are three strands all tangled up in this song. Strand A: Tom is doing research on the life and times of his mysteriously deceased father, and part of that involves poring over ancient texts like the Bible and The Catcher in the Rye. It's a long story, but in the course of this research he inadvertently learns that the French verb ramoner (which literally means "to scrub out a chimney") can be used as a sexual metaphor. As a rock and roller, he of course immediately thinks of the Ramones, and, voilà, a new English euphemism for sex is born - I ramone, you ramone, he, she or it ramones... (This is useful to him, as it gives him a much cooler metaphor for sex than any of the other ones available; and it proved useful to the author, i.e., me, as well, for pretty much the same reason.) Strand B: Tom is taking Advanced French, which he describes as "a form of the French language in which only the present tense is used. Primarily employed for telling time and for describing the activities of this one guy named Jean and this other guy named Claude." So in writing his song about the timeless power of love, he decides to include some sophisticated, romantic French phrases in the lyrics. Strand C: He has this pretty big crush on a girl from a neighboring town, so he writes a song about her. (As one does in those situations.) "I Wanna Ramone You" is the result, one of his first full-on love songs.

  • Listen to "I Wanna Ramone You"

  • From School Library Journal

    Grade 10 Up–Tom Henderson (aka King Dork, Chi-mo, Hender-fag, and Sheepie) is a 14-year-old geek who finds solace in music (with his only friend, Tom Hellerman) and in inventing goofy band names (Tennis with Guitars, for one). He loathes The Catcher in the Rye (a revered book at his school) and everything that it stands for. But when he finds his late father's copy of J.D. Salinger's classic, he begins a journey to discover who his father really was. First time author Frank Portman's novel (Delacorte, 2006) is part mystery, part coming-of-age tale, and part running critique on teenage popular culture. Sexual references, vulgar language, and instances of drug use are prevalent, making this a problematic choice for some schools. Narrator Lincoln Hoppe expertly conveys Tom's slyness and shyness. This zany, heartfelt novel is written with panache and will appeal to the teen outsider and musician in every young adult. Portman also provides five original songs and an interview on the recording.–Larry Cooperman, Seminole High School, Sanford, FL
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    Product Details

    • File Size: 1314 KB
    • Print Length: 354 pages
    • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (February 12, 2008)
    • Sold by: Random House LLC
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B000W93DUS
    • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
    • X-Ray:
    • Lending: Not Enabled
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,950 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, excellent voice-- I fell in love with it. September 27, 2007
    By grrlpup
    The boy narrating this story has a perfect teenage voice-- funny, a little too smart and self-conscious about it, alternately defensive and searching. I was in love with it after the first page: I handed the book to someone else with instructions to read the first page. She loved it too. I had a hard time getting the book back.

    The voice keeps its magic all the way through. I liked the device of using a class assignment of one of those "30 days to a better vocabulary" books to justify the narrator's use of words most teenagers wouldn't use.

    The events in the book were nicely balanced between realism and farce. Some plot points were a little larger than life, but nothing too over the top.

    Four stars instead of five? Near the end, the book veered off track on the murder-mystery subplot and lost steam. It recovered a little before the very end, but not fully. This was the last ten pages or so: suddenly I just wasn't interested in picking the book up and finishing it.

    I feel this book is aimed at people my age (late 30s) more than at teenagers. There's something fishy when I know more than half the bands mentioned in the book. Boomer-resentment and Catcher In The Rye backlash are also Gen X phenomenon, I suspect. It didn't bother me, but I can understand why other reviewers called the book dated.

    Beautiful writing, funny, and well worth the read.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Tennis with guitars! May 8, 2006
    Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
    This is a weird & delightful & incredibly funny novel. If you hated high school -- or just realized it was a rotten trial designed to crush your expectations for adulthood -- you may well love this book. If you thought high school was awesome, it's doubtful you're shopping for books on Amazon.

    Portman's voice is remarkable and sly. The characters & dialogue are so good throughout the book that the end was kind of disappointing, if only because it ended too much like a normal book with some sort of crisis/climax like novels seem to always have these days. Or maybe I was just reluctant to finish the book at all. And I didn't care for a few clumsy claims that the narrative takes place in our current era and not the early 1980s; it would be a good idea for the publishers to remove those two or three "modern day" references from the paperback edition, which should be in many backpacks when schools starts in Fall. Trivial complaints ...

    "King Dork" is funnier, more honest and better written than just about anything I've read in years. Frank Portman finds that Salinger guy, grinds his head in the gravel & makes the disillusioned clever kid once again safe for literature. Plus, the band names are fantastic, and there's a whole history of rock revealed in the pages.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    29 of 40 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars life is so unfair May 3, 2006
    Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
    If this author was Harvard bound, younger and more photogenic, perhaps he'd have a shot at the half million advance awarded to Kaavya "The Internalizer" Viswanathan whose plagiarism scandal recently rocked the literary world. He'd certainly deserve it, as there is no evidence that he himself didn't compose "King Dork" which is one of the best novels about the high school experience that I've read in a long time.

    This book is a far more accurate, painful and hilarious look at the world of adolescence. If you identify with books in which which Nerd Girl gets a brand name makeover, sleeps with Campus Stud, winds up with Brooding Artist, makes a speech about values and gets into the Ivy League, then you probably won't enjoy "King Dork." If on the other hand, you are still mourning the cancellation of "Freaks and Geeks," then you probably will.

    "King Dork" had me laughing and nodding my head in recognition from the first page to the last, whereas with the makeover type books I just snicker and wonder what universe the authors are living in to create a high school world that's 100 percent fantasy and fluff. What a shame that a book like "King Dork" that actually tells it like it isn't given half the (pre scandal) press of a book like "How Opal Mehta." For such a threadbare concept - young alienated man comes of age with the help of books, music and the opposite sex, it's still fresh and original.
    Comment | 
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    18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars Extremely disappointing January 19, 2010
    After reading so many great reviews, I was also sucked into reading this novel. It has a lot of promise but it just didn't deliver. As was stated by so many reviewers, the references are very dated, and most teens will be bewildered and possibly bored. The repetition is aggravating as well, and the humor is occasionally off the mark. My biggest concern is about the attitude towards teenage girls, who are looked at as existing mainly to provide sexual favors to the protagonist with no reciprocation and practically no prompting. Not only is this demeaning to females, but for any teenage boys reading this, it adds to the already pervasive attitude that girls are only there for the boys' pleasure. As a children's and young adult librarian, I will steer any kids clear of this book, and instead recommend titles which treat both girls and boys with more respect. Incidentally, I have no problem with sex in YA literature and it definitely has a place, but it all comes down to how it is handled. This was pretty offensive.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Fallen off the Edge of the Field
    I came into this book expecting a change from the common story of a bullied dork, misunderstood by society. Read more
    Published 2 months ago by Rocco Octavius
    3.0 out of 5 stars Wanted to love it
    It was the style of storytelling that lost me. The story is told in a disjointed style that is at times confusing and at others simply maddening. Read more
    Published 6 months ago by mjelose
    1.0 out of 5 stars Shallow and obnoxious (mild spoilers, as if it matters)
    I was assigned King Dork in my Music in Children's Lit course, and had it not been required, I never would have finished it. Needless to say, I didn't like the book very much. Read more
    Published 9 months ago by Jacob Benn
    4.0 out of 5 stars Book was for a teen....
    Nice book and came as staighted... Teens reading assignment for school and the price was right, other stores wanted more for the book....
    Published 11 months ago by Joaquin A. Butkus
    5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of fun to read
    I enjoyed the book. Fast-paced and full of twisted humor. A no-holds-barred description of life in high school with a mystery thrown in. Read more
    Published 16 months ago by Jim
    1.0 out of 5 stars Boring.
    Kept waiting for it to get better. Never happened. Waste of my time.
    The writer was striving for humor and some empathy, but never made the mark. Read more
    Published 16 months ago by Louise Rogers-Feher
    5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST-READ at any age. For anyone. Seriously, read this book.
    I am in my 30s and could be categorized as a literary nerd in that I adore the classics and slog through the Russians by my own volition. On occasion, I desire a dessert read. Read more
    Published 18 months ago by Robert Richardson
    5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this
    In a word: hilarious. Really, open the first page and revel on some brilliant writing from the first page to the last. Several times I laughed out loud while reading this book. Read more
    Published 19 months ago by S. S. PADUA
    4.0 out of 5 stars Book for class.
    Bought this book for a class I'm taking. Love Catcher in the Rye so I'm excited to read this book.
    Published 21 months ago by Lindsey Nichols.
    3.0 out of 5 stars okay
    I'm stunned by the glowing reviews this book got. I found it an easy read and definitely laughed out loud a couple of times, but overall, it came across as shallow, repetitive, and... Read more
    Published on September 25, 2012 by liquid_glass
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    More About the Author

    I am also known as Dr. Frank, and I write books and songs.

    I've put out a couple of solo records, and my band The Mr. T Experience (MTX) has released around a dozen albums or so over the years.

    They can be found here:

    and also here: (the two on the right at that last link -- the chubby German guy, that's not me.)

    (Apologies for the ugly formatting: for some reason Amazon doesn't allow html links to its own content in these things.)

    King Dork is my first novel. Andromeda Klein is my second. The forthcoming King Dork Approximately will be my third.

    Behold, my web presence: (blog)

    My interests include tomatoes, swords, guitars, calculators, movies, TV, and things made of vinyl, wood, and metal.

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