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Mister Posterior and the Genius Child Paperback – December 3, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade; 1st Berkley trade pbk. ed edition (December 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 042518627X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425186275
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #522,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This funny, touching first novel captures the domestic anarchy of the 1970s through the eyes of brainy eight-year-old Vanessa Brick, a student at an alternative Cambridge, Mass., elementary school. Vanessa's well-meaning but frazzled mother, Debbie, is divorced and raising Vanessa with the help of divorced neighbor Katty, who decides she's a lesbian, and boy-crazy teenage babysitter Landis. The free-loving, ashram-going grownups in this book insist on treating their children like adults, though no one seems to have a very clear idea what adulthood means anymore. Vanessa's best friend, Anu Bhaduri, is her true support, but Anu becomes traumatized and withdrawn after she's mooned by a flasher terrorizing the neighborhood, leaving Vanessa to muddle through playground politics on her own. Vanessa is chosen to write a play incorporating classroom spelling words (which include "syphilis" and "gestate"), but when she names all her characters with euphemisms for buttocks and uses the word "receptacle" to discuss the proper function of the anus ("You put things in a Receptacle... but things come out of your bottom.... It is not a good idea to put anything in"), she sparks a schoolwide controversy over just what kind of limits and examples adults should be setting for children. With dead-on dialogue, Jenkins deftly satirizes the narcissism of the 1970s while maintaining compassion for those caught in the maelstrom-especially the likably vulnerable Debbie and the winning Vanessa. A charming debut that will have readers of Vanessa's generation chuckling with recognition.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Emily Jenkins is the author of Tongue First: Adventures in Physical Culture. She has a doctorate in English from Columbia University. This is her first novel.

More About the Author

I write stories for children and adults. Picture books, middle-grade books, and novels. And a long time ago, personal essays.

I can be reached online at www.emilyjenkins.com.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bruce J. Wasser on December 4, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is no easy feat the describe and define the onset of self-awareness in a child's life; the task is more difficult when the child's consciousness forms itself in the heady, self-aborbed early 1970s. Emily Jenkins' winning debut novel, "Mister Posterior and the Genuis Child" creates a memorable eight-year-old protagonist in Vanessa, who most endure growing up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a home where her single mother,Debbie, tries to navigate the currents of consciousness-raising, alternative education and sexual satisfaction. Vanessa's voice rings true; her complex personality invites empathy and her myriad school and home experiences delight, horrify and illuminate. "Posterior" features an impressive, fast-paced narrative which enhances Jenkins' sharply-etched characters and invests their foibles with sympathy instead of disdain.
Vanessa is a sensitive, precocious child who is acutely aware of her marginal status at a progressive, counter-culture, purportedly child-centered school. Chafing at her suddenly obvious differences, Vanessa alternates between rejecting her distinctiveness and embracing it. Upon discovering her status as a scholarship student -- a poor kid from a poor, single-parent family -- and ingesting a classmate's comments on her being different, Vanessa remarks that "it felt like confirmation of something I had known all along."
Her mother, whom Vanessa resolutely calls Debbie, struggles with her own baggage. "The only child of two blisteringly spotless people," Debbie rebels through diet and her own steadfast belief in her daughter's right to be. Debbie repudiates her parents' "veneer of shiny white happiness" as she flails away at her solitary life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
The world keeps turning through the eyes of this 8 year old whose vision is both quirky and intensely aware. The humor catches us by surprise, the moments of truth are sometimes painful, and there's an undercurrent of willingness to live life fully that buoys up all of it. Emily Jenkins has brought to life characters who are oddly familiar yet have plenty to teach us, naming them with Dickensian accuracy and bouncing them off each other in ways that remind us sometimes of a circus and sometimes of a ballet. Her refined ability to capture the moments that matter and weave them into a story with meaning mark a first novel that will keep you reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By puce on January 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
I was lucky enough to take a class taught by Emily Jenkins, while at college. Back then, I thought she was a great teacher and talented writer and now a few years later, I see that I was absolutely not mistaken. This book was funny, clever, so creative and poignant, I can't imagine anyone not finding it completely engrossing and worth finishing in a day and a half(as I did.) I am definitely very much looking forward to Emily's next novel!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ayun Halliday on March 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
I howled through the 8-year-old narrator's first play, a misguided but enthusiastic attempt to incorporate spelling words creatively, though I must say, I have always spelled heinie with an ie, myself.
What a sharply observed comedy - hits 3rd grade playground politics on the head with a resounding bang!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul Silbert on December 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
I was immediately charmed by the voice of our heroine, and I really couldn't put the book down once I started. Except for the fact that as I got closer to the end, I didn't really want it to end.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. It can take any reader back to their childhood to remember the little things that you so often forget. The story was original and easy to read. It was a real page turner!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is a really fun, quick read. It's funny, well-written, and easy to relate too. I highly recommend it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amy Hawthorne on February 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
All, i saw this author read in NY and every passage was so funny and piognant! It's unusual to find writing that is this naturally funny and doesn't seem to force the humor on the reader. There is real subtlety and wit on every page of this book. I bought it immediately after the reading and have been laughing ever since.
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