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How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater (Teen's Top 10 (Awards)) Hardcover – September 7, 2004
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Columnist and first-time novelist Marc Acito has been called the "gay Dave Barry." But don't expect to find riffs on bad traffic, pirate-speak, and all-writer rock bands in Acito's debut, How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater. As stated in the title, this book finds humor and adventure mainly in those topics that would most appeal to a stereotypically gay audience: musicals, piano bars, and sex, sex, sex.
Did I mention the sex? By the end of the book, the teenage characters are so liberated that they'd probably find an evening at Studio 54 slightly mundane. All kinds of interesting scenarios arise when Ed Zanni, a bisexual high-school drama club star from suburban New Jersey, is denied tuition to Julliard by his well-to-do father and wicked step mother. Fortunately his close friends, Paula (ample of body, unlucky in love), Kelly (Ed's cheerleader girlfriend), Doug (his football player love interest), Natie (a nerd with a gift for white-collar crime) and Ziba, (a regal, Middle Eastern beauty), are very willing to engage in fraud, forgery, and blackmail to help him pay for drama school. Ah, high school.
Despite the naughty bits, How I Paid for College is actually rather sweet. Set in high school as it is, Acito's book is somewhat reminiscent of young adult fiction. Yes, there's a lot more homoerotica than the Sweet Valley High series could have prepared readers for, but still it reminds one of those early days--full of tragedy and disappointment--and yet safely nestled in a time of life before real tragedy and disappointment usually set in. It's easy to forget this is a book for adults... until the three-ways commence. And a fast-moving, light-hearted story with three-ways? Well, entertainment-wise, readers could do a lot worse. --Leah Weathersby
From Publishers Weekly
Portland humor columnist Acito debuts with dazzling comic panache in this story of a teenage would-be swindler and budding drama queen. Edward Zanni is dying to escape boring Wallingford, N.J., for the hallowed halls of Juilliard, and he's got a pretty good chance at it. It's summer, and he's palling around with his fellow Play People, who include his gorgeous girlfriend, Kelly, and his hot jock pal, Doug, and dreaming of stardom. The fly in the ointment is Zanni's money-obsessed father, Al, who pulls the financial plug on Edward's Juilliard dream after marrying a trophy babe, a beautiful, icy Teutonic model named Dagmar. Edward counters dad's penny-pinching by moving in with Kelly's family to establish financial independence for a scholarship, but bombs at several minimum-wage jobs. How will he pay for college now that his audition—really a public mental breakdown—got him in? His devious buddy, Nathan, concocts a plan to steal from gold-digging Dagmar, who's been siphoning Al's cash into a secret account. Edward and pals set up a fake nonprofit designed to award a Juilliard scholarship to someone born in Hoboken (Edward)—but there's a problem. Acito nails his scenes one after another, from Edward's shifting (but always enthusiastic) sexuality to the silly messes he gets himself into. The result is a thumbs-up winner from a storyteller whose future looks as bright as that of his young hero.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Top Customer Reviews
The most gratifying quality of `How I Paid for College' isn't, however, the book's comedy but its great sense of the general goodness of mankind. Marc Acito loves and respects his characters very much, even when they are in trouble, and the reader finishes the book with the sense of high good humor usually reserved for the best kind of `feel good' movie. In fact, in order to accurately describe the book to friends, and you will find yourself talking about it with your friends, it's easiest to rely on theatrical or cinematic vocabulary. Part of the reason is the racing, hilarious quality of the story, but mostly it's because the story has a `here and now' quality to them. For example, the scene (see?) of the school's opening night of Godspell perfectly conveys the quiet, awesome roar you feel yourself part of when something really extraordinary is happening on stage or on the screen. Being able to make the reader a part of that is a gift. How I Paid For College is a superb coming-of-age story and it would make a great movie, but it's perfectly fine to read it for the belly laughs, too. In fact, I hope you do buy this madcap book. You're going to love it, and you're going to be glad you did.
No matter what your age, you will instantly relate to the story of an adolescent's struggle for his own identity in a world that sometimes outwardly and unashamedly conspires to keep him from reaching his dreams. Mark Acito writes with a passion, and I read How I Paid for College in the same spirit.
If you have been in search of a dynamic novel that will stay with you for years to come, and would like to read something so hilarious and touching that you will find yourself constantly quoting to friends as you read -- you absolutely must read Mark Acito's book.
How I Paid for College is a well written, comical, coming of age story. Every adult in the world can read this book and say " Been there, done that!" At some points however, I felt it was moving too fast and I couldn't keep up with all the connections and reference points. Maybe that's just because I'm getting old!! Too much time has passed since I was a teenager.
Overall, I enjoyed it and my friends have tickets to Holidaze for next week!!
Linda C. Wright
Author, One Clown Short
One Clown Short