This is a sneakily brilliant overview on how to write effective essays, disguised as a compelling first-person account of ne'er-do-well Charles Remington Dremmel* as he makes a good living off of a high school paper-writing industry (i.e., a bad
living), while also seeking desperately to win a NerfWar, and definitely not seeking to get the attention of Lisa Kent, and reading a bunch of great books.
Not usually my thing. My son grabbed this at the bookstore today. I'd forgotten it was out.; we know Andy**, and Max recognized the name on the cover. So we grabbed it, 'cause that's what you do. You buy your friends' books. But then the other thing you do is step around them, stick 'em on the shelf with best intentions and great trepidation. ....'Cause, you know--what if it sucks? Or even what if it's perfectly fine, quite pleasant, with prose better than a poke in the eye? You still bite your nails, anxious not to say anything that could sour the next conversation, or stick in the writer's craw. (Hell, even if you loved it, you worry: will a rave come off as insincere? A puffjob for a pal?).
So I'm a wuss about ever reading these books by friends that I always buy.
And then there's the YAness. I will dabble in books aimed at middle-grade readers, sometimes "professionally" (as a teacher, interested in what's revving up the audience), sometimes alongside the middle-grade reader in the house. But, heck, a quirky book about a plagiarist? Nah.
But tonight, stricken by insomnia, not sure what the next book should be, I thought I'd read a few pages before crashing. An hour later, I'd whipped through it. And enjoyed the heck out of it.
Not least because it's so clear and casually brilliant at strategies for smart (and mediocre, and barely passable) essays. As a writing teacher, I'm a bit dazed by how Andy cuts through the misty fog of find-your-muse Elbovian romanticism, ignores the jargony Rhetoric of academese, and captures something about the *fun* of figuring out a good argument. Hueller's got the chutzpah to write as fine a writing guide as any middle-to-high-school class might need, and to make it an entertaining pleasure they'll want
So, yeah. Holy cow.
*Not his real name
**We also know Andy's brother. He's a real jerk.