It's Kind of a Funny Story

The new novel by Ned Vizzini
A non-review by J. Stefan-Cole

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I read page one of Ned Vizzini’s, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, and took a downbeat turn at the thought of reading another kid-on-the-ropes novel. I’d just finished Jonathan Safran Foer’s, Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud, which I’d found extremely irritating and loudly unbelievable. That kid got on my nerves, a know it all whose grief over his Dad, lost in the World Trade attack, left me unconvinced. And what’s with all the graphic aids? This comes right out of the Dave Eggers School of Staggering Genius; punching up the words with gimmicks, like words don’t have strength anymore to carry meaning on their own. When I saw the little doodad diagrams at the chapter heads in Vizzini’s teenage novel, I was ready to revolt: I didn’t think I could take another pubescent view on life and death.
I was wrong.
Vizzini’s Craig Gilner is not another Oskar Schell. He’s closer to Holden Caulfield, and the dialogue is kid snappy without being nihilistically dark. Craig spends a full year of his barely begun life cramming to get into an elite Manhattan school, Executive Pre-Professional High. “That first semester, in addition to the book list, I had this class called Intro to Wall Street that required me to pick up the New York Times and Wall Street Journal everyday…to create a portfolio of current events articles and show how they related to stock prices…” Phew, that would send me into a Republican-inspired corporate-ruled panic attack. We don’t quite learn why Craig wants to join ranks with the powerbrokers except for a vague idea of becoming president some day. Yes, of the United States.

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