Jake Wizner’s debut novel Spanking Shakespeare is the literary equivalent of a Woody Allen movie directed by Judd Apatow: five times as self-centered, sex-obsessed, and painfully neurotic as it is genuinely funny.
Wizner’s hero is Shakespeare Shapiro, a teenage boy burdened with the name from Hell. Shakespeare has always hovered on the lower end of the social ladder, but when his bawdy (and implausibly articulate) entries for his school’s required memoir-writing class are read aloud, he starts to win his classmates’ attention. Before long, Shakespeare has achieved at least borderline coolness, and it seems like his greatest dream (sex with a hot girl—any hot girl; he has a list of both his dream girls and his “safeties”) might actually be realized.
If Shakespeare had ended up with a girl who was even half as hideously self-obsessed as he was (say, the heroine from Susan Juby’s Alice, I Think books), I would have forgiven this novel everything—but, naturally, he ends up with a sweet girl with a martyr complex a mile wide. I am so tired of this story. When are they going to write a book or make a movie about a nerdy, sarcastic, egotistical, schlubby girl who ends up with the boy of her dreams*? I’m not talking about a Meg Cabot-style story featuring a geeky heroine who doesn’t recognize her own unique charms or the impossibly sunny Nikki Blonsky winning Zac Efron in Hairspray. I’m talking about the feminine equivalent of Superbad... or Mr. Wizner’s book.
I know, I know: it’ll never happen. For one thing, how would they even find enough chubby/nerdy girls in Hollywood to fill the cast? And for another, the film industry is too busy making a movie version of Spanking Shakespeare, which (shocker!) was optioned for film nearly as soon as it came out.
*Without a Cinderella-style makeover.