Friday, September 28, 2007

I love you, beth cooper

(I actually read this is August, but never finished writing my review until today...)

I Love You, Beth Cooper By Larry Doyle

During his commencement speech, Denis Cooverman speaks of regrets, and illustrates his point by announcing, “I love you, Beth Cooper.” Five short words will change Denis’s life, most notably because Beth’s army boyfriend, Kevin, is home on leave and hears the proclamation. Kevin spends the story trying to beat Denis to death in increasingly bizarre scenarios that are oddly believable.
Skip ahead to later in the evening. A rich senior is throwing a huge party while her parents are out of town. Two unpopular boys, Denis and Rich, are sitting at home at the kitchen table, not eating the several bowls of snack food arrayed before them. Denis has his iPod loaded with every classic (and some more obscure) graduation song, The doorbell rings and the adventure begins.

“All my memories of high school are from tonight.” -- Denis Cooverman

The characters in high school movies, the stereotypes, the unlikely plots, the heartbreak, the humor – all of this is celebrated in Doyle’s novel. His main character, Denis Cooverman, and his best friend Rich are freakishly awkward and completely realistic seventeen year old guys. Rich compulsively spouts movies lines (complete with title, year and director citations after each) and Denis has a brain so jam-packed with facts that they tend to spill out of his mouth at inappropriate moments.

Larry Doyle might have wanted to create the ultimate high school movie for a generation, but he’s not a filmmaker. The jacket photo puts him in the Buffalo Grove High School class of 1976 so I’m guessing he’s a Gen-X forty-something. Since he is a writer, he gives us a wild ride through Denis Cooverman’s graduation night in the form of a first novel. Rather than rehashing tired plots from old teen movies, Doyle instead makes just enough mentions and references that I found myself wanted to go re-watch the films I recognized and track down the ones I didn’t.
Enjoy this 250 page shout-out to the highs and lows of high school, to friends, to bands, to favorite make-out spots and memorable moments, the promise of the future and the spectacular snapshot of graduation night, the metaphorical and literal transition from childhood to adulthood, from captivity to freedom.

The only thing missing from “I Love You, Beth Cooper” is a recommend list of movies to watch now that you are in the mood! So, I made a list of the movies that provide the quotes that begin each chapter, in the order they are mentioned (and linked when possible our library catalog for your convenience!)
Romeo and Juliet (1968/I)
Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Ghost World (2001)
Porky's (1982)
Rushmore (1998)
Say Anything... (1989)
Saved! (2004)
Weird Science (1985)
Rumble Fish (1983)
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
The Breakfast Club (1985)
American Graffiti (1973)
Back to the Future (1985)
American Pie (1999)
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Footloose (1984)
Dazed and Confused (1993)
Risky Business (1983)
Clueless (1995)
Gidget (1959)
Sixteen Candles (1984)
Heathers (1989) -
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
Grease (1978)

I checked it out. 250 pages.


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