Miracle Wimp -- Erik P. Kraft
I have a real soft spot for Erik P. Kraft. His Lenny and Mel books got me through more than one slow day at the Monkey -- no matter how many times I read them, they always make me laugh. And not just laugh, but guffaw. What can I say? He speaks to me.
Miracle Wimp is an either/or book. People are either going to love it or... not get it. They are either going to want to form a religion around it or think it's pointless.
Our hero is Tom Mayo, who has tried to explain to the Donkeys (think back to high school -- you know who he's talking about) that "Miracle Whip is not technically mayonnaise, it's actually salad dressing", but, no luck. He's stuck with it. Miracle Wimp is about surviving high school. That's it. There's not some big huge lesson to be learned, challenge to overcome, song to be sung, dance to be danced.
Well, there is a dance. And obviously, things happen. But regular things -- like, he gets assigned wood shop by mistake:
Mr. Boort, Art Critic
Mr. Boort runs his class in an unusual fashion. Me and Jimmy Buncho were making assignment #1: magazine racks with little hearts sawed into the sides of the base. Mine looked o.k., but Jimmy really wasn't putting his, well, heart into his. Mr. Boort came by to see how things were coming along. He picked up mine, grunted a beef-flavored grunt, and put it down. He walked over to Jimmy's, picked it up, looked at it from all sides, and announced, "This thing shits," and tossed it in the trash.
He has questions about friendship. Calling girls is scary. Gym class sucks.
It brought me back to high school. To going through the motions, getting through the day and wanting it to all be over so I could move on to college, yet still bizarrely caring what the idiot/jerks thought of me. Like this:
I decided I would break into the group of kids everyone thought was cool. No one seemed to be able to explain what made them cool, though. Sort of like how I was just uncool. I should have realized that something like this was possibly meddling with forces bigger that I was, but my thinking was obviously muddled.
The cool kids all seemed to wear these giant army pants. They were kind of ridiculous, very puffy, and had lots of pockets all over the place. They weren't real army pants, either. They were really expensive pants that looked like camouflage army pants. It didn't make sense to me, but maybe that was due to my uncoolness. Once I had the pants, I figured I'd understand. Pants bring knowledge.
(Once you kick that feeling to the curb, high school gets a lot easier.)
It has short -- very short, rarely more than a page long -- sections, and it doesn't necessarily need to be read all at once or in order. I do think it would work best in order, but it is a book you could pick up, flip through and dip into here and there. After having read the whole thing cover-to-cover, I know I will.
Obviously, I'm in the religion camp. How could I not be, the added awesomeness of the patented Erik P. Kraft illustrations like the one at left? (That one is from the 'Football' segment, in which he talks about pinnies "Not only are they fishnet, but they are bright orange, and have these elastic waistbands that ride up and make you look like some sort of orange netty mushroom.")
For some people -- those who Napoleon Dynamite really resonated with, for instance -- this book will be a joy. I'm happy I happen to be one of them.