The Amazing and Death-Defying Diary of Eugene Dingman: The Amazing and Death Defying Diary of Eugene Dingman

Paul Zindel, Author HarperCollins Publishers $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-06-026862-6
Eugene Dingman of Bayonne, N.J., begins a diary on his 15th birthday, the day he learns that he's to be a waiter at a posh summer hotel in New York's Adirondack Mountains. The chronicle that follows comprises a marvelous blend of hyperbole and deadpan, at once poignant and hilariously funny, with characters that sparkle. Eugene finds both heaven and hell at the end of Skunksstet Misery Lane, where sits Lake Henry Hotel. Hell is being the youngest waiter, tormented by maniacal chef Bunker. Heaven is being hopelessly in love with Francophile waitress Della, who inspires Eugene to read Madame Bovary. But Eugene's love isn't returned. To add to his misery, his mother may be involved with an ex-Mafia hit man, and Eugene's long-absent father won't answer his letters. It isn't until after Labor Day that Eugene dramatically acts to establish his self-esteem. Zindel (The Pigman, I Never Loved Your Mind, My Darling, My Hamburger, etc.) masterfully captures the mixture of bravado, ingenuousness and aching self-doubt that are endemic to adolescence. Ages 12-up. (October)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1987
Release date: 10/01/1987
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