Pizza Face, Or, the Hero of Suburbia

Ken Siman, Author Grove/Atlantic $17.95 (179p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1398-6
Andy is a gawky teenager with a bad complexion living with his distracted parents in Charlotte, N.C. , in the late '70s. He collects presidential campaign buttons and signed portraits, counts President Carter among his pen pals and lobbies his school to sponsor a penmanship contest. He is a nerd, surely, but he is also gay, an awareness of which unfolds so naturally--for both the reader and Andy--that an affecting message of tolerance is silently and eloquently conveyed. Siman's main intent, however, is capturing a time and place by showing the painful accommodation of someone who is different, for Andy surely sticks out. His only ``real planned outfit'' is ``yellow bell-bottoms, an open-necked slippery shirt with brightly colored parakeets, a puka shell necklace . . . and earth shoes.'' Then there is the pecking order for teenage employment at the mall: ``The popular people sold Levi's; heavyset ones worked at the Cheese Hut; cool people worked at the Record Bar.'' Andy ends up at the Burger Chef--with colleagues ``Iced Tea'' and ``Peanut Butter''--on the ``other side of town.'' Siman's deadpan humor and sharp eye distinguish this engaging and finally triumphant passage of a self-conscious boy into a healthy acceptance of his otherness, and Andy's terminal crush on a college roommate is touchingly rendered. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
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