cover image Junior


Macaulay Culkin, . . Miramax, $22.95 (199pp) ISBN 978-1-4013-5234-9

This self-indulgently infantile book is a novel in only the loosest sense: it looks and reads more like a book-length zine. Amid quizzes, comics, poetry, journal entries, lists (one to-do: "Pump my own gas") and bits of narrative, child star Culkin, through the persona of Junior, tackles the emotional fallout from his years struggling under the parenting—and, inseparably, the career management—of an abusive father. Though Culkin protests that Junior the character is not Culkin the author, the line seems pretty thin. Early on, Junior notes that he's "not a writer," and few readers will argue. But as a calculated piece of celebrity implosion, the book is weirdly compelling. Passages dealing directly with the father are uniformly powerful: smart and tragic. Unfortunately, this rich central conflict gets buried beneath interminable bellyaching over the writing process, half-baked philosophical musing and go-nowhere overtures to a woman who no longer loves him. Of all the ironies Culkin tries to engage (as when overgrown rich kid Junior asks, "Wouldn't it be nice to have a place in the country like we talked about?"), the book's biggest is that it's best when it sticks with Daddy. (Mar.)