Crazy
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Crazy

4.2 15
by William Peter Blatty
     
 

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Bestselling author William Peter Blatty warms our hearts with a funny yet deeply moving nostalgic tale of memory, mystery . . . and miracles.

New York, 1941: Joey El Bueno is just a smart-aleck kid, confounding the nuns and bullies at St. Stephen's school on East 28th Street when he first meets Jane Bent, a freckle-faced girl with red pigtails and yellow

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Overview

Bestselling author William Peter Blatty warms our hearts with a funny yet deeply moving nostalgic tale of memory, mystery . . . and miracles.

New York, 1941: Joey El Bueno is just a smart-aleck kid, confounding the nuns and bullies at St. Stephen's school on East 28th Street when he first meets Jane Bent, a freckle-faced girl with red pigtails and yellow smiley-face barrettes who seems to know him better than he knows himself. A magical afternoon at the movies, watching Cary Grant in Gunga Din, is the beginning of a puzzling friendship that soon leaves Joey baffled and bewildered.

Jane is like nobody he has ever met. She comes and goes at will, nobody else seems to have heard of her, and is it true that she once levitated six feet off the ground at the refreshment counter of the old Superior movie house on Third Avenue? Joey, an avid reader of pulp magazines and comic books, is no stranger to amazing stories, but Jane is a bewitching enigma that keeps him guessing for the rest of his life—until, finally, it all makes sense.

Rich with the warmth of a bygone era, Crazy captures both the giddy craziness of youth—and the sublime possibilities of existence.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Joey El Bueno recalls his childhood in WWII-era New York in this nostalgic, uncharacteristically sentimental novel from horror master Blatty (The Exorcist). In 1941, seventh-grader Joey meets the "nuttier than a truckload of filberts" Jane Bent and admits to being " perverse enough to find a little lunacy incredibly attractive." After an afternoon at the movies, Jane disappears, and Joey has trouble proving to anyone else that she ever existed. When Joey next encounters Jane, she's taken the form of a little girl who knows all about him, and Joey, understandably, questions his sanity. The mystery of Jane is eventually and unsatisfyingly explained, but it's Joey's narrative voice, not the plot, that sustains this slight, amiable book, as it dips between the good ol' days and an elderly Joey, a retired screenwriter, dishing about the movie biz--something Hollywood veteran Blatty sketches with aplomb. Cheerful though unsubstantial, this novel will please nostalgia seekers but will disappoint readers who associate Blatty with spewed pea soup. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews

Nostalgia, sentimentality and irreverent comedy redeem a paper-thin plot in this latest from the veteran author of The Exorcist and later fiction (Dimiter, 2010, etc.).

It's a monologue performed (as if in a standup routine) by a retired octogenarian Hollywood screenwriter, Peruvian-American Joey El Bueno. While politely deflecting his Bellevue Hospital Nurse Bloor's request for his evaluation of her screenplay idea (about Nazi scientists and Hitler's preserved brain), Joey reminisces about his boyhood in New York City circa 1941, as a reluctant Catholic middle-school student, a devourer of pulp fiction and virtually every movie ever made and the accidental friend of a beautiful, eccentric older girl named Jane Bent, who attaches herself to him, becomes his self-appointed mentor and reappears mysteriously as herself and in other guises throughout Joey's youth. Though we are made privy to his adventures with Jane, none of Joey's schoolmates or buddies will even acknowledge her existence. The resulting mystery possesses and enriches Joey's imagination, as he grows regretfully away from his almost saintly "Pop," a long-widowed pushcart vendor, and into something quite like adulthood. Major problems: Jane disappears from the novel for many pages at a time; Joey/Blatty can't seem to distinguish a good gag from a groaner; and the eventually revealed identity of Joey's mystery girl/woman is a clumsy letdown that few readers will fail to see coming. Nevertheless, there are charmingly funny evocations of the 1939 New York World's Fair and a revelatory day spent at Coney Island's Luna Park. One appreciates the cameo appearance made by a Boy Scout troop leader who moonlights as a numbers runner—not to mention the schoolteacher nun who assigns an essay on the topic "Why St. Francis of Assisi Talked to Birds But Not Fish." But Blatty stacks the deck with forced emphases on the figure of Jane ("There was this aura about her, something spiritual; ethereal, really.").

Readers aren't likely to buy it. Our suggestion: Skim this one if you must, then pop some corn and watch the film version ofThe Exorcist again.

Elizabeth Hand
It's hard to believe, but local horror meister William Peter Blatty once had a booming career as a funny guy…Which makes his new novel, Crazy, a return to form. It's a sweet-natured, often hilarious…lovely, time-shifting novel, which evokes a lost New York complete with a school excursion to Coney Island and side trips to "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir." It's like a classic Jean Shepherd anecdote with supernatural overtones.
—The Washington Post
From the Publisher

“Crazy is terrific! A wonderful novel: funny, touching and SO full of love!” —Julie Andrews, legendary star and bestselling author

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765326492
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
11/09/2010
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
6.92(w) x 11.80(h) x 0.77(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Where do I begin? The seventh grade at St. Stephen’s on East 28th Street in 1941, I suppose, because that’s where and when I first met Jane, back before we grew up and she started disappearing and then reappearing in someplace like Tibet or Trucial Oman from where she’d send me picture postcards with tiny scrawled messages in different-colored inks such as, “Thinking of you sometimes in the morning” or “Angkor Wat really smells. Joey, don’t ever come here for a vacation,” but there’d be only a day between the postmarked dates and sometimes no difference at all between them, and then all of a sudden she’d reappear again looking years younger, which is nothing, I suppose, when compared to that time when supposedly she levitated six feet off the ground when she thought they were running out of Peter Paul Mounds candy bars at the refreshment counter of the old Superior movie house on 30th Street and Third Avenue back when there were el trains rumbling overhead and a nickel got you two or three feature films, plus a Buck Jones Western chapter, four cartoons, bingo and an onstage paddleball contest, when supposedly a theater usher approached her and told her, “Hey, come on, kid, get down, you can’t be doing that crazy stuff in here!” and right away she wobbled down to the seedy lobby carpet, gave the usher the arm and yelled, “That’s the same kind of crap they gave Tinkerbell!” but then I know you have no interest in any of these matters, so fine, let’s by all means move on and go back to the beginning.

Which comes at the end.

“Medication time.”

It’s December 24, 2010, and I’m sitting by a window in a tenth-floor Bellevue Hospital recovery room staring down at a tugboat churning up a foaming white V at its prow in the East River’s death-dark suicide waters and looking like it’s hugging itself against the cold. “Hi ya, kiddo!” The pudgy and diminutive Nurse Bloor breezily waddles into my room, a hypodermic syringe upraised in her pudgy little staph-infested fingers. She stops by my chair and I look down at her feet and I stare. I’ve never seen a nurse in stiletto heels. She glances over at something I sculpted a couple of days before and says, “Hey, now, what’s that?” and I tell her that it’s Father Perrault’s wooden leg from Lost Horizon, but she doesn’t pursue it, nor does she react to my laptop computer: she has read Archy and Mehitabel and knows that sometimes even a rat can type.

“Okay, a teensy little stick,” she says.

I yelp, “Ouch!”

“Oh, come on, now, don’t tell me that hurt!”

Well, it didn’t, but I want to puncture her starched-white pride and maddening air of self-assurance. She scowls, slaps a Band-Aid on the puncture and leaves. Sometimes growth of the soul needs pain, which is something I have always been on the spot to give.

The pneumatic door closes with a sigh. I turn my glance to my desk and the gift from Bloor that’s sitting on top of it, a foot-tall artificial Christmas tree with different-colored Band-Aids hanging from its branches. For a moment I stare at it dully, and then I shift my gaze to the dry and abandoned public pool down on the corner of First Avenue and 23rd where I almost drowned when Paulie Farragher and Jimmy Connelly kept shoving me back into the pool’s deep end every time I tried to climb up and out for air and I swore any number of choking, coughing blood oaths that if God let me live I would track them to Brazil or to China or the Yucatan, anyplace at all where I could offer them death without the comfort of the sacraments. Yes. I remember all of that. I do. I remember even though I’m eighty-two years old.

Again.

CRAZY Copyright © 2010 by William Peter Blatty

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Meet the Author

William Peter Blatty is best known for his mega-bestselling novel The Exorcist. Blatty also cowrote the screenplay of the hilarious Inspector Clouseau film, A Shot in the Dark. Known for his early comic novels, the New York Times proclaimed that “nobody can write funnier lines than William Peter Blatty,” describing him as “a gifted virtuoso who writes like S. J. Perelman.” Blatty lives with his wife and a son in Maryland.

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Crazy 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1941 in Manhattan, Joey El Bueno is a seventh grader at St. Stephen's School. He cherishes comic books and movie while somehow safely eludes the nuns and bullies who run the school with iron fists. Joey meets new student nutty Jane Bent as both relish the movie Gunga Din. He realizes he appreciates people with a touch of lunacy as a super attractive trait; Joey especially enjoys her mangling metaphors of what apparently is history and what confusingly seems to have not yet happened. One day after a movie, Jane vanishes. Joey is confused by her vanishing, but more bewildered by everyone at school looking at him like he is Crazy because no one else will confess they met or even saw Jane. He begins to wonder if they are right; as time passes with no clues to prove she lived or what happened to Jane; if he is not insane than Joey turns to his comic books for solutions as there the supernatural and paranormal are the normal. This is an intriguing look at 1941 New York City though the eyes of a tweener who may be crazy. Ironically, the elongated sentences imply that Joey is crazy or that Jane is a strange essence; however those same significant seemingly endless sentences are difficult to follow requiring at times re-reading. With a nod to Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire though the novel occurs two decades earlier than the song, fans will enjoy this offbeat character study of a person who may be crazy, but then again who is not at least just a little bit insane. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this rather short (188 pages) book the other day on the recommendation of a friend who is a professional reviewer. I confess to being a novice at book reviewing, but I liked this book so much that I couldn't resist trying my hand at this. I'll try to be brief! First, this is one of the funniest books I have read in many years. I know that the author, William Peter Blatty, is best known for his "spooky" books, but I hope he will stick to comic writing for a while because I think he is a natural at it. Quoting the funny lines at length will only spoil the fun for anyone planning to read the story, so I will just quote a couple of brief passages as an example of how original and clever Blatty's sense of humor is. In this passage, the narrator, a dying 80-year-old former screenwriter recalling a visit to Coney Island as a youth, writes: "There was a breeze and these jillions of gulls all circling and squawking forlornely but with great agitation and high excitement as if they were in factions that were blaming one another for the loss of some unspoiled world, some paradise where every automobile was a convertible and where hats and awnings did not exist." Or here, recalling his jumbled emotions as a teen: "Too much was going on inside (my head), too many delerious, mysterious fandangos all bombarding my brain like it was some kind of run-down cargo spaceship being bombarded by swarms of pissed off meteors because an article in Science Magazine had referred to them as "space debris." Or while recounting a conversation about one of the films he wrote as a hack screenwriter: "'So what else did you write?' Bloor asked. 'The Fly VI.' Bloor's brow furrowed in surprise. 'They made a Six?' 'Oh, well, sure! It's the one where by day The Fly is a restaurant inspector for the New York Board of Health.' 'That the one with Jeff Goldblum?' 'No. Dolly Parton. I made the Fly a woman for that one.' 'Wow!' 'Yeah. That's why I got paid the big bucks.'" Taken out of context, I suppose these examples lose some of their effect, but at least you get an idea of how inventive and unique the author's sense of humor is. And I haven't even quoted the funniest bits so as not to spoil your enjoyment if you do read it. I will stop now and let the professional and semi-professional critics write a proper review. I will just end by saying that this is a very moving and sweet and heart-warming story that has a lot to say about the central importance of kindness in all of our lives. This story really moved me, as brief as it is, and had me both laughing my head off on one page and then getting choked up on the next. A truly unique and profound reading experience.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not entirely sure how to go about reviewing this book seeing as (to me) it wasn't a great read.  The one good thing I can say about it is that the plot was very interesting.  The problem though is that the story wasn't written very well. I could barely follow what I was reading. Every time I reached a run-on sentence (which was a lot) I had to skim it just to get to the next sentence, therefore missing out on a lot of the book.  Another thing is that it wasn't very memorable - I finished it about half an hour ago and I already forget most of what happened. This was happening while reading as well. I found myself going back and re-reading things to see if I could understand what was happening. (I couldn't.) This may be due to the fact that I had to skip so many parts because I was getting lost halfway through all of the extremely long sentences.  None of the characters were really written in a lot of detail. I couldn't get myself to relate to any of them and none of them felt real to me. I'm used to reading a book and falling in love with at least one of the characters (for instance, Sirius Black and Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter) but that didn't happen to any extent with the characters here.  The only reason I read the whole thing is because it's a short book, and I thought maybe at some point it would get better and I'd stop feeling so lost. Overall it just feels like if the story was edited more (and I mean quite a bit more) it would have been pretty good.  While I didn't absolutely hate it, I still wouldn't recommend it.
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Lynn Hendershot More than 1 year ago
Sadly disppointing. I had rather high hopes for this book, but was really unhappy with the writing style, the plot, and the characters. Very little to recommend. Do NOT waste your time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Blaze, if you arr reading this, wanna o to the dance with me?" She asks hopefully
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey wanna go out? ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kaylin?
Carl Minue More than 1 year ago
we are born ,a lot of stuff in between, we die and than.