Written as a blog, this debut novel stars Katie Kampenfelt, who types away at her very own Internet reality show. A sassy suburbanite teenager who defers college for a year, Katie takes a job as a nanny for a wealthy family and chronicles her day-to-day life online in the time of Netflix, Barack Obama and Internet lingo. The divulging blog entries start in October 2007 and end in May 2008, instantly gaining popularity as Katie confesses her promiscuous behavior and charts her uncensored thoughts and emotions. Her audience provides constant feedback, both supportive and critical. She notes that only on the Internet can one be both lonely and popular simultaneously, which is a comment on our culture and being 17. When Katie's admittedly superficial arrogance is under control, she is insightful and hilarious, exposing her fears and insecurities. Name and event changes in order to keep the blog's anonymity are disappointing, a fiction within fiction, and raises the question, what is truth? On the Internet, who is really anonymous? Perhaps our dear Katie wasn't such an undiscovered gyrl after all. Burnett's novel is intriguing, but seems at times contrived. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Undiscovered Gyrlby Allison Burnett
Beautiful, wild, funny, and lost, Katie Kampenfelt is taking a year off before college to find her passion. Ambitious in her own way, Katie intends to do more than just smoke weed with her boyfriend, Rory, and work at the bookstore. She plans to seduce Dan, a thirty-two-year-old film/b>
Only on the internet can you have so many friends and be so lonely.
Beautiful, wild, funny, and lost, Katie Kampenfelt is taking a year off before college to find her passion. Ambitious in her own way, Katie intends to do more than just smoke weed with her boyfriend, Rory, and work at the bookstore. She plans to seduce Dan, a thirty-two-year-old film professor.
Katie chronicles her adventures in an anonymous blog, telling strangers her innermost desires, shames, and thrills. But when Dan stops taking her calls, when her alcoholic father suffers a terrible fall, and when she finds herself drawn into a dangerous new relationship, Katie's fearless narrative begins to crack, and dark pieces of her past emerge.
Sexually frank, often heartbreaking, and bursting with devilish humor, Undiscovered Gyrl is an extraordinarily accomplished novel of identity, voyeurism, and deceit.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
“Allison Burnett has magically brewed an addictive elixir. Blogging, self-absorption, and bad behavior slowly build into a touching and deeply moving narrative, yet Burnett chooses to serve this concoction unadorned, a shot of vodka–all the better to feel the ending’s burn. If you’ve ever been tempted to dismiss the next generation, read this book.” —Amanda Boyden, author of Pretty Little Dirty and Babylon Rolling
“Imagine an 18-year-old Lolita, updated to the 21st century, blogging her own provocative adventures. By turns charming and crude, disturbingly reckless and achingly tender, Undiscovered Gyrl seduces you into her downy arms, locks her long legs around your waist and doesn’t let go. Shot through with teenage yearning for ‘true love,’ each page vibrates with the quicksilver spirit of youth. As we follow the narrator on her ever-darkening journey, questions arise about voyeurism and identity in an age of cyber-anonymity. Allison Burnett’s masterful page-turner lingers long after the last page.” —Rachel Resnick, author of Love Junkie
Read an Excerpt
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Last April when I decided to defer college for a year my friends said I was insane, but I’m not. I have no idea what I want to do with my life. What a waste of time and money to go to college if you don’t know! My mom was furious at me when I told her, although she pretended she wasn’t. She said “But, sweetheart, that’s what college is for. To discover your bliss.” That sounds great on paper but what if I don’t discover my bliss until the end of sophomore year and it has nothing to do with the classes I’ve already taken? I’d have to start over. Or what if it turns out my bliss is something that doesn’t require a college degree? Like jewelry design. Or horseback riding. Or sex. Ha!
The next morning my mother emailed me and said if I was really serious about deferring and wanted to go on living at home, I’d have to get a full time job. What did she think I was going to do, hang around the house all day?
When I told my English teacher, Ms. Rath, of my decision, she took off her hippie glasses, rubbed the purple spots on both sides of her big-pored nose and said “I’m concerned. A girl like you needs structure.” As if you can only get structure at college! That’s pretty harsh to all the kids who can’t afford to go. And what about the girls who do go but instead of studying get drunk every night and bone the whole football team? Is that structure? Ms. Rath said I should keep a journal or start a blog so that one day I will look back on my year off and learn from the experience. I told her that was a wonderful idea. I was lying to get away from her yellow teeth and vegan breath. At least that’s what I thought at the time. Guess not!
I hope I’m not a disgrace at blogging. I have always excelled at creative writing but I suck at grammar and punctuation and can barely write my own name without spell-check. (Ms. Rath thinks I’m mildly slysdexic. Ha!) Maybe this experiment will help me to discover my bliss faster. Hope so. Bye.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Most blogs are just some boring chick telling you everything you never wanted to know about her stupid life. Every single day she tells you more boring details until you just want to write to her and say “Yo, bitch, when something actually happens, let me know!” My blog will be the exact opposite. I’ll only write when I have something fascinating to report. Which is not now. Right now it’s Halloween. I’m going to put on my rotting corpse mask and get drunk.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Last night Dan called and asked if I wanted to come over and watch a movie. We both know what that means. Which is why I swore I’d never go back. But I did. In fact I ran the whole way. I have no will power. Outside his front door I put on my corpse mask and when he opened up I screamed “Boo!” He wasn’t scared at all. He just laughed.
It’s always the same with me and Dan. As soon as I get to his house, we light up cigarettes and start bitching about our love lives. Last night I complained about how when I got home really late Saturday night from a semi-rave, my boyfriend, Rory, was waiting outside my house. He flipped out and called me “a disgusting whore” even though I hadn’t done anything wrong. All I did was drink rum and root beers with a really funny skate-rat named Tobias who’s gay and doesn’t know it yet. Rory didn’t believe me. He got so jealous he yelled in my face and shook the shit out of me. When I told him to get the fuck out and never come back, he panicked. Within two minutes he was whining like a little bitch, telling me how much he loved me and begging me not to break up. He is grotesquely insecure. I have to dump him.
Then it was Dan’s turn. He complained about his French girlfriend, Martine, and how she’s been getting crazier and crazier lately. Right before her period, she calls him terrible names and throws heavy objects at his head. He says at these times she is “unfit for human consumption.” They had a major fight this week because he wants her to go on Prozac a few days before each period and she said no way, she’s not some stupid American who takes a pill every time she has an emotion.
Now that we’ve finished justifying what’s about to occur, Dan gets out the weed and I pick out a film from the three he’s Netflicked. Dan teaches cinema studies at a local college. He is absolutely brilliant and is writing his P.H.D. on Anti-Americanism in the works of Jean Luc Godard. The movies he picks for us to watch are all classics. No Hollywood junk. My relationship with Dan would be like my own personal film school if only I could get through a single movie with my pants on. Hahaha!
Last night it was so cold out that while Dan stuffed the bong, I borrowed one of his sweaters. I chose a big gray cashmere V-neck with holes in the armpits. Older men’s sweaters are the best.
. . .
We got totally stoned off two hits each then Dan hit play. The film was “The Seven Beauties” by Lena Vertmuller. (She also directed the incredible “Swept Away” which most people think is about sex but is actually about the class system in Italian society.) As usual we sat on opposite sides of the couch. Then about 15 minutes later, also as usual, I crawled over, pushed him down on his back and laid my head on his chest. I love watching movies like this, even though I can barely hear the dialogue sometimes, because of the noise his hand makes as he gently scratches my scalp. A therapist would say it’s because I get no love from my dad. I say so what? It still feels amazing.
I lose track of time on marijuana so I never know exactly how long it is before I kiss him. But I’m always the one who kisses first. If Dan made the first move he would feel way too guilty. He’s 32 and I’m 17. Can you say “jailbait”?
Once we start kissing, Dan goes insane. He pulls my shirt up, grinds me to death and in about two minutes my pants and underwear are on the floor. Is every older guy a master at oral sex or just Dan? I guess I’ll find out one day. Can’t wait!
Besides how good it feels, I also love it because I get to close my eyes and let my stoned mind wander wherever it wants to. A real journey. Last night I was back in our old house before my dad moved out. We were watching the Greenbay Packers on TV. When he screamed at the TV so did I, even though I was only six years old and didn’t understand the rules. Then I was floating on my back in a perfectly clear lake where we used to go every summer and the sunny sky had no clouds and Mr. Silaggi, the Hungarian man with the cabin next to ours, was on the shore clapping for me because it was the first time I’d ever floated with no help. He was wearing plaid shorts with black socks to cover the earthworm vains in his calves. Then it was last June and Principal Wise was handing me my diploma and whispering “We’re all so proud of you, Katherine.” He said this because as a freshman I spent three days in a mental hospital. Instead of his kind compliment making me happy good, it made me feel sorry for myself because it reminded me that my dad was too sick and selfish to be there. And then all of the sudden I was back in the present and Dan was crawling up my stomach wiping his mouth and saying “You get so close. Every time. But you always hold back.”
“Don’t be sorry. It’s your loss not mine.”
Sad but true!
One wonderful thing about hooking up with an older guy is that you don’t have to reciprocate. Younger guys practically grab you by the hair and push you onto their dicks. “My turn!” Or else if they’re the sensitive type, they tell you how making love will bring you so much closer, and then they start to whine and beg like a hungry puppy. Yuck! Dan never makes demands. The only way I knew I was sexually frustrating him is that one time at the door he said “I’m going to cum before you get to the corner.” He was joking of course but I got the point. The reason I’ve been so selfish with him is that I always thought if we did anything more, we would end up having sex. I’ve never slept with a guy older than 22. Will it be different? Will I hate it? Or will I love it so much I’ll never want to have sex with a guy my own age again? These are the questions I ask.
Meet the Author
Allison Burnett is a screenwriter in LA and the author of Christopher, a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award, and The House Beautiful.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Written in blog form, this book is about a lonely, self-destructive teenage girl. When the book (or blog;-) starts, the un-named protaganist is at a stand still in her life: no ambition for college, doesn't want to work, feels she's been left behind while most of her friends go on to college. As the story goes on, her life starts to spiral more and more out of control. All the while, she's blogging it all for her reader's to get the inside view. I read this book straight through in one day. Once I started it, I couldn't put it down. I thought it was very well written, and the plot was like a train wreck: you know things will be bad, but you just can't look away. And, despite some despicable behavior by the main character, you can't help but root for her. It's a good reminder how someone's actions may show one thing, but inside they might be feeling very different.
Curiously Captivating "Undiscovered Gyrl" chronicles Katie Kampenfelt's gap year between high school and college, a deferment she's hoping will help her "discover her bliss." Katie is sharp, sexy, and smart, and lots of ambition--but without much motivation to go with it, she's just not sure what to do with that ambition. Over the year, Katie keeps a blog to keep track of her thoughts and experiences. Through this blog, the reader gains insight into her romantic entanglements, insecurities and traumas, and both her deepest and shallowest desires--what the reader really gets, though, is a surprisingly well-done portrait of a teenage girl struggling to find out who she is and what she wants as the world around her moves on without her and the people in her life walk in and out--leaving various long-lasting positive and negative impacts. I found Katie endlessly fascinating, and even more so because of the fact that she is not someone I have been or would be around. Despite Katie’s various morally questionable and condemnable decisions, she still elicits great sympathy and intrigue from the reader. I found myself both smirking and sighing for her—a more emotionally accomplished novel might have left me laughing and crying. Despite the fact that she is only 17, Burnett does a good job at composing a well-rounded, believable, and utterly fascinating character. My review is negatively impacted by the novel’s conclusion. While I am not a reader who needs everything tied together in a bow at the end, this novel simply left too much out to even leave something to the imagination. Katie’s unreliability as a narrator is part of what makes her so fascinating, but this tactic undermines too much of Burnett’s work with the ending he has constructed. The reader is left without enough context or clues to be given the opportunity to come to any theories of their own. The abruptness suggest less of an intentional literary move on Burnett’s part, and more of a sudden realization that his story was coming to a close and he simply had no idea how to exit. Despite this, I would still recommend readers pick this up if they’re looking for a weekend read. Overall, it is an engaging character study and easy read that will leave a lingering impression on the reader—Katie is not someone easily forgotten.
Allison Burnett is able to absorb every facet of his created characters so completely that each of his books gives the reader the feeling that the first person narrator is the actual writer. Visit his previous books - CHRISTOPHER: A TALE OF SEDUCTION and THE HOUSE BEAUTIFUL - and try to be convinced that the idiosyncratic characters are not real and writing their own memoirs. Now in UNDISCOVERED GYRL Burnett further challenges himself by writing a novel in the first person who happens to be both a girl and a female artifice created by the media we now live by - the internet. He manages to make this Katie creation so credible that her incredibility works! Who is she really - spoiled mouthy high school graduate or the femme fatale she creates with the device of the blog? Burnett's writing style is so fluid that he makes this initially wild idea for a novel capture the reader's attention and makes us go along with the preposterous shenanigans of a character about whom we know little except for the persona she manufactures, scratching our heads at times trying to figure out how the deception will play out, while most of the time just voyeuristically going along for the ride. He knows is craft and after his sojourns into the edgy worlds of his previous two novels, he has the guts to pull us further into those places most of us only silently peek at as we surf the www. This book is entertaining as a novel: this book is a real examination of where we are now in this distorted world of quasi-real communication and identities! Grady Harp
the ending had me thinking about the book for a couple days tho.. -_- lol