The hilarious, take-no-prisoners novel about a cynical, sex-obsessed teenager's pining love for an intelligent girl—the basis for the major motion picture starring Michael Cera.
Youth in Revolt is the journals of Nick Twisp, California's most precocious diarist, whose ongoing struggles to make sense out of high school, deal with his divorced parents, and lose his virginity result in his transformation from an unassuming fourteen-year-old to a modern youth in open revolt. As his family splinters, worlds collide, and the police block all routes out of town, Nick must cope with economic deprivation, homelessness, the gulag of the public schools, a competitive type-A father, murderous canines, and an inconvenient hair trigger on his erectile response—all while vying ardently for the affections of the beauteous Sheeni Saunders, teenage goddess, and ultimate intellectual goad.
About the Author
C.D. Payne is the author of the novels Revolting Youth, Civic Beauties, Cut to the Twisp, Frisco Pigeon Mambo, Young and Revolting, and Revoltingly Young, among others. He lives in Sonoma County.
Read an Excerpt
I am 14 years old (nearly) and live in Oakland, a large torpid city across the bay from San Francisco. I am writing this in the tenuous privacy of my bedroom on my annoyingly obsolete AT clone. My friend Lefty gave me a bootleg copy of WordPerfect, so I'm doing some writing to try and learn the command codes. My ambition is someday to be able to move entire paragraphs in a single bound.
My last name, which I loathe, is Twisp. Even John Wayne on a horse would look effeminate pronouncing that name. As soon as I turn 21 I'm going to jettison it for something a bit more macho. Right now, I'm leaning toward Dillinger. "Nick Dillinger." I think that strikes just the right note of hirsute virility.
I am an only child except for my big sister Joanie, who has left the bosom of her family to live in Los Angeles and sling hash at 35,000 feet.
The next thing you should know about me is that I am obsessed with sex. When I close my eyes, ranks of creamy thighs slowly part like some X-rated Busby Berkeley extravaganza. Lately I have become morbidly aware of my penis. Once a remote region accessed indifferently for businesslike micturition, it has developed—seemingly overnight—into a gaudy Las Vegas of the body, complete with pulsing neon, star-studded floor shows, exotic animal acts, and throngs of drunken conventioneers perpetually on the prowl for depraved thrills. I walk about in a state of obsessive expectancy, ever conscious of an urgent clamor rising from my tumescent loins. Any stimulus can trigger the show—a rhythmic rumble from the radiator, the word "titular" in a newspaper editorial, even the smell of the old vinyl in Mr. Ferguson's Toyota.
As much as I think about sex, I can only with extreme difficulty conceive of myself actually performing the act. And here's another thing I wonder about. How could you ever look a girl in the eye after you've had your winkie up her wendell? I mean, doesn't that render normal social conversation impossible? Apparently not.
THURSDAY, July 19 — My mother just left for work. She gives people driver's tests at the Department of Motor Vehicles. As you might expect, she is extremely well informed on all the arcane rules of the road (like who has to back up when two cars meet on a one-lane mountain road). She used to keep Dad up to date as he drove along on all the motor statutes he was violating. That's one of the reasons they got divorced.
I'm not speaking to her right now. Last Monday I came back from two miserable days in my dad's custody to find she had painted my bedroom a ghastly pink. She said she had read this color was widely used in hospitals to calm mental patients. I told her I wasn't mentally ill, I was just a teenager. Meanwhile, I am now embarrassed to invite my friends over. When you're a slight, unathletic teen who reads a lot and likes Frank Sinatra, you really don't want the word to get around that you wank your winkie in a room that looks like Dolly Parton's boudoir.
This summer I'm reading Charles Dickens. I've read David Coppertone, Great Expectorations, Little Dorrito, and now I'm deep into A Tale of Two Townies. Sydney Carton is so cool. If he were alive today I believe he would be endorsing fine scotch on the backs of magazines. I like Chuck a lot, but let's face it, you could read him for years and never come to a dirty part.
I am boning up (you'll pardon the expression) on Dickens in anticipation of taking Miss Satron's English Literature class next term. I'm going be in the ninth grade at St. Vitus Academy. This, they tell the parents, is the most elite and rigorous prep school in the entire East Bay. Only 40 scholarly wankers are admitted each year from literally dozens of applications.
Ravishing Miss Satron has wonderful bone structure and wears tight sweaters. She is also said to be extremely well read. Needless to say, she looms like a titan in my masturbatory fantasies.
I am back to talking to my mother (my birthday is coming up soon). She says she will buy new paint for my bedroom, but I have to apply it myself. (Personally, I'd prefer a tasteful decoupage of Hustler outtakes.) She's suggesting off-white this time, but I'm insisting on manly khaki.
The drive over to Marin went about as I expected. First, you should know Dad pilots a leased BMW 318i (the cheap one). He would dearly love to move up to a more prestigious model, but—as he often reminds me—he is burdened with crippling child-support payments. In the journey of 16 miles he changed lanes 82 times, honked the horn seven times, and flipped the bird to four drivers (mostly confused old ladies). Dad is more cautious with men now after he was chased for 15 miles on the Nimitz freeway by a carful of Iranians swinging lead pipes out the windows.
In between the scary moments, I tried to make conversation with Lacey, Dad's latest bimbette. She is 19, a newly minted alumna of Stanfort (with a "t") Institute of Cosmetology, and voluptuous in the extreme. Since I am frighteningly inarticulate around girls, I force myself to practice with Dad's bimbettes. Lacey, however, seemed more interested in laughing like a maniac and urging my father to "step on it, honey! Make that turbo scream!"
When we got to Kentfield, I learned that not only did Dad not have any activities planned, he wanted me to mow his damn lawn. For free! "Why?" said Dad. "Because, pal, I'd like to have something to show for my $583 a month in child support besides a canceled check." How about a loving relationship with your only son, you creep!
Finally, I agreed to do it for $5, pointing out that a gardener would charge at least $50. "Yeah," said Dad, "but you're not Japanese."
While I was gassing up the mower, Lacey came out on the patio in a weensy bikini for some al fresco power tanning. You didn't have to be a geologist to see that her body has more dramatic outcroppings than the coastline of Albania. Later, Dad came out and invited Lacey in for a "nap." Like all of Dad's bimbettes, she didn't have to be asked twice. As they were going in, arm in arm, I detected what looked to me like a smug glance in my direction from Dad. What a competitive asshole! Perhaps that's why I'm so uncompetitive. I've curbed my aggressiveness in reaction to his relentless excesses. Fortunately, I am writing all these revelations down in a notebook for use someday when I go into analysis. They should prove a real timesaver.
I just remembered. I never got my five bucks!
Since my pile of reading material had dwindled dangerously, I went to the library. I arrived to find the building full of unwashed people talking to themselves. Why do the homeless take such a keen interest in literature? Will this be my destiny someday? Reading Turgenev while residing in the back seat of a '72 Dodge Polara?
One particularly repellent fellow asked me for a quarter. I gave him my standard reply: "I hear McDanold's is hiring." Not very compassionate, but what do you expect from the spoiled offspring of two would-be yuppies?
The atmosphere was so dreary, I came back without a book. I'd go to the bookstores in Berkeley, but Dad is late (as usual) with my allowance--penurious as it is. I have 63 cents to my name.
I wrote this poem about his plight:
A writer of promise named Dad
Is quite literarily mad;
His kids are so grasping
They've made him a has been.
Now the hack bends his muse to an ad.
Noting I was bored, Mom suggested I go over to the park and find a pickup game of basketball. She is, of course, completely out of her mind. Short honkie teens do not play basketball on the public courts of Oakland.
She looked doubtful. "That sounds like something else for your computer. You spend too much time at that machine. You should get outside in the fresh air. Have some fun."
"Doing what?" I asked. "Stealing rebounds from future NBA stars?"
She told me to watch my smart mouth. I've heard that line before.
In case you haven't heard, Lefty's erect member takes a sudden and dramatic turn to the east about midway up the shaft. Although this worries him a lot, he's never been able to bring it up (so to speak) with his parents.
"It would kill them to know I even get hard-ons," Lefty says. He worries this abnormality will lead to targeting errors when he gets older. "What if I shove it up the wrong hole?" Lefty's grasp of female anatomy is somewhat tenuous; he imagines there are orifices galore down there.
Meanwhile, he pursues a treatment of his own devising. Every night before going to bed he tapes his dick to his right leg. Then, lying in bed, he mentally undresses Millie—thus putting counter-rotational tension on the shaft. So far, this has not straightened out the bow.
After telling me about his trip (strange food, unintelligible natives, cute girls without tops arrayed like cordwood on sunny beaches), he got to the real news: he has found his older sister Martha's diary. And a real page-turner it is. She writes she "went all the way" with Carlo, an Italian waiter at their hotel in France. And did a few other semi-kinky things with him as well. Now all she can do is "think about sweet fat cock." Under this sizzling confession, Lefty has penciled in: "For a good time, call Nick Twisp," followed by my phone number.
I'm ready if she calls. My Conduit Of Carnal Knowledge may not be particularly "fat," but it probably qualifies under a broad definition of "sweet." And I'm sure I'm better read than that guy Carlo.
Since my last birthday I have gained a total of three and one-quarter inches—two and one-half inches in height and three-quarter inch in erect penis length. If it were all the same to my DNA, I'd just as soon those figures were reversed. I am still struggling to reach six inches, while Lefty has already sprouted past seven inches. To be sure, less of his growth effort is being devoted to mental development. Still, if I am not destined to be tall or good-looking, it's only fair that I be granted some compensatory phallic elongation. At the very least, I should be spared the ravages of adolescent acne. (My face is beginning to resemble a pepperoni and eyeballs pizza.) I think they should take some of the billions they're throwing away on dandruff cures and cancer research, and apply it to really important matters--like wiping out the scourge of acne.
WEDNESDAY, August 1 — Happy birthday to me. Thirteen was a crummy age; let's hope 14 is an improvement. So far it's been a real scrotum squeezer.
Mom gave me $20 this morning to get my hair cut. She likes me to get it professionally styled in a salon where they play loud rock music. That way I can come out looking like a successful real estate agent, junior division. Instead, I go to the $9 places and pocket the change. (I feel I am still too young to tip.) So I'm sitting there, minding my own business, when the barber says, "By the way, did anyone ever tell you you're going to be bald by the age of 30?"
What! Yes, it seems all signs point to a clear diagnosis of incipient male-pattern baldness. But, I protest, my dad still has all (well most) of his hair. "No matter," replies the learned barber, "baldness is inherited through the mother's side." Terror paralyzes me as I remember Uncle Al's acres of clear-cut scalp. Apparently, I am going to grow up to be a short, pockmarked bald guy. My only hope for enjoying any intimate female companionship at all is to obtain great wealth—as quickly as possible. That's it for literature. It's get-rich-quick books for me from now on.
All this was so depressing, I had to go to Rasputin Records and buy two Frank Sinatra albums (both from the '60s when he could still sing). The clerks are so condescending when you're not buying the latest output of the Moist Panties, Puking Libidos, or other such heroin-addicted, heavy metal group. So I always tell them my purchase is a gift for my aunt in Cleveland. Personally, I feel the world would be a much better place if every radio station played Frank's version of "My One and Only Love" at least once an hour. Fat chance!
Then, after dinner, Mom brought out this gaily wrapped package that was precisely the right size and shape to contain a 486 motherboard. Eagerly, I tore off the wrapping, ripped open the box, and stared in stunned disbelief. An official Rodney "Butch" Bolicweigski first baseman's glove! Thanks, Mom. Just what I always wanted. Another mitt for my closet. I now have enough gear to equip a triple-A ball team.
Mom persists in believing I will someday bring glory to the family on the playing fields of a grateful nation. Have I confessed to her that I'm always the last guy picked when they choose up sides? Yes. Have I abased my manhood by admitting to my mother that I throw like a girl? Yes. Does she listen? No! Just keep giving me mitts and someday I'll turn into Rollie Fingers. What I can't understand, if she wanted to breed jocks, why did she mate with a dork like Dad? He needs professional coaching just to pull a jockstrap on straight.
11:50 p.m. My birthday is almost over. No call or card from Dad. I am squeezing a zit on my chin the size of metropolitan Fresno.
Excerpted from "Youth in Revolt"
Copyright © 1996 C.D. Payne.
Excerpted by permission of Crown/Archetype.
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