Sixteen-year-old New Yorker Max Whooten is angry and bored. (He’s mostly angry because he’s so bored, and people are so stupid. I can sympathize.) His whole summer is one big nothing, until his ancient cat, Mozart (aka “Crappy” due to his inability to utilize the litter box) finally kicks the bucket. Max’s mother, in a fit of conservationism, decides to forgo the usual options and instead sends Max, along with Mozart’s body, to upstate New York, where Mozart can be naturally laid to rest in his hippie Aunt Ginny’s backyard, and Max can learn how to get a life and get his anger under control. In Woodstock, Max discovers Kurt Vonnegut, first love, and the power of poetry. He even has an epiphany, which, despite popular belief, “doesn’t hurt at all.” This slim summer comedy reminded me of Blake Nelson’s equally spare The New Rules of High School. Contrary to the ummm, unrestrained title, (which refers to Max’s anger management problem, get your mind out of the gutter!) this is just a low key, humorous look at what it’s like to be a horny, smarter-than-average teenage boy who just wants the world to cut him a little slack. Clocking in at under 200 pages, this is also one read you could probably finish in an afternoon on the couch instead of watching yet another Pimp My Ride marathon (and it would probably be more interesting, too!).
I’m Exploding Now by Sid Hite