LPayne, C.D. (1993). New York: Broadway Books. ISBN-10: 0385481969/ ISBN-13: 978-0385481960
Nick Twisp is 14 and has an active sexual imagination and a diary. After his mom’s truck-driver boyfriend Jerry has a run-in with some angry sailors over a lemon car he sold them, Nick goes with Jerry and his mom on a ‘vacation’from the East Bay where they live, up to a cheesy Christian-run trailer park in Lake County. There he meets his great love, Sheridan Saunders, usually called Sheeni—“One of two intellectuals living in Ukiah, Ca.” What follows is a complicated string of crimes and misunderstandings that leave Nick forced to hide from the law masquerading as Carlotta Ulansky, an old dead lady. Nick inherits a fortune, gets cheated out of it, finally receives his dream for Christmas, and succeeds in the end in a creative and unexpected way.
Nick Twisp is a smart 14 year old who thinks about sex all the time, especially after he meets his dream-girl, a brainy and curvaceous Ukiah intellectual nicknamed Sheeni. Following his libido leads Nick to the wrong side of the law—can he find safety in cross-dressing?
This book is a disappointment; it didn’t live up to the recommendations. Everybody is pretty much a cartoon—at first each seems to be a hip, underground cartoon, but on longer acquaintance the characters are more like the daily comics—repeated depictions of the same set of traits and behaviors. Of course, this is true of many great comedic figures, but the trouble is, Nick doesn’t wear well. At first the mashup of lofty diction and baser nature is funny, but it never varies. The plot is a sequence of escapades which soon blur together. The cross-dressing section of the book was the liveliest—the outfits seemed to bring out the best in Nick. The Bay Area settings, especially of the weird out-of-the-way areas like Ukiah and Santa Cruz are one of the more enjoyable aspects of the book for an area native. Also, I want a wart watch.
About the author
Sources say C.D. Payne was christened C. Douglas Payne. What kind of name is ‘C.’? He graduated from Harvard in 1971, and lives in Sonoma County, the origin of this blog!
Designs for Wartwatches
I Hate Sheeni
Where in the World is Nick Twisp? (Bay Area locations)
Reading Level/Interest Age
It's YA, but adults don't like it.
Use student responses
Upcoming movie sure to bring it back into my classroom