Saturday, September 10, 2011

When life gives you dilemmas...

You make dilemonade! That's what I thought what Adrian Mole did in Sue Townsend's hilarious The Adrian Mole Diaries. Actually, this book is made up of two novels -- The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole. Both have been published in the mid-1980s, but are still as hysterically funny when read today.

There are just so many things to love about Adrian Mole. He's a hypochondriac who insists on seeing a doctor because his voice is cracking. He's clueless about his father having an affair even though it's staring him at the face. He thinks of himself as an intellectual because he has received at least three rejection letters from the BBC. He fancies himself as a poet because he occasionally writes something like this:

Norway! Land of difficult spelling,

   Hiding your beauty behind strange vowels.
Land of long nights, short days and dots over "O"s.

   Ruminating majestic reindeers
Tread wearily on ice floes

   Ever aware of what happened to the

   One day I will sojourn to your shores
I live in the middle of England
Norway! My soul resides in your watery fiords

   fyords fiiords
Inlets. [p. 167]
Nowadays, there's a word for what Adrian Mole is -- loser. But oh what a lovable loser he is. One can't help but pine for him even when he's spending several hours counting his pimples. Or when he runs away hoping against hope that his parents would alert the police for his disappearance. (Unfortunately, they don't.) And somehow, when he bungles up his paper route, he writes about in a nonchalant way that can only be described as clueless.
Thursday, February 26th
The papers got mixed up today. Elm Tree Avenue got the Sun and the Mirror and Corporation Row got the heavy papers.
I don't know why everybody went so mad. You'd think they would enjoy reading a different paper for a change. [p. 22]
Sue Townsend has managed to create one of the most funny and tenderhearted novels. It's no surprise that she was one of England's bestselling writers during the 1980s. Yes, there are many sad moments in The Adrian Mole Diaries (e.g., unemployment in the 1980s, Adrian's parents adultery, the family's constant need for cash), but it takes an exceptionally gifted writer to make such tactful fun out of them.

Read this book if:
  1. You're dying for a laugh.
  2. You love reading other people's diaries.
  3. You can somehow relate to a teenager who thinks the world revolves around him.


ram said...

have to check on it.

Michael Silva said...

This seems interesting. Is this available in our local bookstores? Thanks, Peter!

Peter S. said...

@ram: You'll enjoy this for sure!

@Michael: I bought this at Fully Booked. They still might have copies. You can also buy the first book if you want to gauge first if Townsend's brand of humor is your thing.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

dilemonade???? Oh man.... I was so using that :)

Peter S. said...

Hi, Sheila! For some reason, lemonade doesn't agree with me. :-(

Stepford Mum said...

I loved these in the 80s! Poor Adrian Mole was such a lovable loser. I remember this was when I first found out what being "on the dole" meant. I didn't read beyond these two books though, so maybe I should catch up on his later years!

Peter S. said...

Hello, Stepford Mum! I'm on the lookout for the other books!

blooey said...

Finally found someone else who's read Adrian Mole! (and Iya, too!)

Had an old copy of the first book and read it last year. I was laughing so hard, tears were streaming down my cheeks!

My favorite passage:

“Wednesday, January 14th

Joined the library. Got Care of Skin, Origin of Species, and a book by a woman my mother is always going on about. It is called Pride and Prejudice, by a woman called Jane Austen. I could tell the librarian was impressed. Perhaps she is an intellectual like me. She didn’t look at my spot, so perhaps it is getting smaller. About time!

… None of the teachers in school have noticed that I am an intellectual. They will be sorry when I am famous. There is a new girl in our class. She sits next to me in Geography. She is all right. Her name is Pandora, but she likes being called ‘Box.’ I might fall in love with her. It’s time I fell in love, after all I am 13 3/4 years old.”


Peter S. said...

LOL! That part's a gas, Blooey!