Ask Me Anything.

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Disclaimer: I am a book elitist. You know one of those obnoxious folks who always thinks the novel is better than the movie. When my friend Allison Burnett decided to turn his coming of age book Undiscovered Gyrl (2009) into a film, I was skeptical.  Could he really stay true to his artistic vision? Would the film live up to the book? And more importantly would this die hard Undiscovered Gyrl fanatic like it.   Guess what? It does and I do.   “Ask Me Anything” is flawless, captivating and poignant. It is every bit as gripping as the novel, no one, not even, Ms. Book Snob herself can accuse Allison of betraying his beloved novel by butchering it when it goes Hollywood.  I’m not ready to turn down my nose just yet though. In fairness, Allison wrote, produced and directed the film. He had full creative control.  In other words, he made his own book and did a darn fine job of it. I was one of the fortunate ones that got to prescreen this extraordinary film and trust me this is a not to be missed.

The story centers on Katie Kampenfel played masterfully and heartbreakingly by Britt Robertson. Robertson gives an empathy generating performance.  Katie is a beautiful, spirited, witty and troubled young woman who has just graduated high school. She decides to take a year off before attending college. She begins her sabbatical by getting a job at a local bookstore working for Glenn Warburg (Martin Sheen). Bored with her college aged boyfriend Rory (Max Carver) she sets her sights on 32-year-old film professor, Dan played by Justin Long.

When she starts an anonymous blog, we get a voyeuristic look into her life and inner most thoughts which are uncensored, hilarious, and gut-wrenching. Things quickly take a dark turn when we learn of Katie’s troubling past with her alcoholic father, played by the rugged Robert Patrick. As the film progresses a dark secret from her childhood comes to light, Dan stops talking her calls, and she finds herself drawn into another toxic relationship with an older man played by Christen Slater.

The movie just like the book will leave you breathless, disturbed, and, dare I say, changed. The acting is exquisite, the cinematography is flawless, and the writing is superb. You will fall in love with Katie and be drawn into the haunting and stirring agonies, the unwonder years-desires, sex, self-destructive behaviors, the the insatiable longing to be loved.   You may even see a little of yourself in Katie. “Ask Me Anything” will resonant and linger long after the closing credits.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the other star of this film, the soundtrack featuring original music by undiscovered female artists all under the age of 21.

The film is set to be release on Dec 19th.

Watch the trailer here.

The Escape of Malcolm Poe by Allison Burnett (Book review)

It had been ages since a novel kept me up all night, glued to the pages, marveling at a witty turn of phrase. Reading The Escape of Malcolm Poe s akin to devouring a spicy gourmet feast of a meal, enticingly good but surprisingly acerbic Allison Burnett paints a colorful yet dark picture of what it means to turn 50. Satirical to his core, Burnett is the God of smartasses and, paradoxically, the king of tender and lyrical prose. He brandishes a sword in one hand at each introduction to a new character while carrying roses in the other. At first you find the protagonist to be an arrogant, self-absorbed little twit, but by the end you discover a tender heart beating wildly under a guise of burlesque. Malcolm Poe is as endearing as he is infuriating. This novel is a visceral lesson in the drudgery, angst and the harrowing emotional transition that often comes with mid-life, a comedy and a tragedy, a book in which Burnett crafted a portrait so real that I sometime forgot I was reading a work of fiction. The Escape of Malcolm Poe is an experiment in literary innovation, flawless prose and delicious angst.

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Allison, Andy and David. “It’s feel like a coming of age”

Shameless plugs. I’ve been informed there will be candy. Three books to add to your shelf or Kindle( but not kindle)

Undiscovered Gyrl
by THE Allison Burnett

Synopsis-

“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.”

Allison Burnet knows how to a craft a story that will stay with you long after you turn the last page. His gift for storytelling and for getting into the mind of a 17 year old girl is remarkable and a bit eerie. You’ll be moved by her depth, her struggles and desire to be loved. You will feel her very being. You will relate to Katie. Hell, you could be Katie. This book will sing to you a heartbreaking, bluesy melody that will linger and wrap around your soul.

Undiscovered Gyrl is not just a voyeuristic look into the mind of a troubled teen. It is a haunting, cautionary tale that will leave you disturbed and changed. It’s about connections and the need to be love. Engrossing, moving, full of angst and humor. Burnett’s language is lyrical and economical. His imagination and creativity knows no bounds. The end of the book is risky, bold, and brave much like it’s heroine and the message she imparts.

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2. Electroboy-A Memoir of Mania
by Andy Behrman (Starbucks addict, Abba dancing, tuna eating, man of the people
)

Synopsis-

Electroboy is an emotionally frenzied memoir that reveals with kaleidoscopic intensity the terrifying world of manic depression. For years Andy Behrman hid his raging mania behind a larger-than-life personality. He sought a high wherever he could find one and changed jobs the way some people change outfits: filmmaker, PR agent, art dealer, stripper-whatever made him feel like a cartoon character, invincible and bright. Misdiagnosed by psychiatrists and psychotherapists for years, his condition exacted a terrible price: out-of-control euphoric highs and tornadolike rages of depression that put his life in jeopardy.”

A mind you won’t forget, a narrative that will linger. A Trifecta of sex, drugs and a bi-polar brain. This book is a stand out in the mental health genre. Andy is a stand out in life. Read the book. Feel the chaos. Be changed.

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Children of the Canyon
by David Kukoff

Synopsis-

“Children of the Canyon tells the story of David, a boy growing up in LA’s fabled Laurel Canyon neighborhood as the 1960s counterculture is coming to an end. David’s record producer father works with the reclusive former leader of a surf music band on an album that promises to elevate the legacies of both men to immortal status. His distant, peripatetic mother rides the waves of activism and feminism in and out of David’s life. The elusive Topanga, named for the city’s last remaining Eden, whom David meets on the beach the night of his parents’ separation continues to elude his futile attempts to reconnect with her throughout the decade. Through David’s eyes, we bear witness to the fallout from the California Dream’s malfunction: the ruined families, failed revolutionaries, curdled musical idealism, and, ultimately, the rise of the conservatism that put the country on its present path.”

COTC is a coming of age book that even J.D. Salinger would endorse. It will speak to the child you were. It’s relatable, real and moving. The themes of abandonment, love, the fragility and resiliency of the human spirit will resonate.

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Get lost in a book today..

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.so, I can have my candy tomorrow.

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