By Frank Portman
King Dork is Frank Portman’s first novel. Frank Portman, also known as Dr. Frank, is the lead singer of San Francisco based rock band, The Mr. T Experience (MTX). Frank Portman writes this book through the perspective of high school sophomore, Tom Henderson. This book follows Tom through his first high school party, the painful embarrassment of P.E. classes, and his first, rather risqué encounter with the opposite sex. Tom is constantly getting beat up, bullied, and is subject to countless jokes at his expense. Tom is creative, witty, sarcastic, and bright. When Tom discovers his fathers old collection of books, he gets tangled up in a series of mysteries, including a murder case, and the mystery of what his father was like as a kid. With his only friend, Sam, Tom discusses and creates rock bands, solves mysteries, and delves deep into the world of high school. Portman uses J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in The Rye as a comparison for Tom and his life. This book satirizes the culture that is obsession with The Catcher in The Rye, pointing out that everyone falls in love with this character that is crude, snobby and rich. He points out the flaws of a society where people idolize someone who has accomplished nothing, and then turns around and preaches to work hard and become successful.
This was a difficult book to put down. Portman did a wonderful job in getting the reader to relate to his main character, Tom. He added puzzles and mysteries that made me want to keep reading, but were never too over the top. Rather than feeling sorry for Tom, the reader feels a certain connection. Portman portrays him as way cooler than the “Normal Psychotic people” as Tom calls them, and often times the reader finds they would rather be friends with Tom than join in jokes at his expense. The painful experiences that Tom is forced to endure throughout his sophomore year seem like they would be disturbing, but with Tom’s sarcastic narration, the reader is able to laugh along with Tom. Not only is this book a great read, but it also helps the reader realize more about who they really are. It asks whether one falls for the Holden Caulfield obsessed society, or if they question authority and choose their own path.
Why is this book “dangerous?”:
This book was never formally banned from bookstores or most libraries, but many public schools did not allow it in their libraries, and most parents would probably protest their children reading it. This book shows how cruel kids in high school can be, it contains sexually explicit scenes, and teen partying. There are many references to drug and alcohol use, and it questions the curriculum of many schools. The fact that this book satirizes an entire culture that is so prevalent in schools (Holden Caulfield idolizers) is enough to make most school authorities angry. When Portman adds references to marijuana, alcohol, “psychotic normal people”, and blow jobs, the book crosses the line and becomes offensive to some. Though this book is far from dangerous, many schools, and parents would like to keep their children sheltered from so much of what is discussed in this book.