Darrin Doyle, Author, "Revenge of the Teacher's Pet

(Someone please submit a real bio) Darrin was the guitar player for King Tammy and other projects which had funny names but no one ever saw (um, like Fatty Two-by-four). He was also an actor in some of the Yer a dope, chris S. video productions. And an all around great guy. My band used to practice at the King Tammy house, so I forever owe these guys my love and respect. Darrin now lives in Kansas with his wife Courtney and his two boys and teaches fiction writing for a university.

Book report by Jeff Till

I picked up Darrin's book after seeing his site listed here. It's about 10 bucks on Amazon and YOU should get it NOW.

While it has little to do with Bryan Charles' book, I have to mention Bryan since he is the OTHER guy from the clique (do you guys prefer 'scene'?) who also wrote a book. Like Bryan's book, it is a sip of a read (i.e., shortish), and takes place in Kalamazoo. Unlike Bryan's book, you'll find little of the nostalgia of being young in Kalamazoo (e.g., that fun of reading about where you've been, like when the news features your street or a magazine reviews your favorite neighborhood restaurant). In "revenge..", Kzoo merely serves as the cold, dirty backdrop that it can only be. (locals will hear mentions of the green top, the raddison, and a few other areas. The only scene connection is breif mention of Bill Clements, although he is errantly described as turning his bass up especially loud to acheive his one-handed technique. Bill probably certainly turned his amp up, but who doesn't?)

The plot of the book surrounds two ugly middle-school teachers whom have an unlikely love affair via marriage. Mr. Portwit is an aging science teacher with sort of brash social tendencies and a semi-autistic love of logic and interspection. He's married to an obese fellow teacher, Mary Ann, whom he has food fetish sex with. Neither of these points are spoilers (but appetizers!).

The characters are all (including the secondary ones) loaded with quirks and idiosynchrasies, similar in fashion to say John Irving, Tom Robbins, Chuck Palhunik, where each foible provides a curio of activity while also representing a themetic output of the character's psyche. This goes doubly for the events of the plot, where unusual actions, habits and memories all serve to entertain with their strangeness while revealing more deeper aspects of the characters' personalities. As a reader, we get to play JV psycho analyst on the characters saying "ah ha, I know what psychological drivers led Mary Ann to keep lists".

This sense of analysis of course is beholden to the reader. Doyle artfully plays out the psychological puzzle, slowly placing peice by peice, revealing the complexity of the picture as he lays out the story. This is the craft of a great writer who is able to artfully lay the story out while letting the reader beleive that they are the ones doing the heavy mental lifting. In fact, I could probably safely bifurcate the valuable/great aspects of this work in two ways: first, Doyle has created a very entertaining set of wierdos that give the reader a strange and unique voyeristic experience unto some miserable folks, and secondly, the slow presentation/revealing of how complex their psyches are.

I can't imagine this ever being filmed. It's scope and compactness/tightness of plot would lend to it, but goodness are the characters ugly. I don't think Brad and Angelina could pull it off. And it couldn't fit in the 'Happiness' vein either, as it resolves nicely. Maybe if Chris Simmons has stil got his camera he could take a whack.

If I had any complaints (and wouldn't that credentialize my book report?) is that Darrin sometimes uses too artful a phrase which reminds the reader that they are reading ("jumped like mercury from the touch of a zippo"). These are rare enough to not warrant serious issue. The other thing is that I thought the title of the book feels trite/campy to me, and might be too 'small' for the work itself.

All in all, I'm greatly impressed with my friend's effort and encourage you all to buy a copy.