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  • By Jonathan Hale
    Oct 15, 2009
    Cinco Paulʼs My Personal Journal, Annotated 28 years Later heralds the birth of a new genre, the Annotated Personal Journal, the APJ (I donʼt know, are there others out there?). Writers are told by their coaches to make it personal, to cut open a vein. How about cutting open the vein of your younger, unwitting, self? All this personal stuff that the 15 year-old kid intended for no oneʼs eyes but his own, the grown-up decides to share. With snide comments. MPJ Annotated is a funny, engaging and touching shadowing of a dorky (“I just saw Jungle Book for the third time”), bespectacled (“I canʼt stand wearing glasses”), yet confident (“I have a feeling that Iʼm special”) high school sophomore. Heʼs a good student, a great trombone and piano player, and a comedian. And the best part is that despite his apparent confidence, he lacks the guts to ask a girl on a date. We follow Cinco through a couple of crushes (he learns the definition of a crush, as opposed to true love, from Lola Falana... More > on the Merv Griffin show). And the APJ format gives us two perspectives on the tragicomedy: that of the poor kid, and that of the adult whoʼs looking back and rooting for, or at times mocking, the poor kid. Hereʼs a bit from the entry of 10-26-80, with notes (the formatting works better in the book): Well, back to Chris. I noticed she was watching me,1 (two seats behind, across, I was turned around), so I took that point to pretend to clean my glasses (one of my best tricks).2 Then she was really watching me.3 I think Iʼve got her now.4 Thereʼs got to be some way to know her better. I vow Iʼll do it somehow. Homecomingʼs this week, but I donʼt think I can work that fast.5 1 Sure she was. 2 This was something I actually did. If I wanted to show a girl how attractive I could be without my glasses, I would take them off and pretend to clean them. Somehow I imagined girls being blown away by this. They were probably thinking, “Why canʼt that geek keep his glasses clean”? 3 Of course, I couldnʼt see without my glasses, but I got the feeling she was. 4 Cringing... 5 Why not? It only took you two and a half months to call Lisa Kurtz after St. Lukeʼs. Interestingly, toward the end of the journal the kid starts to ask himself why he has such a hard time asking a girl on a date. And he starts to get some insight. The journal is prescient. The young Cinco sees his future, in very specific terms. And the grown-up Cinco, in the notes, tells us that the young Cinco pretty much got it right. Thereʼs something powerful in the idea of a high school sophomore, sitting in his room late at night after practicing the trombone and putting his debate notes together and doing his homework and stressing about girls--who then thinks about his future, and imagines who he will become, and writes it down. As if much of who we are now we owe to the imagination (or lack of it) of our childhood? If just for that, Iʼm going to make my own teenagers read this. My Personal Journal, Annotated 28 Years Later includes misspellings, bad grammar, cockiness, and nastiness, which embarrass the adult annotater, but which make the experience genuine. And, of course, we prefer reading about people with faults. It also contains some real-life triumph and inspiration. And lots of funny stuff. One last quote, from the last page of Cinco's journal: "Finally, I'm sorry I haven't kept my journal [better] because hundreds of tremendous things have happened to me and I'm afraid they all may disappear." Highly Recommended.< Less
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Product Details

March 2, 2009
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
0.49 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
Product ID
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