Nick Twisp started out an honor student and ended up a fugitive. Youth in Revolt is the three-volume journal of Nick Twisp, California's most precocious diarist, whose ongoing struggles to make sense out of high school, deal with his divorced parents, and lose his virginity result in his transformation from an unassuming fourteen-year-old to a modern youth in open revolt. As his family splinters, worlds collide, and the police block all routes out of town, Nick must cope with economic deprivation, homelessness, the gulag of the public schools, a competitive Type-A father, murderous canines (in triplicate), and an inconvenient hair trigger on his erectile response, all while vying ardently for the affections of the beauteous Sheeni Saunders, teenage goddess and ultimate intellectual goad. He's smart, he's horny, he's resourceful, and he's on the loose.
Debuting with this rambling, logorrheic, self-indulgent trilogy of comic novels collected in one volume, Payne covers six hectic months in the life of 14-year-old Oakland native Nick Twisp. Youth in Revolt , the first installment, chronicles Nick's transformation from a computer-hacking, book-reading teen into a rebel with a libidinous cause: the winning of Sheeni Saunders, a girl he meets while on vacation. Youth in Bondage finds Nick stuck in Sheeni's hometown of Ukiah, Calif. She has gone away to school in Santa Cruz (with her boyfriend), and Nick must live with his penny-pinching father, who treats him like an indentured servant. Nick relies increasingly on his tough alter ego, Francois Dillinger, creating a fantasy life that is the trilogy's main strength, far less tiresome than the forced humor that mars most of Nick's bizarre adventures. When the FBI turns up in Ukiah--they are on Nick's trail for a fire he accidentally set in downtown Berkeley--he flees to L.A. Youth in Exile eventually takes him back to Ukiah, disguised as a girl and re-enrolled at the local high school, where he fends off passes from undiscerning boys while plotting to get Sheeni back. The long-delayed resolution to this tedious effort fulfills every teen fantasy from great sex to independent wealth. Author tour. ( June )