"It's easy to lampoon high school, but to set in motion an intricate and engrossing plot involving elaborate conspiracies, The Catcher in the Rye, "at least half a dozen mysteries, plus dead people, naked people, fake people, teen sex, weird sex, drugs, ESP, Satanism, books, blood, Bubblegum, guitars, monks, faith, love..." is a feat, and it's one Portman engineers with the gleeful flourish of a born storyteller... GRADE: A" — Entertainment Weekly
"There is a lot to love about this book: "King Dork" is smart, funny, occasionally raunchy and refreshingly clear about what it's like to be a geeky guy in high school... Young-adult writing is difficult, but, on his first try, Portman nails it." — San Francisco Chronicle
" In Frank Portman's dazzling debut novel, frustrated song-writer and high school student Tom Henderson finds his dead father's copy of The Catcher in the Rye, and his life changes forever. Part social satire, part mystery, with a healthy dose of rock music (and angst), King Dork is one of our must-read favorites of the year." — Amazon.com editorial review
"A biting and witty high-school satire explores cross-generation mysteries and music. Tom Henderson is used to being a nobody, and entertains himself by designing band names: Baby Batter, Oxford English, Tennis with Guitars. Every year Tom's teachers force him to read CATCHER IN THE RYE, the book that changed their lives. Though Tom scoffs at what he calls "the CATCHER cult," the book is about to change his life, too, if not in Mr. Schtuppe-approved ways. Tom finds his dead father's copy of CATCHER in a box of old books, chock-full of margin notes and mysterious scribbles. Further investigation reveals murder, suicide and illicit sex comprising both current and 40-year-old mysteries. Tom investigates his father's past while forming a real (terrible) band, discovering blow jobs and surviving a skull fracture. He gains personal revelations that both reject and embrace his parents' generation and its Holden Caulfields, in a story richly flavored with 1960s cult novels and 1970s rock-and-roll. The open-ended conclusion is unexpectedly satisfying." — Kirkus, starred review.
"The ironically self-crowned dork narrator is a terrific guide through the scary world of high school..." — E! Online
"Crammed with the entertainingly baroque digressions of an overheated mind, King Dork reads like the diary of the funniest kid in school... Through Tom, Frank Portman brings to life the realities of high school and a dork's triumph through sheer personality. His book is more like The Catcher in the Rye than Tom would ever admit." — MySpace Books
"King Dork ... will appeal only to ... teens with an interest in ... oral sex..." — VOYA
"A funny, intelligent, inspiring, can't-even-put-it-down-when-I-go-to-the-bathroom story. Seriously, I vowed to only write about this well-publicized book after I read it myself, and I'm happy to report that it's worth the hype..." — Whitney Matheson in USA Today's Pop Candy
"...what makes this novel ultimately successful is it doesn't shy away from the real emotions teenagers face. Where a novel like Rainbow Party sensationalized a myth, King Dork personifies a more varied, if difficult truth: High school can be a mine field and those that ultimately succeed outside its walls as adults were frequently the ones sitting in the corner, obsessively reading books and laughing at the absurdity of it all..." — Tod Goldberg, Las Vegas City Life
"This pitch-perfect mixture of "Veronica Mars" and "Freaks and Geeks" exudes realistic, self-aware teen angst on every page, and should be a permanent addition to libraries alongside "Brighton Rock," "A Separate Peace" ... and even "Catcher."" — The Oregonian
"Mr. Portman juggles the romantic sub-plot with enormous skill, and his dry sense of humor is a delight... That kind of wit is definitely too good to be wasted on adults of tender years..." — Clive Davis, Washington Times
"The magic of "King Dork" lies in its cutting satire and narrative voice. It smartly skewers just about every aspect of the educational system. For readers who have suffered through a pep rally, detention or English class, Portman's arrival is cause for regal glee..." — Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Original, heartfelt, and sparkling with wit and intelligence, this debut novel tells the story of a 14-year-old outsider, Tom Henderson. For him, life is a series of humiliations, from the associate principal who mocks him to the popular girls who put him on their Dud list. The teen takes refuge in music, writing songs, and inventing band names with his only friend, Sam. He looks for a copy of The Catcher in the Rye in a box of books left by his father, a detective who died under strange circumstances. Tom sets out to read each volume, decode the secret messages that he finds, and figure out who his father really was. The daily torments of life at Hillmont High School play out brilliantly in ways that are both hilarious and heartbreaking. Sexual references and encounters abound, and the language is frank-oral sex is a frequent topic, as is drug use by teens and adults-but none of it is gratuitous. The plot unfolds at a leisurely pace, with digressions on music, popular culture, high school customs, literary criticism, and general philosophical observations, but Tom is so engaging that most readers won't mind. He's intellectually far above most of his peers but still recognizably a teen in his obsessions. The plot's mysteries come together for a conclusion that is satisfying but doesn't tie up all the loose ends. This dazzling novel will linger long in readers' memories." — Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library, School Library Journal, starred review.
" As a former teenage untouchable who spent her days thinking about little more than what boys liked me and what bands were cool, I found myself silently shouting at the page as Tom battles jock bullies, evil teachers, and-- cruelest of all-- popular bitches inflicting the "Make-out/Fake-out" humiliation technique of pretending to hit on a loser dude for the entertainment of her friends. DON'T WORRY! IT'S GOING TO BE OK! THERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE OUT THERE JUST LIKE YOU! GIRLS, EVEN!" — Pitchfork Media
"A debut novel that's funny, sharp and spot-on at portraying a teen who sees musical stardom as more attainable than scoring with a girl." — Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"Told from the perspective of Tom, a "brainy, freaky, oddball kid who reads too much, [and is] so bright that his genius is sometimes mistaken for just being retarded," this debut novel expresses a cynical view of high-school life and a teen's passion for rock music..." — Publishers Weekly
"Frank Portman's King Dork is the best novel I've ever read about high school. (And it's not just about high school, of course, but that kind of thematic reductionism makes for a snappier open sentence, so.) Kurt Vonnegut said that "high school is closer to the core of the American experience than anything else I can think of," which is true as far as it goes, but I prefer Portman's take, delivered at the beginning of his novel: "High school is the penalty for transgressions yet to be specified." Goddammit, you can say that again. The most shocking thing about King Dork is that it's Portman's debut novel; he writes with a natural grace and a charming, unique sense of humor that most authors never achieve, even after several books..." — Michael Schaub, Bookslut
"Portman, the singer/songwriter and guitarist of San Francisco punk band The Mr. T Experience, makes a brilliant debut in this hilarious, heartbreaking and original coming-of-age novel starring nerd-loser Tom Henderson, dubbed "Chi-Mo" by his bullying peers at Hillmont High School..." — The Buffalo News
"King Dork is the kind of read that can change the world, one pissed off teenager at a time. Here’s hoping Portman will give us more stories like it in the future because God knows we need them -- we need all the good relevant writing we can get." — Colleen Mondor, Bookslut
"A good story, enhanced by its narrator's raunchy and self-deprecating wit, his observant eye and his funny portrayal of a tough time..." — The Arizona Republic
"Part social satire, part mystery, part touching coming-of-age, "King Dork" is infused with humor, philosophy, rock 'n' roll and enough poignancy to make you really care." — Richmond.com
"This debut novel by East Bay punk rocker Dr. Frank has so much going for it that it may be the literary find of the year. First, it is laugh-out-loud, still-chuckling-10-minutes-later funny, the kind of clever, sardonic, intelligent humor that will have your teens calling up their friends to read passages out loud..." — Common Sense Media
"With all that fear and humiliation going around, it's a credit to Portman that King Dork is also one of the funniest books of the year, maybe of any year. Never joke-y or distracting, the humor is a natural extension of Tom's real and unique voice..." — PopMatters
"I haven’t been a teenager since the 70’s, and I found this thoroughly engrossing and entertaining, with believable and empathetic characters, a wicked (and definitely punk rock) sense of humor, and a Byzantine plot that will tickle the fancy of anyone who’s ever lost an afternoon with Harry Potter or Hercule Poirot." — Jim Testa, Jersey Beat
"King Dork is a mystifying, moving, appalling, thought-provoking, sometimes convoluted, funny, and utterly absorbing novel for a reader at any stage of maturation. After all, as long as we live we’re still coming of age, and life remains a bit of a “wince-a-thon” for us all" — InstaMom, Instapundit
"There are many words in the English language but only one that I can think of to describe this book, amazing..." — Flamingnet
"The real magic of King Dork is the clarity with which Portman conjures up life as a bottom-feeder in the high-school ecosystem and the devastating mix of irony, idealism and nihilism in his observations. With more laugh-out-loud moments than the last dozen or so Dave Barry books put together, Portman tears down everything from the futility of the low-expectations education system and the disproportionately high regard of The Catcher in the Rye to the pains of growing up far smarter and cooler than your peers will ever realize..." — Aversion
"A wild, high-decibel, dark and cynical yet frequently double-over-laughing teen anthem of a book about Holden Caufield, teen hormones, bullying, teachers and teaching styles, step-parents, clothing trends, female clique dynamics, the Great Bands (from back during my first extended adolescence), a stack of popular books from the Sixties, and the frequent, utter emptiness that results from coming of age with a flaky mother and without ever being able to once hear from your real dad what it was like for him to go through then what you're going through now..." — Richie's Picks
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"In his book King Dork, Frank Portman takes on the high-school coming-of-age story with enough music what-for to satisfy the most ardent of music snobs. He also cuts to pieces Catcher in the Rye, a job you might not have known needed to be done..." — SF Weekly
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"I underlined the galley copy the publisher sent me like I just became a born again Christian...reading the Bible (new testament) and praising our Lord." — Cherry Bleeds
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