- Craig Graziano
The awkwardness, the loneliness, the humiliation and the anxiety...high school has it all for you. This is one of the messages in Larry Doyle’s devilishly witty debut novel I Love You, Beth Cooper. On graduation day, Denis Cooverman makes those five words the basis of his valedictorian speech, declaring his love to that perfect girl that he constantly sat behind…but never actually spoke to.
Sure, she was the head cheerleader and he was the debate team captain. And sure, she hung out with a posse of foxy young women while he spent his high school years with his obsessively movie-quoting buddy Richard Munsch. And it's an absolute fact that Denis cannot hold a conversation without constantly peppering it with random bits of inane knowledge. But after high school, none of that should matter anymore...right?
What Denis doesn't know is that this one little sentence will lead him to a fair amount of embarrassment, a dozen or so criminal acts, several attempts on his life by Beth's Army boyfriend, and maybe the realization that his one true love is a bit more complicated (and dangerous) than he expected.
Larry Doyle's writing style is dense in terms of the sheer number of jokes and pop culture references he inserts into the narrative. It's no wonder that he used to be a writer for the Simpsons. Like that show, he is able to seamlessly blend satire with an emotional storyline. The book also owes much of its existence to R-rated teen comedies of the 80's and 90's. Be warned that it uses both sex and drug use for comedic effect, so it is not for everyone. Otherwise, I Love You, Beth Cooper's clever dialogue, heartfelt exchanges, and breakneck pace just might win you over too.