K.L. Going wrote a book about a 296 lb teenager.
And somehow, I’m not sure why, I became aware for the first time since I was 5 years old- that I was meant to be a writer.
But more on that later.
Right now, Troy Billings is a 296 lb teenager who is about to step off the platform before an oncoming subway train.
He wants to know, will it be funny?
Because there’s something funny about fat people, something unpredictable.
But people shouldn’t laugh, y’know, when you’re trying to commit suicide.
…However, the laughter of a skinny, homeless, high school legend, the psycho Elvis of rock; brings him back to our side of the line- and instead of “messing up” on the subway tracks, Troy finds himself at a diner being served by a waitress with huge breasts, buying lunch for two.
Thus begins the inner dialogue of morbidly miserable teenager who is always aware of everything- his massive physical presence; the constant, but polite, suppressed laughter that both follows and anticipates him; the disappointment and embarrassment he causes his family. Troy Billings is aware of every thought that is directed at him, of every way in which he doesn’t fit.
He is at least partly right.
People do look at him.
But there is something missing.
In all the time he spends in his own mind thinking of all the terrible things people are and must be thinking of him, he forgets about what people are thinking about themselves.
About how people are also desperately trying not to make fools of themselves, to impress, to be beautiful.
On one level this is just another story about friendship. But this story is also about one small moment, one sentence that can forever change a life. It is about words, but the ones that you give away instead of the ones you receive. It is about perceptions, and human emotions, helping people in need, and coming of age; it is pretty frickin’ awesome.
I really do recommend this book. I was apprehensive about reading it just because it didn’t look very good. My copy has obviously not been treated well and has a very unsightly grease stain that has drained into the first few chapters. It’s very punk rock.
I guess I also didn’t want to read a story about a fat kid.
I’m glad that I did though.
In the moment that Troy recognizes how desperately everyone else is trying- it gave me a few moments of peace from all the criticisms I have about myself. And yeah, how Troy feels really resonates with me because I was a superchunk in high school… and sometimes I find myself spiraling back into that mindset.
And what does this have to do with me being a writer?
Pretty much everything.
It’s time to really look at things and see them for what they are.
That’s the only way I’ll be able to ever talk about them.
FAT KID RULES THE WORLD.