Monday, November 5, 2018
Book Review: 'Confessions of a Good Kid' by William Fogg
‘Mad Magazine was also a significant contributor to my cultural awareness.’
William Fogg makes his literary debut with CONFESSIONS OF A GOOD KID, a memoir of this very talented man’s younger years. William is a brilliant artist, having earned his BFA and MFA degrees in illustration, fine arts and painting from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and his drawing and portraits have been exhibited and collected in galleries and museums across the United States. His art works have been featured in The Los Angeles Times, Re-Presenting Representation, Adam, The Male Figure in Art, American Splendor and he has taught in art schools in Los Angeles, Switzerland, Turkey and Colombia. Though this is his first novel his articles have appeared in such publications as Outré Magazine, Filmfax, and his illustration have been featured in three art books.
Coming of age books are a perennial favorite with readers – To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, A Separate Peace, Kite Runner to name a few. Now William enters that league with a very fine book that captures the post war era of the 60s and 70s – especially in his home state of California.
William has provided a fine synopsis that details the progress of his youth – ‘An amusing yet poignant memoir of mischief in post war Southern California. This book details the escapades of a boy and his companions as they explore their sprawling suburban neighborhood without adult supervision, and engage in ridiculous acts of rebellion and sabotage against parents, teachers, coaches, and the grownup world in general. An affectionate portrait of middle class American childhood in the days before smart phones, video games, and social paranoia changed everything. From the early days of TV and rock and roll, through dinosaurs, monster movies, riots, firecrackers, and cherry bombs, to Beatlemania, hippies, drugs, and the counterculture, our hero encounters heartbreak, heroism, and hilarity as he pits his wits against the stacked deck of conservative authority. Is he a "good kid?"
But just as with his art work the true appreciation of his technique of writing is what places his book in such fine company. For example, opening the book we read ‘When I was a baby, I swallowed a cigarette butt. My parents called the doctor, and were told to have me drink warm salt water to induce vomiting. The anticipated a struggle, but I surprised them by ingesting water without resistance. I further surprised them by refusing to vomit. They called the doctor again, this time being told not to worry, that things would take care of themselves. The then had to endure several hours of anxiety and frustration, waiting and wondering if their brand new child had sustained any damage. They were relieved when it was finally evident that I was unscathed, but also resentful that I had put them through such an ordeal. My mom told me this story when I was a teenager, making the point that, although sometimes amusing, my behavior was often “difficult”.’
That flavor pervades this fine novel, and just as William has become a respected and significant visual artist, he now seems to be joining the ranks of his peers who create books that belong to all of us – our lives, our memories, and our growth. Excellent book!
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.