Book Review: I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I want to be your Class President - by Josh Lieb
I recently finished reading one of the oddest books, I have ever read... I am a GENIUS of UNSPEAKABLE EVIL and I want to be your CLASS PRESIDENT. This quirky and original tale by Josh Lieb (executive producer of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) keeps the wheels turning, and the pages as well, from start to finish.
It is the tale of young Oliver Watson, of Omaha, Nebraska. Oliver, a middle school student, struggles with his image as a slow, overweight, dork-ish boy.
He loves grilled cheese, his Mom, and his dog, Lollipop. He hates his "Daddy" (his self-proclaimed "arch-enemy"); and in order to ruin his father's most pleasant teen-aged memories of being Class President, Oliver decides to win his own school election.
At this point, the half dysfunctional/half average layers are stripped away and we learn that Oliver has a lot more to be concerned with. Not only does he want to win the role of eight grade class president, he has designs on world domination. He is secretly, afterall, the 3rd richest person in the world.
As this story unfolds, we learn more about Oliver's everyday life as a general dweeb at his middle school and about his secret, underground empire. For the first few chapters, I was honestly.... confused. I wasn't sure if I loved the book, or hated it. It was certainly off-kilter, much like the majority of the characters we meet inside its colorful red, white and blue covers. But, even as I exclaimed to my husband "so WEIRD! this book is just SO weird!", I couldn't stop turning the pages. By the time I finished my first night of reading, I was hooked. I had to learn more about Randy Sparks, "the most pathetic boy in school"; Tatiana, "the meanest girl in school", Mr. Moorehead, the struggling, if passionate, English teacher who starts living his life based on secret messages typed on the papers of his cigarettes (placed there by Oliver's minions, of course.) I wanted to see if Principal Pinckney, would ever get his coveted, rare Boba Fett action figure and if the African dictator who currently owns it would have his revenge. And, as daft as I find the concept... I really wanted to know whether or not Oliver would win his election.
The off-beat humor in this book had me laughing my way through each chapter, and, despite his obvious short-comings and his purely evil schemes to rule the world, I found something so very universal and basic about Oliver that I actually started rooting for him. Halfway through the book we begin to wonder... is Oliver really looking to crush his father, or simply to find acceptance? The book itself is remarkably insightful, and peppered with humorous anecdotes, gutter-themed one-liners and even nuggets of wisdom, like my personal favorite below:
"Important days don't look like anything special when they start. Invariably, the sun rises and people wake up. Coffee is swilled and eggs are swallowed. Everybody goes about the business of acting like their lives matter and then, no matter how important the events of the day end up being, the sun invariably sets. The sun rose before the soldiers stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day, and the sun set after Archduke Franz Ferdinand was killed. Sunrises and sunsets are real jerks about putting things in perspective."
[I might even make that last line a tshirt.]
Jon Stewart says about the book: "If War and Peace had a baby with The Breakfast Club and then left the baby to be raised by wolves, this book would be the result. I loved it."
Judd Apatow says about the author: "Josh Lieb is on one of the great brave journeys in American literature. Or maybe he just signed my name to a blurb he wrote. Either way, you have to admit he's brave. And the book is hilarious."
And, I say: "Read this book. Go click the Amazon links, and purchase it immediately. You won't be sorry. (Although, you may be sorry if you don't... Oliver Watson's mercenaries may be waiting for you later.)"