16 May 2007

New YA novel

Here are the first 1,000 words of my new young adult novel, Hipster High:

It's got a really long name, something like Edward Marshall C. Thornberry, but everyone knows it as Hipster High. You have to apply to get into this high school, and it isn't easy. Instead of looking at your grades and community service, or athletics and experience in ROTC or trombone skills, the application asks for a video tape. They want to see your life. In the video you have to show them your house, especially your room. They want to see your music collection - all your CDs, or if you're really hip, your digital music collection on your computer - and then they want to see your closet. Do you have enough thrift store clothes? How about grooming products? Do you have a cool toothbrush? Their test is not of skills but personality. Will you fit in well with other kids who are cool? Most kids who try to fake it, who try to buy The Smiths albums when they really listen to Britney Spears, get caught. They say that over twenty people watch your tape, and each of them look for different things. Was there something peeking out from under your bed, that if you paused the tape, you could see a clue of who you really were? The number of denial letters sent out each year was amazing. It was a form letter - there was no explanation. Of course the tone of the letter was very appreciative, saying things like, "Thank you for applying for our school," and "We appreciate the opportunity to get to know you." Kids who received denial letters often cried. Their parents would hate them for the rest of their life.
This was a good school to get into, especially if their teenage son or daughter was a hipster in the making. Here they would be socially accepted, and properly trained for their adult life as a hipster. They'd get an education no other school could offer. There were also rumors that the teachers were the best in the region, and that a surprising number of students actually went on to be very successful in life, instead of living the facade of a cool hipster life. These former students were the CEOs of mid-size financial companies, art directors of advertising companies, and the painters of a new school of art.
The school was located in a not-so-great part of town, but because of its presence, the neighborhood had improved. There were two Pinkberrys, two Starbucks (one at the north end and one at the south end), and a Zankou Chicken. Of course there was a Taco Bell, but that was there before the school, and it did pretty well without the student population as customers. There were two buses that drove kids in - one from the West side, and one from the East side. Parents were allowed to drop off their children, and few children took public transportation. If a child was accepted into Hipster High, some families would move closer, just to avoid having to commute if they lived hours away. Families were changed if one child made it into the school, and the other didn't. Imagine having an older brother who was accepted, and the amount of pressure a younger brother would have to follow in his footsteps. What if the younger brother wanted to play sports? Hipster High had no athletic team. True, they did have a facility for exercising, a gymnasium, but during physical education classes, most of the kids would smoke or just stand around. They were allowed to do that. There was actually a cigarette vending machine in the boys' locker rooms. Girls had to ask boys to buy them cigarettes, or else go in there themselves. This was usually not a problem, as no boys were changing into their gym clothes.
The kids did learn a lot at Hipster High. They learned lots of facts that they could rattle off at parties, just to impress people with their breadth of knowledge. Their general education didn't requiring reading actual books, instead they could read summaries, and teachers told them the basic themes of all the literature. Their tests were basically regurgitation spoons, where they spat up what they were fed, and teachers marked the spoons with A's, and the occasional + sign if someone's spit-up was actually shiny.
The yearbook for Hipster High was well-designed, usually by a famous graphic designer who was a resident for one year at the school. Everyone had perfectly set hair, even if it was mean to look messy. (The hair class was the most popular class at Hipster High, where you learned different hair styles, and how to use different styling products.)
Hipster High had mostly white students. There was the rumor that they would select a few non-white students each year, just to reflect the adult population of hipsters, with its Asian indie rock girls, and jean jacket wearing black girls. There were practically no Spanish-speaking kids, maybe there was one a few years back, but she probably dropped out. Each year they accepted one student with a British accent. Again, the test to see if your accent was authentic was in place, so that people who faked it were immediately disqualified.
Of course the admission process was really just a mystery to students. They all speculated based on what kids did get accepted, and kids who tried and didn't make the cut. The acceptance letter was a form letter as well, although it had more detail about the next steps for the student.
This was not a free school. Parents had to pay tuition, and this is probably why the school had such a great facility.
When you really were an adolescent hipster in the making, this school worked out perfectly. But again, because of the pressure to get accepted, kids who were not hipsters tried to get into the school all the time. And what if that happened? What if you were a kid whose parents really wanted you to go to this school, and did everything they could to get you into the school? They bought you the wardrobe, the music, hired someone to teach you how to walk? What if you were accepted into this school, and you weren't really a hipster? You were there because your parents made you? That's what this story is about.

3 comments:

Alpha Twin said...

Wow, I'm really REALLY into this. I can't wait to turn the page. It's hilarious, and it's really pulling me in - I want to analyze everyone and get to know them.

I love this line best: Their tests were basically regurgitation spoons, where they spat up what they were fed, and teachers marked the spoons with A's, and the occasional + sign if someone's spit-up was actually shiny.

So fascinating, so funny.

This is really fantastic.

Alpha Twin said...

I've been thinking about Hipster High all day.

I was thinking for exercise, these students would: skateboard, ride their fixed gear bikes w/no helmet, and go for nature walks in the night while tripping on shrooms or X or whatever else the kids use these days.

Do you have characters? I eagerly await meeting them.

Alpha Twin said...

What percentage of graduating seniors go on to get a Ph.D. in Philosophy?

What percentage incur $100,000 in debt from attending an inner-city Art University?

How many commit suicide? Attempt?

If I want to be a teacher at Hipster High, what's the screening process like?

I can't wait for school to start.