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Walter Kirn:
Thumbsucker
Walter Kirn
  Thumbsucker  
Walter Kirn    
interview

excerpt



  Justin Cobb, the hero of Walter Kirn's new novel, Thumbsucker, is a charming guide through the trials and tribulations of American adolescence and familial dysfunction. A teenager growing up in suburban Minnesota, he develops a series of ever-changing addictions and neuroses after his new-age dentist attempts to cure his predilection for the taste of his thumb. Cough syrup, cigarettes, alcohol, pot, Ritalin--the list is endless. Life at home is no consolation, as his father, a sports-obsessed hunter and flag-waving Reaganite who often refers to his family as "you people," clashes with his son at every turn. We gleefully follow Justin in his attempts to find himself through fly-fishing, the debate team, gainful employment as a gas station attendant, and finally in the Mormon church. Justin successfully engineers his entire family's conversion to Mormonism, but he eventually realizes that not even the sweet-smelling, less-than-virtuous Mormon girls can save Justin from himself and his eccentric family.

In Justin Cobb, Walter Kirn has written one of the most endearing characters to come along in quite some time. Thumbsucker is a fiercely funny chronicle of eighties suburbia and one lovable misfit who grew up within its familiar and confining walls.

In this issue of Bold Type you'll find an interview with Walter Kirn and an excerpt from Thumbsucker.
 
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  Photo of Walter Kirn copyright © Kurt Markus

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