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Literature / How I Paid for College

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The title's pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin
"The story of how I paid for college begins like life itself — in a pool of water. Not in the primordial ooze from which prehistoric fish first developed arms and crawled into the shore but in a heavily chlorinated pool of water in the backyard of Gloria D'Angelo's split-level ranch in Campton, New Jersey."
Edward Zanni, our narrator, first page
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It's 1983, Wallingford, New Jersey, a sleep bedroom community. Edward Zanni, an seventeen year old aspiring actor, is ready to go to the school of his dreams, Juilliard, after a summer of mischief and creative vandalism. However, after his father, Al, remarries and refuses to pay for his tuition, Edward turns to his lovable group of misfit musical theater friends as they engage in blackmail, forgery, embezzlement and various illegal tactics to raise money for him to pay for college.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is How I Paid For College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theater by Marc Acito. There is also a sequel, Attack of the Theater People.


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This work provides examples of:

  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The list of main characters stays at a fairly reasonable ten or so, but including all the minor named characters that pop up from time to time, this qualifies.
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  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Edward spends a good third of the book unable to have sex with his girlfriend because of this, and ultimately it causes them to break up when she catches on.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Edward does a lot of terrible things if you think about it, but it's okay since he's the hero. He does tend to genuinely feel bad about most of his actions, though this doesn't stop him from doing them.
  • Running Gag: A couple, including the Universally Recognized Sign for X, dressing up as nuns and priests, and people Tempting Fate
  • Sorry to Interrupt: Edward once accidentally walks in on Kelly and Ziba.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Ziba is around six feet tall and towers over everyone except Doug.
  • Tempting Fate: People have a tendency of going 'what could possibly go wrong?' right before they do something risky. How Genre Blind are they!?
  • Unusual Euphemism: Unusual yet hilarious example: Edward refers to Doug's junk as 'love lollipop' once

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