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Literature / Paranoid Park

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Paranoid Park is both a novel by Blake Nelson and an The Film of the Book indie directed by Gus Van Sant. It tells the story of a 16-year-old skateboarder - unnamed in the novel, but given the name Alex for the film - who tries to fit in with the skater crowd and accidentally kills a security guard while trying to board a train. The author has said that the book is a kind of retelling of Crime and Punishment in a young adult fiction setting. The novel and film take place in Portland, Oregon, United States.


  • Adults Are Useless: The only adults featured are either oblivious to Alex's depression, or, in the Detective's case, pretending to care about him to get him to confess.
  • Alpha Bitch: Jennifer.
  • Anachronic Order: Alex tells his story out of order.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Jennifer.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Alex never gets to confess his crime to anyone, and nothing really changes, but he finds a friend in Macy and starts to develop feelings for her.
  • Break the Cutie: Alex.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Alex is a pretty normal kid who probably never did anything worse than drink a few beers in his life, but the one night he decides to venture to Paranoid Park to hang out with the "streeter" kids, he ends up accidentally killing a security guard, promptly fucking up his life for good.
    • Although, technically speaking, he does get away with it
  • The Film of the Book
  • Manipulative Bastard: In the book, the detective lies about his parents getting divorced when he was a kid to earn Alex's trust, which almost works, until Alex finds a "happy anniversary" card in his car.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: One of the biggest complaints about the movie is that the trailer makes it seem as though the movie is going to be a mystery-thriller, but when you actually watch the film it couldn't be any more different.
  • Race Lift: In the book, the detective is Caucasian. In the movie, he's Asian.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: averted; Alex stumbles over his words and does not have a particularly sophisticated vocabulary in his narration, as he says, he "didn't do well in Creative Writing".