New Nonfiction: Whipping Boy – Allen Kurzweil

Kurzweil has written fiction for both adults and children. A Case of Curiosities is perhaps his best-known book–a richly textured, wildly inventive bestseller set during the French Revolution.

But none of the inventions in his fiction can trump this “investigative memoir” about his 40-year-search for the boarding school bully named Cesar Augusto (totally true!) who abused and terrorized Kurzweil—and who turned out to be a world-class criminal and huckster.

As the editor says, the book is “born of trauma and nourished by obsession, a taut crime procedural, revenge thriller, and quest tale unlike anything Kurzweil could have cooked up as a novelist.”

I would add that one of the real pleasures of the read is an antic tone capturing the mad, often comic nature of obsession. The vividness of the read is bolstered by a visual trail of breadcrumbs from Kurzweil’s four decades manhunt; photos, maps, mugshots and legal documents illustrate the book throughout.

A New Yorker first serial appeared in November 2014. Upcoming coverage includes a WSJ interview, an NPR Weekend Edition interview and reviews in USA Today, the Chicago Tribune and the Boston Globe.

Childhood trauma fuels an adult obsession and an exploration of a flamboyant criminal caper…. Kurzweil crafts an entertaining, sharply reported picaresque centering on the colorful leaders of the scam, who bamboozled their marks by posing as monocled European aristocrats and produced a fake deed from the fictional King of Mombessa, and on the investigators who caught them….[A] comic-opera true crime saga that’s ripe with hilarious humbuggery.”
Publishers Weekly

Whipping Boy reads like a European version of American Hustle…Full of intrigue and suspense, the story follows the bizarre twists and turns of one man’s journey to find and confront his childhood tormentor-ready-made for a film treatment.”
   — Kirkus Reviews

Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully (9780062269485) by Allen Kurzweil. $27.99 hardcover. 1/20/15 on sale.

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