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Fruit
Cover of Fruit
Fruit
A Novel About a Boy and His Nipples
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Thirteen-year-old Peter Paddington is overweight, the subject of his classmates' ridicule, and the victim of too many bad movie-of-the-week storylines. When his nipples begin speaking to him one day...
Thirteen-year-old Peter Paddington is overweight, the subject of his classmates' ridicule, and the victim of too many bad movie-of-the-week storylines. When his nipples begin speaking to him one day...
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Description-

  • Thirteen-year-old Peter Paddington is overweight, the subject of his classmates' ridicule, and the victim of too many bad movie-of-the-week storylines. When his nipples begin speaking to him one day and inform him of their diabolical plan to expose his secret desires, Peter finds himself cornered in a world that seems to have no tolerance for difference. Peter's only solace is "The Bedtime Movies" - perfect-world fantasies that lull him to sleep every night. But when the lines between Peter's fantasies and his reality begin to blur, his hilarious adventures in overeating, family dysfunction, and the terrifying world of sexual awakening really begin.

Excerpts-

  • Fruit

    one

    My name is Peter Paddington. I just started grade 8 at Clarkedale Elementary School. Six days a week, I deliver the Sarnia Observer and the other day, my nipples popped out.

    I’ve always had boobs, but not girl-boobs. More like the “I need to lose weight” kind. I’m not thrilled about them, but they’re pretty easy to hide under my sweatshirts, and it’s not like I ever jog or anything, so they stay in place. Besides, I know I won’t have them for much longer because I’m planning to start my diet any day and be thin and normal by Christmas.

    I know that I’ve got my work cut out for me, because there are lots of things about me that need fixing. For starters, I’m big-boned, which is a nicer way of saying “All my pants have elasticized waistbands.” When I stick my finger into my belly button, it goes just past my second knuckle. That’s my own test to see if I’ve gained weight or not. Last year, my stomach only went to my first knuckle, so I’ve put on a knuckle’s worth of weight this year.

    There are plenty of other things wrong with my body. Last year, I started growing hair on my legs and in my armpits, which was pretty disturbing. I was already having a hard enough time getting over the new hairs around my dink. Before that, I had peach fuzz, which I didn’t mind at all because it was soft and blond, like the hairs inside a corn husk. But then it turned brown and curly and now the hair looks like the stuff that comes out of the tops of corn husks, all dried up and burnt by the sun. I thought about shaving my dink hair off once, but then I read somewhere that if you shave a part of your body, the hair grows back thicker and bushier. And then you’re really in a pickle, because even though you’re shaving like crazy, the hair will keep coming back like an angry weed until one day, you can’t even see your dink anymore. That’s how hairy you’ll be.

    The hair on my legs is softer than the hair around my dink, but it still grosses me out. I wish my legs were bare and tanned, like James MacDonnell’s. He’s adopted and sits two rows over from me. He has a tan the whole year through, even in the wintertime. He must be Mexican. Or maybe Greek. James came to school the other day wearing a pair of navy blue short shorts and I couldn’t stop looking down at his legs. I had to be careful that I didn’t get caught, especially by Brian Cinder. He sits behind James. So I pretended to study the patterns in the linoleum tiles. Was that a cow I saw? And over there, wasn’t that the face of Jesus? I chewed my lower lip to look really convincing.

    Anyways, I couldn’t stop thinking about James’ legs and I was so jealous of them. There he was in his tube socks and short shorts, not even thinking twice about what people thought of his legs. I haven’t worn a pair of shorts since grade 6, mainly because I don’t want to gross anyone out. Maybe my legs wouldn’t look so bad if they were tanned like James’ legs, but then, how are they ever going to get tanned if I never wear shorts? And since I never wear shorts, my legs have pimples on them from rubbing against my pant legs all summer long. So my legs have three strikes against them.

    The only other boy in my class with hairy legs is Andy Dover, but he’s pretty hairy all over. He’s the tallest student in our class, too. Even taller than Mr. Mitchell, our teacher. I wonder if Andy is really thirteen, because he looks older. Sometimes, I think that Andy is a spy investigating our school. Maybe he’s a secret agent and has to prove that the chocolate bar money we raised last year wasn’t for new curtains for the stage. Instead, the money went to Mr. Grey, our principal, so he could buy drugs.

About the Author-

  • Brian Francis has worked as a freelance writer for a variety of magazines and newspapers, including NOW and Xtra. In 2000, he was the recipient of the Emerging Author Award, presented by the Writers’ Union of Canada. He lives in Toronto.

Table of Contents-

  • Acknowledgements Chapter One 1 Chapter Two 19 Chapter Three 37 Chapter Four 61 Chapter Five 89 Chapter Six 105 Chapter Seven 135 Chapter Eight 169 Chapter Nine 195 Chapter Ten 221 Chapter Eleven 235 Chapter Twelve 261

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 12, 2004
    Thirteen-year-old Peter Paddington suffers through a year of eighth grade in this entertaining debut novel, set in Sarnia, Canada, in 1984. In some ways Peter is an average awkward teenager—hair sprouting in unexpected places, a lack of friends, curiosity about religion. But in other ways he's different—he weighs 204 pounds, and swollen nipples ("two small cherries") have just surfaced on his doughy chest. Soon these nipples take on a life of their own, actually speaking to Peter and giving him unsolicited advice. A vividly drawn dysfunctional family fills out the novel's landscape; most of this dysfunction revolves around food and weight and Peter's menopausal, smothering mother, Beth. Peter's long-suffering father, Henry, works a factory job in Chemical Valley, his thin sister Christine does her best not to associate with her family, his sister Nancy dumps her fat boyfriend to discover her "new" self, and his Uncle Ed is an overweight, closeted homosexual. The fluid, lively narrative is punctuated with a series of "Bedtime Movies," fantasies in which Peter is loved, popular and famous, propelled out of his fat, sad existence. Despite its fantastical twists, the novel hews closely to familiar coming-of-age formulas, but its hapless narrator is a winning hero.

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