Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down
by Jeff Kinney

We have grown used to the sight of adults reading books aimed at a younger audience. One critical explanation is that “young adult” writers provide narrative pleasures that so-called mature novelists tend not to. Boring old things like plot, character and (whisper it) jokes. All are present in Double Down, the 11th instalment of Jeff Kinney’s bestselling series for young adults. The joke is that our boring hero, Greg Heffley, is anything but. After a riff turning The Truman Show into The Heffley Show, Greg wonders: “If it’s all fake, the least the people in charge can do is give me some juicier storylines to work with.” His solution: “How about Greg gets a girlfriend?” Or “Greg gets a motorcycle? Or Greg gets a girlfriend and a motor­cycle?” In fact, Greg directs a horror movie, in part to fulfil his parents’ different visions for him. His father wants him to be social; his mother wants him to be creative. She gives him US$20 for a book fair and expects him to buy books. But “when you get the chance to own a giant pencil with googly eyes, though, it’s kind of hard to pass up”. J.M. Coetzee could learn a thing or two.