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Burger Wuss

A comedy of romance and revenge, set in a burger restaurant. Anthony has never been able to stand up for himself — that is, not until his girlfriend is in someone else’s arms. Then Anthony vows revenge and devises a Plan. It begins with getting a job at the fast-food restaurant where his nemesis happens to be a star employee. But when the Plan is finally in place, will Anthony’s hunger for revenge be satisfied? Will he prove he’s not a wuss?

New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age

Kentucky Bluegrass Award Master List

“Anderson’s witty tale of a lovelorn boy and his corporate antagonists is both a tasty read and a stinging satire.” – Publishers Weekly

“A hilarious, hair-raising ride through burgers, bullies, and boy-meets-girl gone bad.” – Amazon.com Teens Top 10

“Savaging young love, male adolescence, and the fast food business. . . . Did somebody say McSatire?” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Give it to teens who enjoy the goofy humor of Pratchett and the ferocious fun of Vonnegut — and be sure to add it to your list of good reads for reluctant readers.” – Booklist

“The life of the fast-food wage-slave is the lot of many teens, but that existence hasn’t gotten its due in young-adult literature–until now…with its fast-paced humor, schlemiel-fights-back theme, and frenetic fast-food atmosphere, this too will sate the reading appetite of hungry YAs.” – The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“That typically teenage rite of passage – donning a silly hat and serving up burgers–gets an absurdist twist in a novel that presents an entertaining… look at love, revenge, and fast food…If you’re seeking larger-than-life characters, quirky dialogue, and frenetic situations, this book will fill the order… and would you like some fries with that?” – The Horn Book


On Burger Wuss

I worked at McDonald’s one summer when I was sixteen. It did not go well. On the first day, I had to go into the women’s bathroom and clean up something that looked like an industrial disaster. To keep people out while I mopped, I put up a sign on the door that said, “Out of McOrder.”

My manager almost fired me right then and there. He said I wasn’t taking the McDonald’s name seriously.

I pointed out that their corporate logo is a clown. Who is friends with a talking hamburger. How seriously do they expect to be taken?

Anyway, only a few of the scenes in the book are taken from life – like the scene in which someone pulls the emergency ring above the fry vat to see what will happen. Most of it was made up. The book is about people taking revenge on each other. It was incredibly fun concocting all of their schemes – all the ways they’re trying to trick each other. And it was fun planting the clues so the reader can guess who’s pulling a fast one on who.

It was an incredible kick to write this book.

A NOTE FOR YOUNG WRITERS: This is the first time I wrote an outline for a book, scene by scene, before I began writing the book itself. Sometimes (as with my book Feed) I’ve written without knowing what is going to happen. Sometimes (as with most of my books) I know some of what happens, but not all of it. In the case of Burger Wuss, I wrote a complete description of every scene’s main events and function. This was great. It meant that when I sat down each day to write, I knew exactly what I had to accomplish – and all I had left to do was make up all the fun stuff: the dialogue, the eccentric characters, the descriptions of settings.

I think making a very specific outline like this works for some kinds of books and not for others. It’s helpful in cases where the book’s action is going to be very exterior, with a lot of complicated plot. It might not be so useful for books that are more interior — studies of character and so on. But every writer and every project is different. Ellen Raskin, for example, wrote her incredible mystery novel The Westing Game without an outline — without even knowing who committed the murder! She just started writing and then figured things out as she went along.

Anyway, in this case, it was really fun to concoct the plot, to write that outline, and then, each day, to write the scene required.

At the time I wrote Burger Wuss, I was studying something called Jacobean revenge tragedy – these crazed, murderous plays written in England around 1600. I thought I’d try to write a revenge tragedy, but set in a burger restaurant. At first, I tried to steal the plot of one of the old plays directly. That didn’t work – too much murder and mayhem – so I made up my own plot. There is still a faint memory of Jacobean revenge tragedy in the novel, however. Many of the characters, for example (Cyril Turner, John Webster, John Fletcher) are named after Renaissance playwrights. And the main character, the revenger, is named Anthony, as he would be in a Jacobean revenge tragedy.

Hope you enjoy the book.