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Fast Times at Ridgemont High

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  420 ratings  ·  51 reviews
This is a true story. In the fall of 1979 Cameron Crowe at 22 years of age walked into the office of Principal William Gray's office and asked permission to attend classes for the full length of the school year to research a book he was to write of his experiences inside the walls of Ridgemont High and Redondo Beach, California. This is the day-by-day journal of horny and ...more
Paperback, 253 pages
Published September 15th 1982 by Fireside (first published 1981)
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sj
Jan 31, 2013 sj rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: yorwtfiw
Originally posted here.

If you're me, you go into a book like Fast Times at Ridgemont High thinking "Awwww, yesssss. I can't wait to see THAT LINE in the original context!"

Because this is a book that (apparently, just like me) you've seen the movie, but have been UNABLE to find a copy to read.

[sidenote: What is up with everything I really want to read being out of print lately? I ONLY HAVE SO MUCH TO SPEND ON BOOKS AND RESELLERS ARE KILLING ME, MAN!]

When I was a senior in high school, I'd just mo
...more
Jeff Bird
I read this book when it first came on the shelves... oh so many years ago. One of the reasons I found "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" so appealing is that I had just moved from California to the midwest US. As I read through the pages of the book, I found that every character I read about could be a match to someone I went to school with back in Southern California. As crazy as some of the characters may seem in the book, don't be so fooled into thinking the author, Cameron Crowe, embellished to ...more
Patrick
It's like watching the movie with lots of deleted scenes. Cameron Crowe, why won't you issue a new printing of this hilarious gem?!
mark monday
that part with the bj was funny. ah, high school.
Tiny Pants
So when I stumbled across this book, I didn't realize that it's pretty rare -- just knew that I had always wanted to read it. No idea why it's out of print, given that a) Cameron Crowe's only gotten more famous b) people have nostalgia for everything from the late 1970s/early 1980s and c) anything with teenagers in it seems to sell.

Anyway. I've always enjoyed this movie, but the book is a tremendous improvement. A few of the characters in the movie's parts are cut down considerably, and/or simp
...more
Christopher Nieman
Still my favorite coming-of-age novel after all these years.

I read this in 1981 at age 15 after reading an extended excerpt in Playboy magazine (yeah, I read Playboy at 15 for the interviews and the book extracts--wink wink). I'll never know exactly why my parents acquired the book--it wasn't a bestseller, to my knowledge, and it was kind of under the radar--but I loved the magazine excerpt, then co-opted the book and read it, and it's been a beloved part of my book collection ever since.

The mov
...more
Heather Hughes
Fast Times at Ridgemont High based on fact was written in 1981 about a stealth adult who infiltrated a notorious high school in the next town over and re-lived high school in the context of the more advanced drug and sex norms. Crowe focuses on the coming of age journeys of 18-year-old Brad and his 15-year-old sister Stacy Hamilton. Brad worked to pay off a car, taking increasingly demeaning jobs. Stacy worked to find validation that she is valuable through sex. There are many side characters wh ...more
Kirsten
This was a great, quick read...and now I know what all my high school babysitters were doing in the early 80s. I think a Fast Times for each decade would be fascinating, but I wonder if any other author could capture Crowe's voice-- a perfect mix of sympathy, bemusement and wry understanding. This is very much ethnographic research; there are no tidy endings or even Crowe's opinions on any of the characters or their actions. This leaves a lot of room for speculation on the reader's part, which i ...more
james
I loved the preface to this book much more than the book itself. It has a great concept - 22 y.o. goes to high school undercover and writes about life there.

Unfortunately, the author does not write from his own perspective. He presents it as objectively as he can. But in the preface he talks about how he befriended these people, how he was part of their group, and how these teenagers changed him. All that is missing from the book itself.

What's in the book itself - starts out with fast times in
...more
Jon
This was a very cool read. It was surprising to see how close the movie hews to the original novel (though perhaps not that surprising, considering how much "good stuff" is in the novel). It was also very interesting to see how prevalent a 22 year old Cameron Crowe's voice was in his early writing; some of the prose is very evocative of dialogue in his later movies.

It would be nice to see Cameron Crowe do more writing of this nature. He has a gift for the written word.
Gary Anthony
I'm of two minds about Cameron Crowe's supposedly 100% true memoir. First, only real life could be so boring. Second, either things didn't really occur as presented in the book or it's a complete fabrication, because there are many inconsistencies throughout the book. For instance, (SPOILER ALERT - although, trust me, I'm saving you several hours of your life you'll never get back) near the end of the book, Mike Damone and Mark Ratner attend the school-sanctioned Senior Night at Disneyland, whic ...more
Stacy Fetters
Cameron Crowe infiltrates a high school in Cali and goes undercover to see what the hell kids are doing.
If you've seen the movie, you've also read the book. It was a hilarious and in your face read. But a little hard to believe that this actually happened.

This was the hardest book to get my hands on. If you can get it, definitely add it to your collection.
Stacie
I am a big fan of the 1980s. Especially 80s movies. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) is one of my favorite movies. When I learned that it was based off of a book, I just had to read it. If I watch a movie that is based off of a book first, I always try to separate the two. The movie is fantastic, and the book is really good too. The thing I like about the book is that you get more information and more context out of it then the movie. However, I do think I like the product of the movie more. ...more
Joanne
One of my favorties movies. Just realized there was a book when browsing around the library.
Similar to the movie with some extras! Enjoyable story story of high life in the late 70's. Short chapters with relative illustrations to the topic.

22 year old Cameron Crowe goes "undercover" to spend a year in a CA high school and then writes this story about "the kids". In the book the characters of Stacy and Damone were a little different than in the movie and I really enjoyed the write up on Grad Nit
...more
Jonathan Schildbach
So, I knew the movie was based on a book by Cameron Crowe, but it never occurred to me to look for the book. My daughter checked it out from the library and I read it when she was done. Having seen the movie numerous times over the decades since its release, it's nearly impossible not to see and hear the characters as they are in the movie. It's fun to read through some of the material that didn't make the movie and to note how the material evolved from novel to screen, but the bulk of the writi ...more
John David
I own an original first edition of this book, and happened to notice it during a recent reorganization.

I first read it many years ago, and will probably read it again soon. Why? Because it was good then, and it is good now.

Very highly recommended for anyone in their late 30s, to early 40s. The characters and situations will ring very true for you. They will resonate within you, and you may tear (as in cry) up a little as you remember the lost days (better days?) of your youth.

It's fun to try t
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Stephanie Baker
I can't believe how similar this is to the movie. I wonder what these people are up to more and if Crowe kept in touch with anyone
Tom
Similar to the film, but also different enough to make it an interesting read.
Jenn
"Awesome, totally awesome." This was the best surprise I got this Christmas.
Jeremiah

I wonder why this book has never been re-released. I was lucky to find an inexpensive copy. I have to say that the book is a much better read than the movie was to watch. The book is a lot broader and makes up for the limitations of a commercial movie with deeper characters and a number of incidents that didn't make it into the screenplay. Having seen the movie first, I still put the actors faces onto the names.

I would be interested in Crowe republishing this book with "where are they now" inte
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TrumanCoyote
If you had tried to pitch me this idea, I would've sworn that there was no way it could've worked; but, by gumbo, Crowe pulls it off, somehow weaving a coordinated affecting tapestry out of the threads of a whole bunch of seemingly unrelated characters and a hodgepodge of situations. The only real problem with the book was the somewhat limp ending, but I suppose that was inevitable given how school years generally do trickle out into summer.
Matt
After years of trying, I finally got my hands on a copy of Crowe's criminally out-of-print "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." (Don't ask me how. I know a guy who knows a guy.)

It's a fast, funny read. Amazing how much of the book ended on screen for the movie -- it's nearly a screenplay. Wish I could have read it back in the day. The shocking young adult behavior seems charming and practically innocent now.
Pops
It was interesting to see how the text was identical to the movie, but the tone was different. The book doesn't seem like a celebratory look at the lives of teenagers. There is an inherent sadness in so many of actions portrayed. The film takes a different tact. Spicoli becomes a stoner messiah in the movie, but in the book he is a lost child clearly looking for peace in a disruptive home life.
Tom Morgan
Enough content different from the movie to make it worth reading but enough in common to make it feel like I've watched the movie for the millionth time. Fun, light, and a product of it's time, just like the film. I'd like to see a where are they now with the people who inspired this book/film.
Stephanie
The book came before the movie, so this is no tie in - Cameron Crowe actually went back to high school undercover so all those characters - Stacy, Rod, Spicoli even Mr Hand were all based on real life kids. The movie was an essential part of my teenage years so the book fit right in.
Steve
I have been looking for a 1st edition of this book for 10 years... Found it finally at Bookman's in Tucson, AZ. It is kind of cool to watch the movie after re-reading this book. The characters have so much more depth. I know I am old now, I understand Mr. Hand's motivation.
Erin
A fun read, pretty similar to the movie. Since I've seen it many times, I actually found the introduction to be the most fascinating part of the book; it would be interesting to know more about Cameron Crowe's own experience posing as a high school student.
David
The movie is a very faithful adaptation of the book. The book is an insightful look inside a high school. The only part that struck me off was he mentioned bumper cars at Disneyland.

Do not bump the drivers of the Autopia car in front of you.
LeeAnne
Jul 30, 2007 LeeAnne rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of the movie
I was amazed at how much movie dialogue comes verbatim from the book. Kids worked hard back then, at crappy jobs, and were quite the wild partiers - just like I remember.

This book should be reissued. Its out of print and thats a shame.
Gretchen
Aug 30, 2007 Gretchen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of the Film
Cameron Crowe's writing style doesn't impress me. At All! Still, it was refreshing to get to know the characters from the movie in new ways... also I got the book as a gift from a dear friend~~ an original paperback! MMMMMhmmmm.
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Cameron Bruce Crowe is an Academy Award winning American writer and film director. Before moving into the film industry, Crowe was contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine, for which he still frequently writes.

Crowe has made his mark with character-driven, personal films that have been generally hailed as refreshingly original and void of cynicism. Michael Walker in the New York Times called
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More about Cameron Crowe...
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