They were nothing towns.
Share via Email From the moment The Chocolate War, a coruscating attack on intimidation and corruption in an American catholic school, was published inthe author Robert Cormier, who has died aged 75, was continually raising the stakes about what could be written about for young readers.
His position was simple: It is the way that the topics are handled that's important, and that applies whether it is a year-old who is reading your book or someone who is Tenderness charted a promiscuous young girl's fixation with a serial killer; The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, set among the terminally ill teenage inmates of an experimental medical institution, was a bleak portrayal of dying despair lit by tiny moments of joy, and his psychological thrillers such as We All Fall Down and I Am Cheese never flinched at the cruelties that humans inflict upon each other.
Not surprisingly, his grim realism and stories that ignored the conventions of the teenage novel by telling it like it really was - with no happy endings and no adults prepared to lend a helping hand - brought him into conflict with parents' groups in the US, who believed that it was unsuitable material for sensitive adolescents.
There were frequent attempts to ban his work in schools and libraries in America. Speaking at a conference on censorship earlier this year, Cormier declared: Tenderness is a very tough book.
But it's written in a minor key. When you're dealing with a serial killer and a sexually precocious girl, it's easy to let the blood flow and the sex roll. The harder part is to contain it and suggest it. So my conscience is clear. As to that sensitive child out there, I know they exist, but maybe a good dose of the truth would be a warning for what's waiting.
You seldom get a censorship attempt from a year-old boy. It's the adults who get upset. The second of eight children, he showed an early flair for writing. He never lived further than three miles from the house where he was born and, for almost 30 years, he worked as a journalist on the local paper, covering everything from the police news to births, deaths and weddings.
It wasn't until he was in his late 40s that he produced his first novel for teenagers. Thereafter, in his 13 books, Leominster became fictionalised as Monument and French Hill as Frenchtown, the latter most memorably in Cormier's last book, Frenchtown Summer, an elegiac account of a paperboy's journey to self-awareness as he walks the streets of his home town 50 years ago.
As in all of Cormier's books there was a darkness lurking beneath the sunlit surface. As Cormier's editor was to note, the book might be hauntingly beautiful, but Cormier still managed to get a dead body into it.
In the strongly autobiographical world of Cormier's novels, that was because there really had been one: One of Cormier's greatest strengths as a writer, besides a rhythmic flow and brilliant use of simile and metaphor, was his ability to take ordinary American suburban life and show it from the perspective of the child who sees all the things that the adults have missed or prefer to ignore.
Cormier's adults are often rather complacent, blissfully unaware of their offsprings angst or the dangers they are facing. The loneliness and sense of being an outsider that Cormier had experienced as a bookish child, who was picked upon in the street, became translated into a series of main characters who were all loners.
Despite this, Cormier, a genial man with a birdlike inquisitiveness, had a long and happy marriage to his wife Connie and raised four children. It was the experiences of one of his teenage sons, who refused as a matter of principle to take part in his school's annual fund-raising sale, that was to inspire The Chocolate War.
When Cormier sent the novel to his agent he was surprised to be informed that he had written a book for teenagers. It was an approach that was to stand him in good stead. I don't think about how old they are. The resulting thousands of calls became his personal hotline to contemporary teenagers.—from The Chocolate War.
Ever since it was first published in , Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War (along with its sequel) has been consistently challenged and criticized by schools, libraries, and parents for its language, sexual content, violence, and bleak message. At the same time, the book was cited as the “Best Young Adult Book” at the National Council of English Teachers convention.
Robert Cormiers other novels include The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, ; Beyond the Chocolate War, ; Fade, ; Other Bells for Us to Ring, ; We All Fall Down, ; Tunes for Bears to Dance To, ; In the Middle of the Night, ; Tenderness, ; Heroes, ; and Frenchtown Summer, /5(7).
Vicious and violent mob cruelty in a boy's prep school is not a new theme but Cormier makes it compellingly immediate in this novel of Trinity High, a boys' day school with the close, concentrated, self-contained atmosphere of a boarding school, temporarily headed by the venomous, manipulating Brother Leon and unofficially run by power-obsessed .
Book: Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War, published March 12, Plot: Behind the scenes at an exclusive prep academy called Trinity, a secret society called The Vigils dominates the students. Books shelved as robert-cormier: The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier, Fade by Robert Cormier, Heroes by Robert Cormier.
From the moment The Chocolate War, a coruscating attack on intimidation and corruption in an American catholic school, was published in , the author Robert Cormier, who has .