The Pigman (by Paul Zindel)

18 09 2013

pigmanThe Catcher in the Rye is often pinned down as one of the early traces of what we now call Young Adult Literature. Not only do lots of contemporary YA writer try to convince you of the importance of this quintessential piece of literature (e.g. it’s more than casually referenced on Frank Portman’s King Dork, and in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and John Green has almost made it his mission to stress its importance. Contemporary coming-of-age owes Salinger lots and lots, there’s no denying this. However, contemporary realistic YA wouldn’t be what it was without Robert Cormier either, and contemporary realistic Middle Grade literature wouldn’t be what it is today if it hadn’t been for Paul Zindel.

In 1968, The Pigman was published for the first time… yes, I am afraid to say it took me this long to discover that gem of a book! I have to thank A.S. King once again, because she’s mentioned the book numerous times. But then again, I grew up with Thea Beckman, Jan Terlouw, Annie M.G. Schmidt, and English children’s fiction only came to me at that age by way of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl… go figure!

What a difference The Pigman is compared to this! And despite the age of the book, it doesn’t feel dated at all… It’s still fresh and the themes are so universal that they will appeal to many contemporary readers, children, middle grades, young adults and adults!

There’s guilt, there’s death, there’s dealing with dysfunctional families. And we get all of this and more in a neat 160-page package, cleverly told in alternating points of view: one boy, John Conlan (a bit of a handsome rascal, who has real issues with authority) and one girl, Lorraine Jensen (the sensitive ánd sensible girl, completely neglected, even abused by her mother, who – in John’s words, needs a good dosage of self-confidence).

This book must have been a hit when it came out – a sign of the times, 1968, for sure but at the same time it completely transcends the era in which it was written.  A true masterpiece!



2 responses

22 12 2013
The year 2013 in reading | Ringo the Cat's Blog

[…] Zindel’s The Pigman: how good is this book! Totally withstands the test of […]

1 06 2014
“Hope, I got it.” – An interview with A.S. King | Ringo the Cat's Blog

[…] old one for me, but I can’t NOT mention it. It’s so brilliant.) At the moment, I am rereading Zindel, as I said, and I’m reading two adult titles. Last January, I read a book called Buzz Aldrin, […]

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