Dan Chaon, You Remind Me of Me, and the teen selects contest

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Yesterday morning, as I finished preparing for my YoungArts master class, I asked readers of this blog to imagine which two teen books these hyper-talented young writers had named as being influential; all other books on their shared lists had been written and published for adults.

Many of you properly guessed The Book Thief, which was not, of course, originally written for teens but was marketed in this country to that age group.  None of you have guessed the second.  Since there is a prize associated with that post, I'm going to wait until I return from Miami to see if any of you might make a right second guess.

Keep thinking.

In the meantime, I have been trying to catch up on some of the adult books the teens referenced.  I'd read many of them previously, but not all. Two days ago, I purchased four and gave myself permission to sit down and read.

First read is a book so long on my list that I am embarrassed that it took a teen to finally nudge me across the threshold.  You Remind Me of Me, a novel told in the cracks between non-chronological time, through the perspective of multiple characters, with language palpable and thrilling, is Dan Chaon's gift to the world—one of many.  It made me wish that I taught fiction at Penn, in addition to memoir, so that I could insist my students read it.  This is the story of two brothers and their search for one another.  This is the story of lonesomeness and homelessness—empty conditions, poor places.  And while there is a sadness in what happens here, there is a greatness, too, and Lord, you know that I love music that sings.  You Remind Me of Me is, from lush end to lush end, a song.
It was like a game of solitaire.  What is a relationship between two people? he thought.  How is it accomplished?  The sun came in through slats on the blinds.  The trailer was full of small thick-bodied gray moths, Millers, they were called, clustered on the windowsills, beating their wings lethargically.  He scooped them up by the handful and put them outside, where they fluttered in the dusty gravel that was his lawn.




4 comments:

reiko rizzuto said...

Will you publish the whole list, or is it already up somewhere? Would love to know what teens are truly reading, and to share it here at Goddard, where we are teaching in the snow.

patti.mallett_pp said...

Beth - My thoughts and prayers will be with you in Miami next week....xo

kelly said...

From my daughters:

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Anne Frank's Diary
The Giver

kelly said...

Oh, and one more guess:

Chill


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