If you haven't seen the television show "Gilmore Girls" you are missing on out on some fast talking, diner food eating, book reading goodness. This blog is about celebrating the book reading aspect, but you might also find additional references to "Gilmore Girls" or reading in general throughout. Some awesome soul compiled a list of 349 books read or featured on "Gilmore Girls", and this blog is my attempt to read all of them in two years. Join me for the good, the bad, the oh-my-gosh-i-don't-wanna-read-that, and more. For every book I complete, I will be donating books to children.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Flowers for Algernon

I finished Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes today. I had to just sit for several minutes once I was done. Sigh... I don't know if I should be upset by how the book ends or happy because it was such a good book.

The first edition cover.

Charlie Gordon, the main character, is so human. And, I think that's part of the point. The book is a great study of our intellectual vs emotional vs social development. Seeing the world through Charlie's eyes as he progresses through life after an intelligence altering surgery highlights the fact that not every aspect of who a person is develops at the same time. As the story moves along, Charlie's development is first evident in his vocabulary and spelling (the book is told from his perspective via a series of reports). As he grows intellectually, he slowly begins to develop emotionally and socially, but none of these three aspects of who he is develop at the same speed. In some ways, he moves from being far behind everyone else to far ahead while in other ways he is always behind. What's even more interesting is that Charlie recognizes this fact. Regardless, he is continually striving to understand himself and those around him.

The cover of the version I read.
While I was looking for images and the movie trailer for this post, I read a little bit about what inspired Keyes to write this story. What started as a short story and eventually became a novel was inspired by several incidents in the author's own life. He had conflicts with his parents over pre-medical studies vs being a writer, studied psychoanalysis, and also taught English to special needs students. In one English class, a student asked about being moved to a regular class. Apparently, through several of these experiences, Keyes spent time thinking about the possibilities of artificially enhancing a person's intelligence.

The movie trailer for "Flowers for Algernon" (the trailer says 2013, but the film was made for tv in 2000), starring Matthew Modine, Kelli Williams, Bonnie Bedelia, Ron Rifkin (there is also a version from 1968):

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