• R.I.P. M.E. Kerr, in Nov. ((YA novelist: "Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack!" 1

    From Lenona@21:1/5 to All on Fri Dec 16 14:32:11 2022

    By Neil Genzlinger
    Published Dec. 11, 2022Updated Dec. 13, 2022

    Marijane Meaker, a versatile and prolific author whose 1952 novel, “Spring Fire,” was among the first lesbian-themed paperback originals and sold so briskly that it jump-started the genre of lesbian pulp fiction, died on Nov. 21 at her home in East
    Hampton, N.Y. She was 95.

    Zoe Kamitses, a longtime friend, said the cause was cardiopulmonary arrest.

    Ms. Meaker wrote dozens of books in multiple genres under multiple pen names. As M.E. Kerr she wrote young adult novels and was regarded as “a pioneer in realistic fiction for teenagers,” as the Young Adult Library Services Association said in
    presenting her with its Margaret A. Edwards Award in 1993.

    As Ann Aldrich, she wrote groundbreaking nonfiction books that chronicled lesbian life in Greenwich Village and beyond — “We Walk Alone” (1955), “We, Too, Must Love” (1958) and others.

    She used Mary James for quirky books aimed at younger children, like “Shoebag” (1990), about a cockroach that turns into a boy. Her books under her own name included “Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950s” (2003), about her two-year relationship with
    the author Patricia Highsmith.

    But the work that put her on the map and may have had as much impact as any of the others was “Spring Fire,” published by Gold Medal Books under the name Vin Packer, which Ms. Meaker later used for a series of suspense novels. The book was about a
    college freshman who falls in love with one of her sorority sisters.

    Ms. Meaker said she had wanted to call the book “Sorority Girl,” but her editor, Dick Carroll, had a different idea.

    “James Michener had just published his book ‘Fires of Spring,’” she said in a 2012 interview with Windy City Times, the L.G.B.T.Q. publication in Chicago. “Dick hoped if we called mine ‘Spring Fire’ the public might confuse it with Michener
    and we’d sell more copies.”

    That ruse may have sold a few books, but far more important was that the novel spoke to a significant segment of women who, in the early 1950s, were not seeing themselves in fiction.

    “‘Spring Fire’ went into 15 printings,” she told The Chicago Tribune in 2003. “They had never seen such mail. We suddenly realized that out there were a lot of women with these feelings who had absolutely no way to express them, deal with them
    or cope.”...

    Last paragraphs:

    ...She retired Packer in 1966 and in 1972, as M.E. Kerr, tried the youth market with “Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack!,” a story about a girl with a weight problem who longs for more attention from her mother, a good Samaritan type who works with drug

    It was well received and was followed by a number of others mixing wit and humor with serious themes. Some had gay characters, but their themes ranged far and wide, including antisemitism, suicide, drugs and more.

    She was drawn to the young adult genre, she told The New York Times in 1974, by the conviction that teenagers were “entitled to honest, up-to-date good stories with characters their own age to relate to — books that are about them and what bothers
    them, not about their parents.”

    She was annoyed, she said, by youth books that were “goody two shoes sagas” or that blamed parents for everything.

    “This is the age when kids are going through great emotional upheavals,” she said. “And they are looking for truths. But until young adult novels started growing up, five years ago or so, they couldn’t find books about themselves, about their
    feelings, their problems.”




    What I posted in 2017:

    One of her more popular books is the 1990 "Deliver Us from Evie."

    "Told by her brother Parr, this is the story of 18-year-old Evie, her Missouri farm family, and the turmoil created by Evie's love for the local banker's daughter."

    (This includes two interviews, photos, a message board, and readers'
    comments on her books.)

    (her awards, bibliography, and more)

    https://theinkbrain.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/highsmith-by-marijane-meaker/ (amazing 2012 blog on Kerr's 2003 memoir and her romance with Patricia Highsmith)

    (some book covers)

    (recent book covers)

    (more covers)

    (Kirkus reviews)

    (reviews of her YA novels)

    https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/431012.Mary_James?from_search=true (reviews of her books for younger children)

    (reviews of her books for adults)

    Under the Vin Packer entry:


    Marijane Meaker (born May 27, 1927) is an American novelist and short story writer in several genres using different pen names. From 1952 to 1969 she wrote twenty mystery and crime novels as Vin Packer, including Spring Fire which is credited with
    launching the genre of lesbian pulp fiction (although few of Packer's books address homosexuality or feature gay characters). Using her own observations of lesbians in the 1950s and 1960s, she wrote a series of nonfiction books as Ann Aldrich from 1955
    to 1972. In 1972 she switched genres and pen names once more to begin writing for young adults, and became quite successful as M.E. Kerr, producing over 20 novels and winning multiple awards, including the American Library Association's lifetime award
    for young-adult literature (Edwards Award). She was described by The New York Times Book Review as "one of the grand masters of young adult fiction." As Mary James, she has written four books for younger children...

    (link is broken)


    "The primary issues Kerr deals with in her books are the
    development and functions of the relationships between her
    characters. The relationships that arise are familial, student-
    teacher, peer/friend and of course, romantic; she often writes of
    first loves in general. The themes that arise in her books are
    serious ones, though not without comic and entertaining aspects. Kerr
    enjoys injecting humor into her writing - an element that is not lost
    on her audience, younger and older. At the same time, her fresh
    perspective is mingled with recurring themes and personalities
    throughout her body of work, resulting in a sense of continuity and
    familiarity for her readers. Tolerance, prejudices, denial and
    acceptance of different kinds of people with different backgrounds,
    beliefs, lifestyles and socio-economic statuses are topics apparent in
    all of her books. Class issues and classism are common underlying
    themes as Kerr often contrasts blue collar, middle class and upper
    class teens and families as well as the attitudes members of each
    class have about others."

    BTW, "Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack!" (Kerr's first book) has a
    deliberately misleading title. Here's a description (no real

    "Tucker Woolf, finds a cat but has to give it away due to his father's
    allergic reaction. He then meets Dinky Hocker, a girl in the
    neighborhood (Brooklyn Heights), when she responds to the sign he puts
    up for his cat asking, "Do you feel unwanted, in the way, and the
    cause of everyone's misery?...If you know how a loser feels and want
    to help, call Main 4-8415. (p. 6)" Tucker gradually gets to know Dinky
    and about her "issues", a main one being that her mother is eager to
    help drug users but ignores Dinky's needs. Dinky copes with neglect by overeating....."

    "If I Love You, Am I Trapped Forever?" was filmed for TV in 1974.

    In chapter 2, handsome, popular high-school jock Alan, who looks down
    on the balding, anti-cliqueish, half-Jewish Duncan Stein (his nickname
    for Stein is "Doomed"), asks Stein to try out for the basketball team.
    When Alan gets a "no," Alan says, out of the blue, that there are
    famous athletes "of the Jewish persuasion" and "that fact shouldn't
    discourage anyone from going out for sports."

    Later, Alan tells the story to his girlfriend Leah and her "militant"
    sister Sophie. The latter reacts harshly. Alan gets angry. Here's what
    follows that:

    (Alan): "The whole point of my story was that I was trying to be very sympathetic with Duncan Stein."

    "I said empathy," Sophie answered. "Not sympathy. There's a

    "He was trying to include Duncan Stein in things," Leah said. "What's
    wrong with that?"

    "The way he did it," Sophie said. "Alan's the type who'd start off a conversation by mentioning Sidney Poitier or Martin Luther King if he
    was talking with a black."

    She was exactly right, but I couldn't see anything wrong with that.

    "What's wrong with that?" Leah said.

    "You don't include somebody by right away alluding to their major
    difference from you," said Sophie. "That's really crude."

    "I don't even understand what you're talking about," Leah said.

    I said I didn't either.

    "Put it this way then," Sophie said. "Suppose I knew what I know about
    Alan, and I'd just met him for the first time. Okay?"

    "Okay," we agreed.

    "Okay," Sophie said. "Then suppose I started off the conversation by
    saying I'd like him to be my friend, because I had other friends whose
    fathers had deserted their mothers before they were born, too."

    "SOPHIE!" Leah protested. "Oh, Sophie," she moaned.

    "Did I make my point?" Sophie asked.

    That's just an example of how Sophie makes her points.

    (end of excerpt)

    In "Linger," (1991) Kerr addresses the Gulf War.
    From School Library Journal
    Grade 7 Up-- Linger is an upscale restaurant owned and run by the
    nearly signorial Ned Dunlinger. The entire Peel family is in his
    employ and, as a result, spend much of their time scrutinizing and
    dissecting his actions. He pampers his wife, intensely grooms his
    daughter for a move into the upper class, and smoothly plots to make
    his establishment the genteel focal point of the community. After a
    bitter quarrel with Dunlinger, Bobby Peel joins the army and finds
    himself in the middle of the Gulf War. Younger brother Gary, 16, has
    to wonder at Bobby's moxie in starting a correspondence with the
    beautiful Lynn Dunlinger, who wouldn't notice him under normal
    circumstances. Gary discovers that Lynn is secretly involved with
    Jules Raleigh, a teacher, part-time piano player at Linger, and
    flagrant war protester. He unwilling finds himself drawn into the
    drama of a father who spies, a daughter who deceives, a teacher who
    fails to measure up, and a brother who returns to a mini-emotional and
    social Armageddon. The Gulf War is painted as horrific, using vivid juxtapositions; the subtle, but also deadly, civilian war centers on
    racial prejudice. Bobby's journal entries and letters are woven so
    smoothly with Gary's observations that readers will really enjoy the
    dramatic tension that is produced. This novel has one heck of a good
    plot, terrific pacing, and searingly realistic characters. It's Kerr
    as readers expect her to be--tough, ironic, and, yet highly
    entertaining. She makes it clear that in a world of hypocrisy,
    prejudice, and brutality, personal integrity can be a proper armor,
    even if it slips a bit. --Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY

    Description of "Deliver Us From Evie" (1994)

    From School Library Journal
    Grade 9 Up-A skilled mechanic and farmer on her family's Missouri
    spread, Evie Burrman, 17, has a streak of blond in her slicked-back
    dark hair, a sign quietly calculated to ward off other people's
    assumptions-for starters, that she'll marry Cord Whittle, and that
    she'll help Dad keep the farm going. Evie's story is affectingly told
    by her younger brother, Parr, who understands as their parents cannot
    that Evie is falling in love, not with Cord Whittle, but with the
    daughter of the man who holds the mortgage on their farm. Parr's
    observations are telling: "You'd say Evie was handsome. You'd say Mom
    was pretty." Meanwhile, Parr falls for a girl whose fundamentalist
    family is fearful of gayness, and tension builds slowly until the
    truth about Evie explodes out of Parr, not just to their parents, but
    to the whole town. This is first-rate storytelling, with Kerr in
    absolute control of the narrative. Evie never seems a victim, nor are
    there villains. With the exception of the rich man who holds the
    Burrman mortgage, all of the characters are likable. All are
    survivors. Among the most convincing lesbian characters in young adult
    fiction, Evie makes a lasting impression, and Parr himself, the loving
    but conflicted brother, is just as finely drawn and memorable.
    Claudia Morrow, Berkeley Public Library, CA

    (about the TV version of "If I Love You, Am I Trapped Forever?" - Denise Nickerson is in it!)

    (4:29 video from 2006)

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  • From Lenona@21:1/5 to All on Wed Dec 21 09:15:01 2022
    Forgot to say that she has five entries in the "Something About the Author" encyclopedia series, plus an entry in volume 29 of the "Children's Literature Review" series.

    With that in mind, she has a good chance of being written commemorated on her centenary in 2027.

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