Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nothing's Changed; I Still Love S.E. Hinton

Book Reviewed: Some of Tim's Stories, by S.E. Hinton

If this blog is remembered by anyone for anything in the future, it will probably be for one of three things: trashy book love, an obsession with Neil Gaiman, and an inexplicable love for the young adult writer S.E. Hinton. It's no secret that I love me some Hinton. So imagine my surprise when, bored at work one day, I scrolled through the library catalogue to find she'd written a book in 2007 that I never knew existed. Oops, oversight. Well, I quickly fixed that problem, got a copy, and read it within a couple of hours this last Sunday.

It's a short little thing, and it's more like two books in one. The first half is where the title comes from, a collection of short stories by an external voice named Tim. Tim is Hinton's male alter ego, a novice storyteller basically finding a way to work through his own life in fictional form. I'm not sure this elaborate conceit was needed for what are essentially basic, very Hinton-like stories. This isn't my favorite thing Hinton's done, but that doesn't really bother me. I'll take any excuse to enter Hinton's fictional world that I can get. These stories are meant for adults, but her characters definitely fit the mold of her earlier young adult books: tough lives stuck in friendships and family relationships that run deep but troubled. The stories are almost always bittersweet, and they come with poignant little illustrations that Hinton did herself. Overall, the effect is heavy but personal. We really get a view into the life of the protagonist Mike (and, by extension, his "creator" Tim), and by the end, you can't help but kind of love him and pity him in equal measure. The final story is particularly gut-punching, and I really liked its open ending.

The second half of the book is a series of interviews Hinton did with fellow Oklahoma writer Teresa Miller. I really enjoyed these interviews, which surprised me. Honestly, I usually hate author interviews. I even avoid interviews with writers I love. Writers often come off as pretentious or boring or trying too hard, but Hinton's interviews made me want to drive to her house and share a bottle of wine. She speaks very honestly about being a famous author by the time she was sixteen (when she wrote The Outsiders, her most popular book) and about all the years she just wasn't working on any books. I was pleased to find out that her personal favorite of her books is Tex (me too, S.E.! Tex rocks!), and I thought it was funny how often she mentioned that The Outsiders was too emotionally over-the-top. She seems very comfortable in her own skin, and she seems to just love writing for the pure pleasure of it. It's a very refreshing attitude.

So, as always, S.E. Hinton rules. Seriously, guys. I would probably let her get away with murder.

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