June 18, 2014
ONE GREAT STORY:
Daniel Keyes, a Novelist of the Mind, Dies at 86 (DANIEL E. SLOTNIK, JUNE 17, 2014, NY Times)
Posted by Orrin Judd at June 18, 2014 6:18 PMThe premise underlying Mr. Keyes's best-known novel struck him while he waited for an elevated train to take him from Brooklyn to New York University in 1945."I thought: My education is driving a wedge between me and the people I love," he wrote in his memoir, "Algernon, Charlie and I" (1999). "And then I wondered: What would happen if it were possible to increase a person's intelligence?"After 15 years that thought grew into the novella "Flowers for Algernon," which was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1959 and won the Hugo Award for best short fiction in 1960.By 1966 Mr. Keyes had expanded the story into a novel with the same title, which tied for the Nebula Award for best novel that year. The film, for which Mr. Robertson won the Academy Award for best actor, was released in 1968."Flowers for Algernon" went on to sell more than five million copies and to become a staple of English classes. It inspired television adaptations, one of which also starred Mr. Robertson, and stage productions, including a musical and a play in Korean. [...]Reviewing the book in The New York Times, Eliot Fremont-Smith called the book's format "a technician's maze, a collection of nasty little challenges for a writer of fiction.""Not every trap is avoided, but the skill shown here is awesome nonetheless," Mr. Fremont-Smith continued. "One might say that Mr. Keyes runs his maze at least as well as Algernon and Charlie run theirs, which is exciting in itself. And affecting, too -- how otherwise explain the tears that come to one's eyes at the novel's end?"