Flowers for Algernon

flowers-for-algernon-book

Author Daniel Keyes died last year. He wrote the masterpiece Flowers for Algernon which was first published as a short story in 1959 and later expanded into a novel.

Flowers for Algernon was part of the new wave of psychological science fiction, its story slightly set in the future and eschewing rockets and other planets  instead giving readers an epistolary story presented as the journal of a man with an IQ of 68 before and after an operation to increase his intelligence by three hundred percent.

The book is on the American Library Association’s list of 100 most challenged books, wherein librarians track the efforts of non-readers to prevent children from reading. Labeling the book as “filthy and immoral” is, in fact, a high recommendation, especially to teenagers.

It was required reading when I was in the seventh grade, to the consternation of one classmate who was angry that “They want to make me read a book written by someone who can’t spell.”

The book is actually about self realization and loss.

An interesting note about the story: it was written for Galaxy magazine, but the author refused to change the ending so it appeared instead in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. When revised into a novel it was rejected by many publishers, again because the author refused to change the ending. It has never been out of print since publication.

Over at the podcast Escape Pod, they have an episode featuring a reading of the original 1959 short story. (link)

 

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