Saturday, June 27, 2015

Anthony Breznican

"If you thought high school was hell, has Anthony Breznican got a story for you…," says some guy called Stephen King.

From Breznican's Q & A with Sarah Skilton about his novel, Brutal Youth:

One of my favorite lines in Brutal Youth occurs in chapter two: “Adults never wanted to hear about the heartaches of children. They tended to doubt there was any such thing.” Is that you how you felt when you were a child?

Definitely. Adults often assume any problem a kid has is always fixable. “No big deal. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you.” But really, the troubles we have as kids shape who we are. They harden us. Other times, maybe they make us more empathetic. Sometimes they warp and break us in ways that can never be healed. I’m happy this line stuck out to you, because the final line in the novel is a call-back to this idea. When you tell a kid his or her problems aren’t serious, they decide to hide them and stop trusting you with them.

The line quoted above made me think of Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye (“Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life sized.”), as well as Stephen King’s IT, wherein the longer the characters stay away from Derry, the more they forget about the terrifying experiences they had there as children. Were there any books about bullying that inspired you as you wrote?

It’s not a book about bullying, but my wife is a J.M. Barrie collector and Brutal Youth is haunted by the closing lines of Peter Pan. It ends with Peter never changing, even as Wendy grows old, and her children grow old, and their children. The final line is: “… and thus it will go on, so long as children are gay and innocent and heartless.” Heartless! It’s so chilling. What the hell does that mean? I’m not...[read on]
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--Marshal Zeringue