Algernon, Charlie, and I: A Writer's Journey

Overview

In Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes created an unlikely duo-a laboratory mouse and a man-who captured the hearts of millions of readers around the world. Now, in Algernon, Charlie, and I, Keyes reveals his methods of creating fiction as well as the heartbreaks and joys of being published. With admirable insight he shares with readers, writers, teachers, and students the creative life behind his classic novel, included here in its original short-story form.
All those who love ...

See more details below
Paperback (First Harvest Edition)
$15.89
BN.com price
(Save 11%)$17.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (13) from $1.99   
  • New (8) from $12.22   
  • Used (5) from $1.99   
Algernon, Charlie, and I: A Writer's Journey

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.49
BN.com price
(Save 30%)$14.99 List Price

Overview

In Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes created an unlikely duo-a laboratory mouse and a man-who captured the hearts of millions of readers around the world. Now, in Algernon, Charlie, and I, Keyes reveals his methods of creating fiction as well as the heartbreaks and joys of being published. With admirable insight he shares with readers, writers, teachers, and students the creative life behind his classic novel, included here in its original short-story form.
All those who love stories, storytelling, and the remarkable characters of Charlie and Algernon will delight in accompanying their creator on this inspirational voyage of discovery.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR ALGERNON, CHARLIE, AND I

"A fascinating and highly engaging look at the creative process and development of an author . . . An insightful first-person account of the difficulties and joys of the writing life, [and] one of the most useful writers' manuals to be published in a long time." -School Library Journal

School Library Journal
YA-Part autobiography, part writers' manual, this book is a fascinating and highly engaging look at the creative process and development of an author. Beginning with the childhood that provided him with the impetus and material to write, Keyes traces the public and private evolution of his Hugo Award-winning Flowers for Algernon as a novelette, novel, stage adaptation, cinema production, and a made-for-TV movie. He shows how successive drafts enrich a story, and how disappointments like the transfer of the showstopping musical number Tomorrow changed the fortunes of both the stage version of Algernon and the eventual recipient of the song, Annie. This book succeeds as an insightful first-person account of the difficulties and joys of the writing life, and as one of the most useful writers' manuals to be published in a long time.-Sheryl Fowler, Chantilly Regional Library, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Gary K. Wolfe
[Flowers for Algernon] has often been cited as having one of the most perfect and perfectly-controlled narrative arcs in the entire history of the short story, and its career as one of the genre's great multimedia properties is equally impressive; it has been adapted in more ways and over a longer period of time than any other modern SF work...Algernon, Charlie and I makes it clear that Keyes, like vast numbers of his readers, has haunted by Charlie for so long that he needs some kind of closure, if not exorcism. This book may not accomplish that, but it offers a fascinating glimpse into how a lifetime of experiences was distilled into a single classic novella, and along the way offers a substantial number of insights into the craft and art of fiction.
Locus
Internet Bookwatch
In Algernon, Charlie And I: A Writer's Journey, Daniel Keys reveals the life experiences behind his creation of the character Charlie Gordon, a young man whose quest for intelligence and knowledge parallels that of the mouse, Algernon, in his acclaimed novelette "Flowers for Algernon" (which has been optioned and is in production for a CBS made-for-tv movie. Both the novelette version, and the novel that followed, have been widely translated and remain part of many school and college literature course curriculums. Algernon, Charlie And I includes the author's original short novelette version and is a "must" for all Keys fans.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156029995
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/1/2004
  • Edition description: First Harvest Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 650,762
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Keyes (1927 - 2014) was born in Brooklyn, New York, and received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from Brooklyn College. He was the author of eight books, including the classic Flowers for Algernon , first published in 1966, which would go on to sell more than five million copies and inspire the Oscar-winning film Charly . He also worked as a merchant seaman, a fiction editor, a high school teacher, and as a university professor at Ohio University, where he was honored at Professor Emeritus in 2000. He won the Hugo and Nebula awards for his work and was chosen as an Author Emeritus by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2000.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

MY WRITING CELLAR

I NEVER THOUGHT it would happen to me.

When I was very young and very nearsighted-20/400 vision, everything blurred without my eyeglasses-I believed that someday I'd go blind. So I planned ahead. I strove to be neat, a place for everything and everything in its place. I blindfolded myself and practiced retrieving things without seeing, and I was proud that I could find anything quickly in the dark.

I didn't go blind. In fact, with eyeglasses my vision is excellent.

I can still put my hands on most things I possess. Not because I remember where I put them, but because I take the time to put them away carefully, in logical places. I just have to remember where they belong. What's happening to me is something I never considered. I start out to do something, go somewhere, walk into another room to get something, but then I have to pause. What am I looking for? Then it quickly clicks into place. It's momentary but frightening. And I think of Charlie Gordon at the end of Flowers for Algernon, saying, "I remember I did something but I don't remember what."

Why am I thinking of the fictional character I created more than forty years ago? I try to put him out of my mind, but he won't let me.

Charlie is haunting me, and I've got to find out why.

I've decided the only way I can put him to rest is to go back through the maze of time, search for his origins, and exorcise the ghosts of memories past. Perhaps, along the way, I'll also learn when, how, and why I became a writer.

Getting started is the hardest thing. I tell myself, you've got the material. You don't have to make it up-just remember it, shape it. And you don't have to create a fictional narrator's voice the way you did for the story and then the novel. This is you, writing about writing, and remembering the secrets of your own life that became the life of Charlie Gordon.

The opening of the story echoes in my mind: "Dr. Strauss says I shud rite down what I think and evrey thing that happins to me from now on. I dont know why but he says its importint so they will see if they will use me. I hope they use me. Miss Kinnian says maybe they can make me smart. I want to be smart. My name is Charlie Gordon..."

Although the original novelette begins with those words, that's not how it all started. Nor are his final words about putting "flowrs...in the bak yard" the end of his story. I remember clearly where I was the day the ideas that sparked the story first occurred to me.

One crisp April morning in 1945, I climbed the steps to the elevated platform of the Sutter Avenue BMT station in Brownsville, Brooklyn. I'd have a ten- or fifteen-minute wait for the train that would take me to Manhattan, where I would change for the local to the Washington Square branch of New York University.

I recall wondering where I would get the money for the fall semester. My freshman year had used up most of the savings I'd accumulated by working at several jobs, but there wouldn't be enough left to pay for three more years at NYU.

As I took the nickel fare out of my pocket and glanced at it, I remembered my father Willie once admitting to me that when he had been looking for work during the Great Depression, he would walk the ten miles from our two-room apartment, through Brooklyn, and across the Manhattan Bridge each morning and back home each night to save two nickels.

Often, Dad would leave while it was still dark before I awoke, but sometimes I would be up early enough to catch a glimpse of him at the kitchen table, dipping a roll into his coffee. That was his breakfast. For me there was always hot cereal, and sometimes an egg.

Watching him stare into space, I assumed his mind was blank. Now, I realize he was trying to figure out ways to pay our debts. Then he would get up from the table, pat me on the head, tell me to be good in school and study hard. Back then, I thought he was going to his job. I didn't learn until much later that he was ashamed of being out of work.

Maybe this nickel in my hand was one of those he saved.

I dropped it into the slot and pushed through the turnstile. Someday, perhaps I'd retrace his footsteps, walking from Brownsville to Manhattan, to know what it had been like for him. I thought about it, but I never did it.

I think of experiences and images like these as being stored in the root cellar of my mind, hibernating in the dark until they are ready for stories.

Most writers have their own metaphors for stored-away scraps and memories. William Faulkner called his writing place a workshop and referred to his mental storage place as a lumber room, to which he'd go when he needed odds and ends for the fiction he was building.

My mental storage place was in a part of our landlord's cellar, near the coal bin, in the space under the stairs which he allowed my parents to use for storage. Once, when I was big enough to climb down the cellar stairs, I discovered that's where my parents hid my old toys.

I see my brown teddy bear and stuffed giraffe, and Tinkertoy, and Erector set, and tricycle, and roller skates and childhood books-some of them coloring books with line drawings still to fill in with crayons. For me it solved a mystery of toys that vanished when I'd grown tired of them, and others that reappeared in their place.

Even now, I can smell the dank air and the odor of coal in the nearby bin beside the furnace. I see the steel shaft from the coal truck inserted through the cellar window and then, almost immediately, I hear coal clattering down the slide into the coal bin. Our landlord, Mr. Pincus, opens the cast-iron door of the furnace, and stokes it with a poker. I smell wet coal as he shovels it in, and feel heat from the blaze.

Somewhere between the coal bin and the furnace-in the root cellar of my mind-ideas, images, scenes, and dreams wait in the dark until I need them.

Remembering my childhood toy hiding place, as I waited for the train, I thought of my mother and father. I mused over the coincidence that both of their parents-unknown to each other-had made their way across Europe to Canada to New York City. There, Betty and Willie met for the first time. They soon married and had me, their first child, in 1927: the year Lindbergh flew nonstop from New York to Paris, and Al Jolson played the Jazz Singer in the first talking movie.

During those years of hope and excess that later became known as the Jazz Age, my parents, like many other new Americans, went to parties, and danced the Charleston at speakeasies where they could be served illegal gin.

I often wonder what happened to the sepia photograph of my mother, with her bobbed hair and sad dark eyes. I loved to hear her sing popular songs from two-cent lyric sheets and, sometimes, I would sing along with her, our favorite, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."

As a boy, in Quebec, Willie had worked for trappers, and learned to speak English, French, Russian, and enough Canadian Indian phrases to trade furs. Although he and my mother had little formal schooling, it became clear to me early in childhood that they respected education, and demanded that I excel in school.

Yet, in my adolescence, I discovered the more I read and learned, the less I could communicate with them. I was losing them-drifting away into my world of books and stories.

Ever since I was a child, they had decided I would become a doctor. When I asked why, my father answered, "Because a doctor is like God. He cures people and saves lives."

My mother added, "When you were a baby, you had an infected mastoid and double pneumonia. A wonderful doctor saved your life."

My father said, "We want you to cure people and save lives."

I accepted their reasons and their obligation. I would work hard, take part-time jobs to earn money, and go to college and medical school. I would become a doctor. Since I loved my parents, I buried my dream of becoming a writer. I declared pre-med as my major.

Secretly, I wondered if I could become both doctor and writer. I'd read that Somerset Maugham had been educated as a physician and went to sea as a ship's doctor. Chekhov had studied medicine and published his early stories and sketches in journals and papers under the pen name "The Doctor Without Patients." Conan Doyle, unable to support himself as an eye specialist, used his empty consulting room during visiting hours to write the stories of Sherlock Holmes.

An Englishman, a Russian, and a Scotsman had started as physicians and then crossed over into the writing life. By following in their footsteps, perhaps I would be able to fulfill my parents' dream as well as my own.

Almost immediately, I saw the flaw in my solution. Before they became successful authors, all three had failed as doctors.

Copyright © 1999 by Daniel Keyes

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

PART ONE THE MAZE OF TIME
1 My Writing Cellar
2 The White Mouse
3 Second Acting
4 Breaking Dishes
5 I Become Ship's Doctor

PART TWO FROM SHIP TO SHRINK
6 Inkblots
7 The Boy on Book Mountain
8 Silence of the Psychoanalysts
9 First Published Stories
10 Editing Pulps and Writing Comic Books

PART THREE MIND OVER MATTER
11 Looking for Charlie
12 Charlie Finds Me
13 Getting There
14 Rejection and Acceptance

PART FOUR THE ALCHEMY OF WRITING
15 Transformations: From Story to Teleplay to Novel
16 Rejected Again
17 Of Love and Endings
18 We Find a Home

PART FIVE POST-PUBLICATION BLUES
19 "Don't Hide Your Light Under a Bushel"
20 When Are Writers Like Saints?
21 Charly Goes Hollywood
22 Broadway Bound
23 And Then What Happened?

Afterword: My "What Would Happen If...?" Is Happening
Acknowledgments
FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON
Complete original novelette version

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

MY WRITING CELLAR

I NEVER THOUGHT it would happen to me.

When I was very young and very nearsighted-20/400 vision, everything blurred without my eyeglasses-I believed that someday I'd go blind. So I planned ahead. I strove to be neat, a place for everything and everything in its place. I blindfolded myself and practiced retrieving things without seeing, and I was proud that I could find anything quickly in the dark.

I didn't go blind. In fact, with eyeglasses my vision is excellent.

I can still put my hands on most things I possess. Not because I remember where I put them, but because I take the time to put them away carefully, in logical places. I just have to remember where they belong. What's happening to me is something I never considered. I start out to do something, go somewhere, walk into another room to get something, but then I have to pause. What am I looking for? Then it quickly clicks into place. It's momentary but frightening. And I think of Charlie Gordon at the end of Flowers for Algernon, saying, "I remember I did something but I don't remember what."

Why am I thinking of the fictional character I created more than forty years ago? I try to put him out of my mind, but he won't let me.

Charlie is haunting me, and I've got to find out why.

I've decided the only way I can put him to rest is to go back through the maze of time, search for his origins, and exorcise the ghosts of memories past. Perhaps, along the way, I'll also learn when, how, and why I became a writer.

Getting started is the hardest thing. I tell myself, you've got the material. You don't have to make it up-just remember it, shape it. And you don'thave to create a fictional narrator's voice the way you did for the story and then the novel. This is you, writing about writing, and remembering the secrets of your own life that became the life of Charlie Gordon.


The opening of the story echoes in my mind: "Dr. Strauss says I shud rite down what I think and evrey thing that happins to me from now on. I dont know why but he says its importint so they will see if they will use me. I hope they use me. Miss Kinnian says maybe they can make me smart. I want to be smart. My name is Charlie Gordon..."

Although the original novelette begins with those words, that's not how it all started. Nor are his final words about putting "flowrs...in the bak yard" the end of his story. I remember clearly where I was the day the ideas that sparked the story first occurred to me.



One crisp April morning in 1945, I climbed the steps to the elevated platform of the Sutter Avenue BMT station in Brownsville, Brooklyn. I'd have a ten- or fifteen-minute wait for the train that would take me to Manhattan, where I would change for the local to the Washington Square branch of New York University.

I recall wondering where I would get the money for the fall semester. My freshman year had used up most of the savings I'd accumulated by working at several jobs, but there wouldn't be enough left to pay for three more years at NYU.

As I took the nickel fare out of my pocket and glanced at it, I remembered my father Willie once admitting to me that when he had been looking for work during the Great Depression, he would walk the ten miles from our two-room apartment, through Brooklyn, and across the Manhattan Bridge each morning and back home each night to save two nickels.

Often, Dad would leave while it was still dark before I awoke, but sometimes I would be up early enough to catch a glimpse of him at the kitchen table, dipping a roll into his coffee. That was his breakfast. For me there was always hot cereal, and sometimes an egg.

Watching him stare into space, I assumed his mind was blank. Now, I realize he was trying to figure out ways to pay our debts. Then he would get up from the table, pat me on the head, tell me to be good in school and study hard. Back then, I thought he was going to his job. I didn't learn until much later that he was ashamed of being out of work.

Maybe this nickel in my hand was one of those he saved.

I dropped it into the slot and pushed through the turnstile. Someday, perhaps I'd retrace his footsteps, walking from Brownsville to Manhattan, to know what it had been like for him. I thought about it, but I never did it.

I think of experiences and images like these as being stored in the root cellar of my mind, hibernating in the dark until they are ready for stories.

Most writers have their own metaphors for stored-away scraps and memories. William Faulkner called his writing place a workshop and referred to his mental storage place as a lumber room, to which he'd go when he needed odds and ends for the fiction he was building.

My mental storage place was in a part of our landlord's cellar, near the coal bin, in the space under the stairs which he allowed my parents to use for storage. Once, when I was big enough to climb down the cellar stairs, I discovered that's where my parents hid my old toys.

I see my brown teddy bear and stuffed giraffe, and Tinkertoy, and Erector set, and tricycle, and roller skates and childhood books-some of them coloring books with line drawings still to fill in with crayons. For me it solved a mystery of toys that vanished when I'd grown tired of them, and others that reappeared in their place.

Even now, I can smell the dank air and the odor of coal in the nearby bin beside the furnace. I see the steel shaft from the coal truck inserted through the cellar window and then, almost immediately, I hear coal clattering down the slide into the coal bin. Our landlord, Mr. Pincus, opens the cast-iron door of the furnace, and stokes it with a poker. I smell wet coal as he shovels it in, and feel heat from the blaze.

Somewhere between the coal bin and the furnace-in the root cellar of my mind-ideas, images, scenes, and dreams wait in the dark until I need them.



Remembering my childhood toy hiding place, as I waited for the train, I thought of my mother and father. I mused over the coincidence that both of their parents-unknown to each other-had made their way across Europe to Canada to New York City. There, Betty and Willie met for the first time. They soon married and had me, their first child, in 1927: the year Lindbergh flew nonstop from New York to Paris, and Al Jolson played the Jazz Singer in the first talking movie.

During those years of hope and excess that later became known as the Jazz Age, my parents, like many other new Americans, went to parties, and danced the Charleston at speakeasies where they could be served illegal gin.

I often wonder what happened to the sepia photograph of my mother, with her bobbed hair and sad dark eyes. I loved to hear her sing popular songs from two-cent lyric sheets and, sometimes, I would sing along with her, our favorite, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."

As a boy, in Quebec, Willie had worked for trappers, and learned to speak English, French, Russian, and enough Canadian Indian phrases to trade furs. Although he and my mother had little formal schooling, it became clear to me early in childhood that they respected education, and demanded that I excel in school.

Yet, in my adolescence, I discovered the more I read and learned, the less I could communicate with them. I was losing them-drifting away into my world of books and stories.

Ever since I was a child, they had decided I would become a doctor. When I asked why, my father answered, "Because a doctor is like God. He cures people and saves lives."

My mother added, "When you were a baby, you had an infected mastoid and double pneumonia. A wonderful doctor saved your life."

My father said, "We want you to cure people and save lives."

I accepted their reasons and their obligation. I would work hard, take part-time jobs to earn money, and go to college and medical school. I would become a doctor. Since I loved my parents, I buried my dream of becoming a writer. I declared pre-med as my major.

Secretly, I wondered if I could become both doctor and writer. I'd read that Somerset Maugham had been educated as a physician and went to sea as a ship's doctor. Chekhov had studied medicine and published his early stories and sketches in journals and papers under the pen name "The Doctor Without Patients." Conan Doyle, unable to support himself as an eye specialist, used his empty consulting room during visiting hours to write the stories of Sherlock Holmes.

An Englishman, a Russian, and a Scotsman had started as physicians and then crossed over into the writing life. By following in their footsteps, perhaps I would be able to fulfill my parents' dream as well as my own.

Almost immediately, I saw the flaw in my solution. Before they became successful authors, all three had failed as doctors.

Copyright © 1999 by Daniel Keyes

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2011

    highly recommend

    Charlie and Algernon is a good but sad story. The book is about this guy named Charlie Gordon that¿s a little slow in the head and that goes to a special school. He also works at this bakery shop. And then gets chosen to go get a surgery that makes him smart and then falls in love with his teach.
    When Charlie gets the surgery it makes his IQ triple of what it was before. He then meets a mouse named Algernon who had the same surgery and has to race the mouse in a maze and they became friends. His teacher from the special school was the one that was teaching him and he then falls in love with her. But then Algernon started to get dumb and then he died. And after a while Charlie got dumb again and ran away.
    Charlie¿s progress reports, when he stared where really bad with spelling and grammar. Through the process of this experiment his reports got much better. Through the whole thing I think It would have been better if Charlie didn¿t get the surgery because he wouldn¿t have to go through all the things he did.
    Though the story was sad it was still good. My favorite part was when Charlie got smart and he fell in love with his teacher.
    In my opinion I thought Charlie and Algernon was very good story. Just the way the story was told was good. I would highly recommend this for all to read. I hope you liked my summery and thought of the story and I hope you like it to.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2013

    <3

    <3

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2012

    :)

    We read this story in englidh well flowers for algernon but i loved the book. I could not keep my self from readimg ahead. Get the book. This book sounfs good too.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)