One spring break in 1959, Professor Glendon Swarthout took off with a bunch of his English Honors students from Michigan State University as they motored south from the winters' chill to the beaches of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to soak up some sun, sand, suds, and sex. What he found there during two weeks of "research" became the basis of one of the funniest collegiate novels of all time. But let's leave it to the narrator, Merritt, who describes herself as five feet nine in heels, weighing in at 136 lbs. "My ...
One spring break in 1959, Professor Glendon Swarthout took off with a bunch of his English Honors students from Michigan State University as they motored south from the winters' chill to the beaches of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to soak up some sun, sand, suds, and sex. What he found there during two weeks of "research" became the basis of one of the funniest collegiate novels of all time. But let's leave it to the narrator, Merritt, who describes herself as five feet nine in heels, weighing in at 136 lbs. "My statistics are 37-28-38. I wear an eight and a half B shoe. I may not be feminine but I am damn ample. We all are. It is ridiculous nowadays for girls to be seductive. Companies go on about advertising creams and mists and gossamer underthings when what we should really be in the market for is stuff like electric razors and Charles Atlas courses and jock straps, etc."
Merritt further describes what her book is about -- "Why do they (college kids)come to Florida? Physically to get a tan. Also, they are pooped. Many have mono. Psychologically, to get away. And besides, what else is there to do except go home for spring break and further foul up the parent-child relationship? Biologically, they come to Florida to check the talent. You've seen those movie travelogues of the beaches on the Pribilof Islands where the seals tool in once a year to pair off and reproduce. The beach at Lauderdale has a similar function. Not that reproduction occurs, of course, but when you attract thousands of kids to one place there is apt to be a smattering of sexual activity."
Where The Boys Are was much more than a novel, it became a national phenomenon! This NY Times bestseller, which was well-reviewed in almost every national publication, who then sent reporters down to south Florida the next spring to cover this annual college pilgrimage and beach bash they'd somehow overlooked, including the riots which occurred in spring of '61 in Lauderdale. MGM quickly snapped up the film rights and turned this college tale into the biggest grossing, low-budget film in the fabled history of that studio. The title Where The Boys Are moved into the national lelxicon; Connie Francis' theme song became her biggest selling record ever; and the novel and film became the grandmother of all the week-long MTV Live Spring Breaks to follow. Countless college kids have gone on spring break to Mexico, the Colorado River, south Padre Island, Bermuda and islands of the Caribbean, but south Florida and especially Ft. Lauderdale are the granddaddies of spring breaks they all remember from a few spring weeks of their misspent youth! Where the Boys Are in both the famous novel and film is the touchstone of that fun occasion for many, many college kids across America and should surely be in your entertainment collection as a keepsake of those sunny, beery days of yesteryear.
Here's few more great book reviews....
"Swarthout's mastery of contemporary college argot is complete,and he apparently knows what students today think and feel. This quite possibly will be the funniest new book by an American this year. In fact, Swarthout may be the long sought new American major humorist. Like most major humorists he has a sense of social satire."
Kansas City Star
"Where The Boys Are is a savage, brilliant, screaming funny satire."
Diana Gillon, Sunday Times of London
"This brilliantly funny book is not recommended to lover of Florida, parents of college-age daughters, devotees of conservative prose style and Yale men. But everyone else will enjoy it. Do you recall Margaret Mead's famous anthropological study, Coming of Age In Samoa? Well, this is Coming of Age in Florida -- with complex initiation rites, cermonial costumes, nocturnal festivals, fertility dances and all. The important difference is that Florida is far funnier than Samoa."
Huntington, West Virginia Herald-Advertiser
- Bob Powers
"The author of the serious They Came To Cordura has written a funny, shocking, weirdly different novel that mirrors with devastating accuracy the thinking and mores of this younger generation...Swarthout's prose is fantastically readable. He has people doing oddball things, spouting ridiculous beliefs, engaging in immoral frivolities, but the reader is caught up in the excitement, loving every word, every situation, every delicious piece of dialogue."
- anonymous anonymous
"The girl narrator of Swarthout's story is a sensitive and knowing, if highly unstrung, young woman, and this story is a striking one."
Glendon Swarthout was twice nominated by his publishers for the Pulitzer Prize in American fiction, for the first Western novel about the Pershing Expedition into Mexico in 1916, They Came To Cordura (Random House, 1959), and by Doubleday for Bless the Beasts & Children (1970), one of the first novels about animal rights, concerning the annual Arizona state-sponsored buffalo hunt and a bunch of teenaged boys at an Prescott summer camp who attempt to stop this slaughter. Both novels were filmed.
Glendon grew up in Michigan and received his B.A. in English from the University of Michigan, and later his Master's degree and doctorate in Victorian Literature from Michigan State University. It was while teaching freshman Honors English at MSU that he had the inspiration to go to spring break in Ft. Lauderdale with some of his students to do "research." Glendon wrote a really wide range of stories, from tragedies (Bless the Beasts) to comedies (Pinch Me) to mystery thrillers (Skeletons) and Westerns (The Homesman), and also wrote 6 novellas for teenagers with his wife, Kathryn. Dr. Swarthout's best-known title, however, is The Shootist, which became John Wayne's final film in 1976 and one of the Duke's very best. Glendon won 2 Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America, as well as their Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement and is now in Western Writers' Hall of Fame. 8 films have been made from Glendon's stories and others optioned, an amazingly high batting average in Hollywood for an author of only 24 books of fiction in total. More about the Swarthout family of writers and these 8 films with movie stills from them is on our literary website, www.glendonswarthout.com