"In this funny, bittersweet and brutally honest autobiography, Crutcher recounts his journey from a boyhood misspent in remote Cascade, Idaho, to his present life as a writer," wrote PW in a starred review. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
If you have read any of Crutcher's books, his autobiography won't be too surprising. It will be especially appealing to guys, because it appears to have a ring of truth-covering all those topics from sexual awakening to pranks at home and school. Chris Crutcher writes with flair but the book seems to have been written as separate vignettes, and when compiled, seems repetitive. He admits that he hates revision and that probably accounts for some of the repeated information. We know by the end of the book that he had a very bad temper, that he was called bawlbaby and grew up to be a therapist in the field of child abuse and neglect. His own childhood shows that he suffered at the hands of his mother, but he also greatly admired his older, stronger, sibling. His father was very rigid man and we learn that not only was his mother a heavy smoker but an alcoholic. That Chris Crutcher turned out to be the writer he is will amaze some readers, especially since he cribbed a whole year's worth of homework assignments from his older brother. The antics in high school, his lack of athletic prowess, the crushes and reflection are all on view. It wasn't easy growing up in a small town in Idaho in the 1960s. While I thought some of the stuff was downright stupid, I know there will be plenty of male appeal. My husband laughed himself silly reading the book. The one question that lingered with me was, what about his sister? She never seemed to be a fully developed character. His mother wasn't either, but you did feel like you got know the male characters. Fans will love seeing how incidents in Chris Crutchers' life ended up in his books. Most librarians will need multiple copies, and don't be surprised ifsome parent groups try banning this autobiography. Too bad, because it is interesting to learn more about the man who has written so many highly acclaimed books. 2003, Greenwillow/HarperCollins, Ages 13 up.
Already a favorite with young adults, Crutcher pens an autobiography of his youth that will find an easy audience in a genre that teachers and librarians sometimes find hard to sell. His stories about the anguish that was his childhood are both sad and funny. He suffers from being nearly three years younger than his brother, from living in a small town where invisibility is impossible, and from being totally unathletic in a school where everyone is expected to play. Through a series of vignettes, Crutcher lays bare many painful memories of his childhood, and readers see the source of some of his best stories and characters. His fiery temper, which flares hottest when he is embarrassed, is later exhibited by his characters in Chinese Handcuffs (Greenwillow, 1989/VOYA June 1989), Ironman (1995/VOYA June 1995), and Whale Talk (2001/VOYA June 2001). His experience on his college swim team with a coach who "invites" the team to a week of stamina training over Christmas break forms the framework for his immensely popular Stotan! (1986/VOYA April 1986). His own struggles with organized religion are reflected by many of his characters, as they try to make sense out of chaos. His work as a family therapist helping damaged children and the adults who torment them colors his characters in many ways and gives edge to his themes. In telling his own story, Crutcher entertains readers, challenges them, and touches their hearts. This is a biography that will be read-not skimmed-and loved. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, HarperCollins, 208p,
Chris Crutcher, the renowned author of Chinese Handcuffs and Staying Fat for Sarah Burns (among other award winners), has strung together a set of Christmas lights in his "Ill-Advised Autobiography." In this book, fresh incidents are mingled with favorites that he has included in many of his talks before audiences of young adult literature fans. Crutcher offers a composite of the characters who appear in his fiction. Though he occasionally jumps back and forth chronologically, the style, the sarcasm, the pity, the heart— indeed all the issues that pack his novels—are in this non-fiction book about his very own life. The events he chooses to write about allow the reader to speculate on those he didn't share, though he names name, even unflatteringly, in an effort to explore truth. The book reads fast; it is engaging, and satisfying. The qualities that permeates the book and endears Chris to his fans, is the element that he applies to his hero Michael Jordan, and one he shares with him: humor and humility. 2003, Greenwillow Books, 208 pp.,
Gr 8 Up-For those who want to know the real poop behind this popular author's characters (and, to some extent, his character), this is the book you've been waiting for. The cover photo tells it all: a white picket fence in the background, for all the world as straight and orderly and stereotypically 1950s proper as the author's maddeningly rational father, "Crutch," wanted things to appear. But looming in the foreground is toothy, smiling Chris, the short-fused emotional time bomb who regularly exploded into anger and tears. Protective of his alcoholic mom and at almost constant odds with his strict and demanding dad, Crutcher describes incidents and telling episodes from his formative years. His signature wit was sharpened in response to both his feelings of inadequacy and his competitive nature, honed by participation in high school and college sports. He addresses issues about his use of profanity in his writing for teens. Tough and tender reminiscences focus primarily on family, social, and school conflicts, but lessons derived from his career as a teacher, therapist, and writer are also described. Hyperbole lightens the mood as the author portrays himself as a young crybaby, academic misfit, and athletic klutz, utterly without self-aggrandizement. Abrupt transitions, some convoluted sentences, and nonlinear progression may challenge some readers, but the narrative holds undeniable appeal for the author's fans and demonstrates the power of writing to help both reader and writer heal emotional/psychic wounds.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Telling the story of growing up in a tiny Idaho town, Crutcher relates how "an unusual path leads from my life as a coonskin-cap-wearing, pimply-faced, 123-pound offensive lineman with a string of spectacularly dismal attempts at romance, to a storyteller of modest acclaim." His father was a bomber pilot who had settled into a small-town life of running a wholesale oil and gas business, his mother a ghostly, drinking, chain-smoking presence who died of emphysema. Early scenes read like Gary Paulsen’s Harris and Me (1993) or Jack Gantos’s Jack Henry tales. Now a child-abuse therapist, Crutcher is clear that his awareness of social cruelty began with the adolescent cruelty of high-school life. What might have been just a volume of funny or unsettling anecdotes becomes a candid take on lessons learned, with a clear adult perspective. This is a good read and a deeply moral and philosophical work with important messages about life, death, relativity, heroism, and why bad things sometimes happen to good people. Like Gantos’s Hole in My Life (2002), it tells a strong story to get at strong truths. Essential for the many fans of Crutcher’s work, and new readers will go from here to his fiction. (Nonfiction. YA)