Saturday, August 11, 2007

I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier

I worked at Blockbuster for over five years. I know. It’s kind of depressing to think about. But during that time, I contemplated renting I am the Cheese a number of times. It must have been the title that drew me to it – that and the cover, which was a drawing of a young boy on a bike. I never read the back, so I had no clue what it was about. At some point we purged the store of VHS and I am the Cheese was not on the list of movies to order on DVD. It was by no means frequently rented. The other day I found out that it was a book, and decided that I should take a break from Lolita and read it.

I am the Cheese is written almost exclusively in the present tense, much of it first-person. This always takes some getting used to for me. Robert Cormier’s novel begins with a boy, of undetermined age, biking to see his dad. This is no short trip, but one that will cross state lines and no doubt place the boy in some degree of peril. This is where the first-person, present tense really adds to the book. It creates a sense of immediacy, putting the reader in the moment right along with the character.

The second chapter begins with what appears to be a transcript from a recorded interview. After a page or two, it is obvious that the person being interviewed is the boy on the bike, and that the interviews are taking place after the bike trip. The chapters alternate this way throughout the book, allowing the reader to slowly piece together the story and fill in the gaps that Cormier intentionally left blank.

I am the Cheese is relatively short, well-written, and an easy read. It was published back in 1977, winning many prizes and awards. I liked Cormier’s style and am planning on reading other works of his.

Now to track down that VHS.


Christopher said...

This guy's books sound pretty interesting, and pretty heady for children's lit.

Carlton said...

Yeah. I was thinking the same thing. They usually get classified as Young Adult, which is what I am.

Anonymous said...

I am Robert Cormier's biggest fan ever and I can tell you that, sadly, that I am the Cheese movie is terrible. For that matter, every movie ever made from one of his books has turned out to suck.

The sole saving grace of the I am the Cheese movie is that it has a cameo appearance by the Great One himself, playing Amy Hertz's dad.

Carlton said...

I don't think I'll watch it then. Thanks for the heads up, whoever you are.
I assume that by "the Great One himself" you meant Ralph Macchio.

Christopher said...

Is that... a non-poster commenter?

Carlton said...