Sunday, March 2, 2008

Revisiting the Outsiders

I was on one of the messages boards I frequent last week and someone posted a single phrase - "stay golden, Ponyboy". That's all it took to remember the novel the Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

Written in 1967, I recall reading this book for the first time back in either 8th or 9th grade. That would have been around 1978 or 1979, when I was just younger the protagonist of the tale. Since it had been that long, I decided to check out the book at the local library to give it a read again.

It was a quick read - only 180 pages. I found I remembered some of it but not all of it. Hmmm...maybe it didn't make as much of an impression on me as I first thought. I know we read the follow up book in school as well - That Was Then, This Is Now. I'm waiting for that one to get back checked in so I can reread that as well.

Things I didn't recall or that I just learned about the book...

1) S.E. Hinton was a female writer (okay, maybe I knew that once but I did forget it). It certainly explains a lot - like the way she has the narrator (Ponyboy) describing the other boys in the gang. Those description certainly should have tipped me off because no fifteen year old boy describes their peers in such a way.

2) She wrote the book when she was in high school, about events and such in the neighborhood she grew up. I find that pretty cool - because as a teen I wanted to be a writer too. Never got that far. I had one sci-fi story I wrote that I submitted to the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I still have a copy of the story and, I believe, the rejection letter I got. Ah well.

3) I probably had forgotten it was written in 1967. I realized a number of books we read in our teens in school were written in the late 60's and early 70's. I have to give kudos to our teachers for having the foresight to stay so current on reading lists.

4) I actually don't think I've ever seen the movie that stars Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, C. Thomas Howell, Emilio Estevez and Ralph Macchio. This was before most of these folks became big stars. It might be interesting to hunt that down at the local Blockbuster.


Anonymous said...


I have a copy of the book hiding somewhere... got it through a book club in sixth grade.

I've seen the movie and it's all right... a lot of material in the book got cut out and it tends to revolve around the situation in which Johnny kills Bob and he and Ponyboy run away, as well as how Dallas fit into everything. The relationship between Ponyboy, Soda and Darry tends to get glossed over, though.

There was also a TV series called The Outsiders, based loosely on the book, that aired on Fox for a brief period when that network was just starting. I only saw two episodes and I think it only lasted for six before being cancelled.

Michael O'Connell said...

Me, I never read the book (but thanks for reminding me I always mean to), but I did seem the movie. And all through high school, it was an ongoing joke for all of us, when trying to accomplish something, to impersonate Matt Dillon and say, "Let's do it for JOHNNY, man. Let's do it for JOHNNY!" If you see the film, you'll get it.

Martin Maenza said...

Yeah, I think I'll see the film just to see those actors all at the start of their careers. I figured they had to do liberties to make the film work a bit.