Sometimes I wish I could cite loftier reasons for deciding to try to Be A Writer, like a carefully-honed-over-the-years world outlook and the unstoppable desire to share it, something egomaniacal-yet-admirable, uniquely grandiose and disgusting but also kind of awesome, something beyond the energy most people are capable of putting into anything. But I just really like making up stories. And I can't even say that that passion comes from a highbrow place. I wasn't inspired by Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man so much as, like, Sideways Stories from Wayside School.
And the "young adult" horror paperbacks of the ridiculously prolific and bizarrely-for-the-Information-Age mysterious Christopher Pike. As a kid and then a pre-teen, I fucked around with Goosebumps and Fear Street until I discovered the Pike Pantheon. The first one I read was Witch, and I was sold from pretty much the first page. Ask my parents some time about how they used to have to physically steer me up the front steps to our house because I was walking while reading a Pike; thanks Mom and Dad from saving me from lots of face plants into the sidewalk and the expense of a reparative nose job.
Some of you (I'm pretending there is a "you") may be familiar with Lizzie Skurnick's Fine Lines series on the blog Jezebel, which takes "a sentimental, sometimes-critical, far more wizened look at the children's and YA books we loved in our youth." This might be one of the site's most popular features, and always provokes really impassioned, often weepy comments from the readers, and also inevitably cries of "Do this one next!!!" Seems I'm not the only one who feels profoundly influenced by the books I read as a kid, or at least deeply nostalgic for them.
So last Friday, Lizzie reviewed Pike's Remember Me, and everyone went bonkers. This wasn't the first time I thought back to my Pike reading days, but it did make it clear that there actually is an audience for blogs reminiscing about his novels, which, who knew, right?
Hence, I'm taking a stab at returning to his books (save for Remember Me, because I'm not one to step on e-toes) and posting a blog about them each week, hopefully. No offense to Ms. Skurnick, but I'd like to go a bit deeper in my reviews. Where Fine Lines is sort of freewheeling and more about the ambiance of a particular book and the particular feeling of being a young girl circa mid 1980s reading it, I'd like to dive into the meat of the plots, the language, the meaning.
I mean, because holy shit Christopher Pike is ridiculous. Lizzie doesn't mention the unforgettable climax of Remember Me, where our dead heroine Shari realizes the villainous Amanda is about to inject Shari's diabetic brother Jimmy with an air bubble and she dives into said bubble in the syringe and into Jimmy's body and they have an extended shared dream sequence in which Shari frantically tries to pop these ominous balloons that mean death for her brother against this gorgeous Edenic landscape...
Okay??? The guy has a Stephen King-sized imagination but no one seems to talk about it. Not only that, but he's pretty damn bleak for a YA author. Whisper of Death, which we'll get to at some point here, might have been the thing that inured me against getting knocked up in high school (if you've read it, you know why.) And all my writer friends are too high-falutin' to care! Well, I'm hoping this blog, and my weird little passion, finds an audience here.
Feel free to leave me requests in the comments; reviews will begin as soon as the insane amount of Pike books I ordered on Half.com arrive in the mail.