Robert Cormier: Going for the Jugular

In Robert Cormier's novels, the protagonist never wins. In fact, the protagonist usually dies or succumbs to mental illness. Cormier is in the business of pointing out the flaws in human nature and doing nothing about them. He is a messenger. An extremely eloquent messenger, certainly, but merely a messenger.

Compared to Cormier's antagonists, Dan Brown's villains seem gracious. Cormier's stories pack a sort of raw fear, a brutish disgust that stays in the reader's mouth long after a reading's end.  He points out the evil within all of us, and marvels at how good some of us are at disguising it.  And his stories are mildly hopeful because the reader instinctively searches out hope within a dystopian reality. 
“He was intrigued by the power of words, not the literary words that filled the books in the library but the sharp, staccato words that went into the writing of news stories. Words that went for the jugular. Active verbs that danced and raced on the page.” -I am the Cheese 
Words that went for the jugular? What I would give to write like that...


Chris Thompson said...

I've only recently started on Cormier, having read The Chocolate War a few months ago, and based on that book alone I think your analysis is spot-on. There's something raw about his writing that makes his stories feel so real, and frightening. I am the Cheese is probably his next book I will seek.

Yinan said...

I read I am the Cheese in a hospital; the contained nature of the institution made reading the book extremely frightening.