New York Times interviews S. E. Hinton


Tomorrow's New York Times has an interview with Tulsa novelist S. E. Hinton, whose first book, The Outsiders, was published when she was a teenager. Since 1967, the book has sold over 14 million copies, and in 1983 Francis Ford Coppola turned it into a movie, filmed in and around Tulsa, starring a cast of soon-to-be-famous young actors.

That movie has been recut by Coppola for DVD, to be released later this month. The new version's only theatrical screenings will be at two invitation-only events, Thursday in Tulsa and Friday in New York. The new version is said to be truer to the novel and to Coppola's original vision for the film.

The DVD release was the occasion for the Times interview of Hinton, who talks, in a less reserved way than in the past, about her parents, her upbringing, and the Tulsa of her youth.

The Outsiders was on our 7th grade reading list, and Hinton came to speak to the class -- this would have been around 1976. I remember her talking about her writer's block following the success of her first published novel. The Times article mentions that her boyfriend (now husband) helped her get past the block, but on her official website we learn how he did it:

Once published, The Outsiders gave her a lot of publicity and fame, and also a lot of pressure. S.E. Hinton was becoming known as "The Voice of the Youth" among other titles. This kind of pressure and publicity resulted in a three year long writer's block.

Her boyfriend (and now, her husband), who had gotten sick of her being depressed all the time, eventually broke this block. He made her write two pages a day if she wanted to go anywhere. This eventually led to That Was Then, This Is Now.

Part of the fun of reading the book as a 7th grader was trying to figure out the real-life Tulsa places that Hinton disguised. In the book the Socs lived on the west side and the Greasers on the east side; the real-life division at Will Rogers High School in the '60s was between the middle-class southsiders and the working-class northsiders. As a lower-middle-class kid from the far eastern outskirts of Tulsa who went to a school with the sons and daughters of the city's most prominent families, I knew what being an outsider felt like.

I'm sorry that I won't get a chance to see the new version on the big screen. The original film had some visually beautiful and dramatic moments. Besides, it would be fun to see the locations larger than life -- some of them are no longer standing.

According to the official website for the book and the movie, a wider release was planned, but cancelled. I wonder if the producers were concerned about audience amusement at the sight of the now-famous cast slugging it out as teenage toughs. When the movie was first released, these actors were largely unknowns and wouldn't have overshadowed the story. Now, there's likely to be a lot of "hey, isn't that...?" as each character makes his first appearance. (And maybe a bit of cheering if Tom Cruise's character takes a punch.)

The Times interview has a link to the review of the book in the May 7, 1967, Times.

By the way: I found the Times interview via the Tulsa Bloggers aggregation page, which includes a newsfeed of stories about Tulsa, gathered from a variety of sources.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 6, 2005 9:14 PM.

LaFortune politicizes TU opener was the previous entry in this blog.

Katrina gleanings is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]