the original kStyle blog.

Friday, July 16, 2004

PAULA DANZIGER (1944-2004)

Is anyone else here familiar with her work? The Cat Ate My Gymsuit? There's a Bat in Bunk Five? The Pistachio Prescription? Can You SueYoure Parents for Malpractice? Remember Me to Harold Square?

I read pretty much every Paula Danziger novel pretty much a hundred times between the ages of nine and fourteen. And again after that: in fact I just read "Harold Square" three months ago, after coming across it serendipitously on a shelf in my bedroom.

Danziger wrote funny, unpretentious novels for teenagers. She always wrote in the present tense, which I caught onto early, and which, though sometimes an affectation, gave her books an immediacy others lacked. She was fond of puns. The fathers in her books, particularly those from the seventies, were often distant, and the mothers often tried too hard. (Sometimes so did Danziger. But we can at least say this: she never wrote a boring novel.)

Her heroes and heroines, mostly heroines, were
honest and direct, and in fact one might say her recurring theme was the attempt by honest, direct people to get along in a world that doesn't prize either of those things. "The Cat Ate My Gymsuit," her first and still most famous novel, though not her best, set the tone for all of that, and Danziger kept it going for over thirty years. She was the real deal.

She died of a heart attack last week at age 59. I'll miss her.


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