This Day in Death

6.15.14: “Flowers for Algernon” Author Daniel Keyes – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 6:17 pm June 19, 2014

DANIEL_KEYESTo put that number in perspective, J.K. Rowling once sold 4 million copies of a dirty limerick she scrawled onto a bar napkin. The film trilogy is currently being produced by Steven Soderbergh.


Daniel Keyes, best known as the author of perennial ‘Tim Allen becomes Paul Allen before going back to being Tim Allen’ novel Flowers for Algernon, has passed away due to complications related to pneumonia. For decades, Flowers for Algernon has been the book that countless 8th grade English teachers push on their students in the hopes of helping them discover who they really are, before giving up after realizing that what most of them really are are future 7-Eleven clerks and proto-arsonists.

The story was written as a series of first-person progress reports by Charlie Gordon, a 32-year-old bakery worker with an intellectual disability who is chosen for an experimental operation to increase his intelligence. A white mouse named Algernon had undergone the procedure and had become intelligent enough to solve mazes much faster than Charlie.

There’s no shame in not being able to finish one of those things. Who hasn’t gotten stuck overnight in the hedge maze at the Renn Faire, or a Long John Silver’s placemat? The key to survival is the same in both cases: Stay calm, leave a whole mess of breadcrumbs, and try to keep your crying to a respectable minimum.

The premise underlying Mr. Keyes’s best-known novel struck him while he waited for an elevated train to take him from Brooklyn to New York University in 1945.

“I thought: My education is driving a wedge between me and the people I love,” he wrote in his memoir, “Algernon, Charlie and I” (1999).

Paging Dr. Humblebrag! Dr. Humblebrag to the Egotorium, stat! Still, points for turning lemons into lemonade by using Flowers’ success as fuel for his next novel, Cockasaurus Rex and the Planet Full of Normals. It’s the harrowing story of a brilliant and well-endowed author who has to deal with being so handsome that regular people literally can’t look at him without blinding themselves. In the end, he’s forced to ease the pain the only way he knows how: by having wanton sex with untold scores of multi-ethnic supermodels. The point is that sometimes you just don’t understand how hard a person has it until you can see things from their perspective.

Source: NY Times

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