13 May 2010

+JMJ+

Character Connection 5



Read about Rilla Blythe and other fantastic characters
in this week's great roundup!


I hope Jen won't mind if I use this entry in her weekly meme to plug my own. =P

Remember that Locus Focus debuts this Saturday! To join this weekend meme, write about a really great setting from a book you've read. (See more details on the Locus Focus page.)

Incidentally, the character for my latest Character Connection post and the setting for my first Locus Focus post come from the same novel . . .


Earl Grayson, Pitcher
Maniac Magee
by Jerry Spinelli

"You sent me to bed without a story last night," Maniac kidded.

Grayson brushed a yellow speck of egg from his white stubble. "I don't got no stories. I told you."

"You wanted to be a baseball player."

"That ain't no story."

"Well, did you become one?"

Grayson drank half his orange juice. "Just the Minors," he muttered.

Maniac yelped, "The
Minors!"

"Couldn't never make it to the Majors." There was a frayed weariness in the old man's words, as though they had long since worn out.

"Grayson--the
Minors. Man, you must have been good. What position did you play?"

Grayson said, "Pitcher." This word, unlike the others was not worn at all, but fresh and robust. It startled Maniac. It declared: I am not what you see. I am not a line-laying, pickup-driving, live-at-the-Y, bean-brained parkhand. I am not rickety, whiskered worm chow. I am a pitcher.

Jerry Spinelli has a talent for creating quirky characters who are at once like someone you have met before and someone you never dreamed could exist. I've read other Spinelli novels (namely Stargirl and Crash), and know that the stranger a character is, the more affection Spinelli feels towards him. He likes the weirdos. =P

Earl Grayson is kind of an exception. He's not weird. In fact, he's very "straight"--and that quality is, as the book hints, what has made everyone in his life write him off as a "line-laying, pickup-driving, live-at-the-Y, bean-brained parkhand": an old, grey-haired failure. And then, as he does with his stranger subjects, Spinelli bids the reader look closer and see someone worth getting to know, worth pumping for stories about his past, and worth becoming very good friends with.

Indeed, if one looks with the heart, then nobody is ever as he first seems.

Now, I won't say much more, because Maniac meets Grayson in the middle of the novel and I don't want to spoil anything. So here are a couple of really safe remarks . . .

Firstly, though I'm not a very visual reader, and hardly ever play the "Cast the Movie" game, I thought that Clint Eastwood would make an excellent Grayson, should they ever make a movie adaptation of Maniac Magee.

Secondly, there's something about Grayson that reminds me of Sebastian Flyte of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. Not the young, carefree Sebastian, of course, but his older, shadowed self.

Image Source: Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

13 comments:

ReadingRainbow said...

I have never read one of this books but I am tempted now!

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Oh, I definitely recommend Spinelli! =D His books are short and fun and filled with quirky characters. Sometimes he also writes in the expected tension between the weirdos and the "normalos," but he always makes the point that people are more than what you see on the surface. =)

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

Sullivan McPig said...

Somehow this story sounds like they should make it into a movie.
Never read it though.

Daria Hlazatova said...

It's always interesting to read your posts, because you write about characters I don't know - and i always make a note to myself about them )

Becky said...

I'm no good at casting actors for book characters either. I just don't watch enough films. They all seem to have the same people in them.

I haven't read any books by Jerry Spinelli but I think I'll start with Stargirl. I haven't heard of your pick before.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Sully: It definitely has cinematic potential, but I think I'd like it better as a mini-series.

Daria: Thank you! I think that's the nicest comment I've received all week!

Becky: Stargirl is another cool choice for characters who are "vintage Spinelli"! I recall not liking it very much, but I think that has something to do with Maniac Magee having been so good. If you like Stargirl, please give Maniac a chance, too! =)

Jen G. said...

You know I don't care if you plug your own meme! We're obviously a group of people who like memes that require a little more thought--your target participants!

I don't think I've read any of Spinelli's work either, although I wouldn't be surprised if I did back in elementary school and it's been lost through the fog of time. :) I do have Stargirl in my tbr stacks. I like what you said about how he makes you look closer and realize that people are rarely as they appear at first glance.

The Book Mole said...

I haven't heard of Spinelli at all, but am glad to be introduced to him - I love an author who likes quirky characters! I too enjoy casting characters I like!

I look forward to Locus Pocus Saturday!

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Jen: Thanks! I do prefer these thoughtful sorts of memes to the "mailbox" and "teaser" posts that are so popular, and I'm glad that everyone here does, too.

Book Mole: Oh, Spinelli's characters are quirky and a half!

After my brothers and I get done with Maniac Magee, we're going to start Sixth Grade Secrets by Louis Sachar. He's another great author for quirky characters.

Elena said...

I have a little something for you over on my blog. (Not Candyland - the other blog!) Come have a look and have a great weekend!

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Many thanks, Elena! I hope you have a good weekend, too. =)

Paul Stilwell said...

""Grayson--the Minors. Man, you must have been good. What position did you play?"

Grayson said, "Pitcher." This word, unlike the others was not worn at all, but fresh and robust. It startled Maniac. It declared: I am not what you see. I am not a line-laying, pickup-driving, live-at-the-Y, bean-brained parkhand. I am not rickety, whiskered worm chow. I am a pitcher."

Okay, I really, really have to reread this book!

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

YES. You do.

It moved me so much that it even inspired an Igor post!