Quicklet on The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (Book Summary)
Quicklets: Learn more. Read less.Although author Stephen Chbosky has said that Perks isnt an autobiographical work, the main character, Charlie, does have many similarities to the author.Chbosky grew up just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as did Charlie. Chbosky was heavily influenced by literature and pop culture, as is Charlie. And Chbosky has said in numerous interviews that although his experiences as a teenager are different than Charlies, the author does share a similar world view.The book is organized chronologically in a series of letters from Charlie to an anonymous person, to whom Charlie is expressing his feelings and perceptions on a variety of things that are happening in his life.Published in 1999, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is currently one of the top-selling titles in the history of MTV Books. Chbosky has written a screen version of the book and is directing the film adaptation, which will star Paul Rudd, Emma Watson and Logan Lerman, among others. The film is expected to debut in 2012.BOOK EXCERPTI first read Stephen Chboskys The Perks of Being a Wallflower when I was 26 years old. I quickly realized that the main character, Charlie, was more well-read as a high school freshman than I was.There are several relationships that readers become engrossed in through Charlies perspective. One of the most powerful is the connection Charlie has with his English teacher, Bill. This isnt a typical teacher-student relationship Charlie does refer to the teacher by his first name, after all. Many of their discussions arent in a typical classroom setting and the books Charlie reads at Bills request are often not even assignments for school. Bill simply asks Charlie to read books and watch films, it seems, so that they can discuss them. Bill eventually views Charlie as an intellectual equal, at least when it comes to critiquing and discussing great literary works.Many of the suggestions Bill makes play into the books central theme Charlies struggle with adolescence.Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, A Separate Peace by John Knowles and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, in particular, seem to be assigned to Charlie mainly because the main characters in those books are going through similar struggles with growing up. Bill challenges Charlie with books and themes beyond the intellectual capacity of most kids just starting high school, and thats where I began to feel a bit inferior about my own reading list.Some books Ayn Rands Fountainhead, F. Scott Fitzgeralds Gatsby and Shakespeares Hamlet were familiar from college assignments, but when Charlie and Bill are discussing William S. Burroughs Naked Lunch or Fitzgeralds This Side of Paradise and a few others, I sheepishly had to make a note to read those books later as their mention in Perks were the first Id heard of them.But thats the great thing about Wallflower the book itself is a great story that most teenagers who go through awkwardness or shyness or personal tragedies can relate to. The readings of other works that pop up throughout the book in discussions between Charlie and Bill provide another great resource to inspire further readings. Even if one isnt familiar with some of the titles discussed, it is most rewarding to read some of those books and then come back to Wallflower and glean even more meaning as a result of its relationship with other great pieces of literature....To be continued!Quicklets: Learn more. Read less.
- Hyperink, December 2011
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