John ?)– Green (1978() Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Adaptations, Work in Progress, Sidelights
Born 1978. Education: Graduated from college in 2000.
Agent—c/o Dutton Children's Books Publicity, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.
Worked as a chaplain in a children's hospital; Booklist, Chicago, IL, production editor and book reviewer.
Looking for Alaska (young-adult novel), Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor of scripts to radio, including All Things Considered, National Public Radio, and to WBEZ, Chicago; contributor to national magazines.
Looking for Alaska has been adapted as a film of the same title, directed by Josh Schwartz, expected 2006.
Work in Progress
An Abundance of Katherines.
John Green worked briefly as a chaplain at a children's hospital following his college graduation, a position he credits with giving him a great deal of insight into the thoughts of teenagers. He then moved on to Booklist, starting off as a temp and working his way up to production editor and occasional book reviewer. In addition, he contributes frequently to National Public Radio (NPR)'s All Things Considered, and to Chicago NPR affiliate WBEZ. He got his start writing for NPR thanks to a work-related correspondence for Booklist with writer Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who had a periodic program on WBEZ. Rosenthal found Green's e-mails entertaining and asked if he had ever written any short pieces that might be suitable for radio. Although he had not, Green claimed to have a few things that were appropriate; he then promptly went home and wrote several brief, humorous articles. Rosenthal selected one of them, "Nine Girls I've Kissed and What I Learned about Them from Google," and aired it. Several additional articles followed, and eventually Green found himself recording a piece for All Things Considered. In an interview for MediaBistro, Green explained what it's like to write for the radio: "I have no idea what would be good for the air. But I've always read my writing aloud to myself…. What I later learned is that when you're writing for the radio, you have to dispense with flashy writing and abundant adjectives in favor of action verbs and funny jokes. Writing for the radio needs to be very, very tight, because people get bored easily."
Green's young-adult novel, Looking for Alaska, is about a young man named Miles "Pudge" Halter, who leaves his home in Florida to attend Culver Creek, a boarding school in Birmingham, Alabama. The Alaska in the title is not the state, but a girl Pudge meets in school and who is the driving force of the clique that adopts Pudge. Neither popular nor outgoing at his previous school, Pudge now finds himself part of a colorful group that includes a trailer-park kid with an eerie memory whose name is Chip but goes by the nickname Colonel; a Japanese student named Takumi; a Romanian girl named Lara; and, of course, Alaska. His new friends are brilliant, willing to discuss Edna St. Vincent Millay and W.H. Auden, but they are also troublemakers with a tendency to drink in the woods and smoke in the school bathrooms. This insistence on bucking the system seems intriguing to Pudge, until Alaska's extreme behavior gets her killed in a drunken collision with a police car, an incident that may or may not have been a suicide. Pudge, who has always had a fascination with the last words of famous people, suddenly finds himself facing death on a very personal level.
Peter D. Sieruta, in a review for Horn Book, called Green's work a "mature novel, peopled with intelligent characters who talk smart, yet don't always behave that way, and are thus notably complex and realistically portrayed teenagers." A contributor to Publishers Weekly remarked that "the novel's chief appeal lies in Miles's well-articulated lust and his initial excitement about being on his own for the first time." School Library Journal contributor Johanna Lewis commented that "Miles's narration is alive with sweet, self-deprecating humor, and his obvious struggle to tell the story truthfully adds to his believability." Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books critic Deborah Stevenson concluded that "Green gives the time-tested plot of boarding-school maturation its full and considerable due, evoking the substantial appeal of the situation's hothouse intensity, heady independence, and endless possibilities."
Green himself admits that his own boarding school experience was a source of material for the book. In an interview for PenguinPutnam.com, he remarked: "I like writing for teenagers because big questions—about love and religion and compassion and grief—matter to teens in a very visceral way. And it's fun to write teenage characters. They're funny and clever and feel so much so intensely."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, March 1, 2005, Ilene Cooper, "Last Words from a First Novelist," interview with John Green, p. 1181.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 2005, Deborah Stevenson, review of Looking for Alaska, p. 252.
Horn Book, March-April, 2005, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Looking for Alaska, p. 201.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2005, review of Looking for Alaska, p. 287.
Kliatt, March, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of Looking for Alaska, p. 12.
Philadelphia Inquirer, March 30, 2005, Katie Haegele, "Private-School Pranks, Perhaps Worse, in Looking for Alaska."
Publishers Weekly, February 7, 2005, review of Looking for Alaska, p. 61; July 25, 2005, "The O.C. Cools off with John Green's YA Novel, Looking for Alaska," p. 8.
School Library Journal, February, 2005, Johanna Lewis, review of Looking for Alaska, p. 136.
BookPage.com, http://www.bookpage.com/ (August 30, 2005), "John Green."
Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/ (August 30, 2005), "John Green."
MediaBistro.com, http://www.mediabistro.com/ (August 30, 2005), "Pop Quiz: John Green."
Penguin Putnam Web site, http://www.penguinputnam.com/ (August 30, 2005), "Q&A with Author John Green."
SparksFlyUp.com, http://www.sparksflyup.com/ (August 30, 2005), "A Shout in the Street: A Bit about John Green."
Teenreads.com, http://www.teenreads.com/ (August 30, 2005), "John Green."
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