The Outsiders Read online
It is very difficult for me to write about myself, and especially The Outsiders, which was written at a horrendous time in my life, was published by a series of mind-boggling synchronicities, and has gone further than any author dared dream. But I'll give it a shot.
I wrote The Outsiders when I was sixteen years old. Actually I began it when I was fifteen, as a short story about a boy who was beaten up on his way home from the movies.
But I didn't just write The Outsiders, I lived it. Looking back, I realize how important it was to me to have another life at that time. To be someone else. To deal with problems I had to face, and write my way to some sort of understanding and coping. This is all in hindsight. At the time, I was mad about the social situation in my high school. I desperately wanted something to read that dealt realistically with teen-age life.
I knew I was going to be a writer. I love to write. I began in grade school, because I loved to read, and liked the idea of making stories happen the way I wanted them to. By the time I was in high school I had been practicing for years. So I was both elated and not surprised when I received my publishing contract on the day I graduated from high school.
The Outsiders has taken me many places I never dreamed of going. It introduced me to people I would never otherwise have met. Although the names Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, C. Thomas Howell, Emilio Estevez, and Ralph Macchio are familiar to most people, and conjure visions of movie stars and glamour, I remember a group of sweet, goofy, incredibly talented and at the same time incredibly normal teen-age boys. I was involved in every aspect of filming the movie version of The Outsiders, and the memory I cherish most is of hanging out with "my boys."
I owe Francis Coppola a debt of thanks. Not only for the respect, kindness, and friendship I personally received from him, but for the fact that he made the movie for the fans of the book. He shot a faithful adaptation, consulting me for everything from locations to wardrobe, but it was the fans of the book he wanted to please. And as far as I know, he is the only director to go back and assemble a more complete movie (The Outsiders, The Complete Novel DVD) because those fans asked him to.
Fans. I receive letters from every state, from dozens of foreign countries. From twelve-year-olds and forty-year-olds. From convicts and policemen, teachers, social workers, and of course, kids. Kids who are living lives like those in The Outsiders. Kids who can't imagine living lives like those in The Outsiders. Kids who read all the time. Ones who never before finished a book.
The letters saying "I loved the book" are good, the ones that say "I never liked to read before, and now I read all the time" are better, but the ones that say "The Outsiders changed my life" and "I read it fifteen years ago and I realize how much it has influenced my life choices" frankly scare me. Who am I to change anyone's life? I guess the best reply is "It's the book, not the author" and "It's the message, not the messenger." A lot of the time I feel that The Outsiders was meant to be written, and I was chosen to write it. It's certainly done more good than anything I could accomplish on a personal level.
If this sounds like I am overwhelmed by the decades of incredible response to what began as a short story I started when I was fifteen years old, well, I guess that's the truth.
S. E. HINTON
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First published in the United States of America by The Viking Press, 1967
Published by Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 1997
This edition published by Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2006, 2012
Copyright (c) S. E. Hinton, 1967
Copyright renewed S. E. Hinton, 1995
All rights reserved
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS HAS CATALOGED THE VIKING EDITION UNDER CATALOG CARD NUMBER: 67-13606
"Nothing Gold Can Stay," is from Complete Poems of Robert Frost. Copyright 1923 by Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, Inc. Copyright 1951 by Robert Frost.
Reprinted by permission of Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
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BOOKS BY S. E. HINTON
Big David, Little David
The Puppy Sister
Some of Tim's Stories
That Was Then, This Is Now
Table of Contents
That was Then, This is Now
About the Author
WHEN I STEPPED out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home. I was wishing I looked like Paul Newman--he looks tough and I don't--but I guess my own looks aren't so bad. I have light-brown, almost-red hair and greenish-gray eyes. I wish they were more gray, because I hate most guys that have green eyes, but I have to be content with what I have. My hair is longer than a lot of boys wear theirs, squared off in back and long at the front and sides, but I am a greaser and most of my neighborhood rarely bothers to get a haircut. Besides, I look better with long hair.
I had a long walk home and no company, but I usually lone it anyway, for no reason except that I like to watch movies undisturbed so I can get into them and live them with the actors. When I see a movie with someone it's kind of uncomfortable, like having someone read your book over your shoulder. I'm different that way. I mean, my second-oldest brother, Soda, who is sixteen-going-on-seventeen, never cracks a book at all, and my oldest brother, Darrel, who we call Darry, works too long and hard to be interested in a story or drawing a picture, so I'm not like them. And nobody in our gang digs movies and books the way I do. For a while there, I thought I was the only person in the world that did. So I loned it.
Soda tries to understand, at least, which is more than Darry does. But then, Soda is different from anybody; he understands everything, almost. Like he's never hollering at me all the time the way Darry is, or treating me as if I was si