Sue Townsend – ‘a lone voice, a humanist and a genius’

, , , , , , , , , in The Guardian:

Author-Sue-Townsend--011Alexis Petridis: Of all the books about teenage angst that I read as a kid, it wasn't that I didn't identify in some way with Holden Caulfield or Ponyboy Curtis in The Outsiders, it was just that Adrian Mole seemed most like me. He was suburban and he was hopeless: not in the romantic, doomed, Rebel Without a Cause sense, but in the unable-to-get-anything-quite-right sense. Like SE Hinton's anti-hero, he joined a gang, but they didn't “rumble” with rival gangs, or stab anybody, or hide out in a church with a loaded gun reciting Robert Frost poems: they just aimlessly hung around outside a chip shop. Holden Caulfield hired a prostitute, Adrian Mole “indulged in a bit of light petting” with Pandora before she went home with a headache: “I was racked with sexuality but it wore off when I helped my father put manure on our rose bed.” I haven't picked up The Catcher in the Rye or The Outsiders in years, but I kept re-reading The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole and its sequel. They were always funny, but the books seemed to change as I got older. For one thing, I got more of the jokes – many of which had sailed over my 12-year-old head, in much the same way as his mother's behaviour with Mr Lucas passes Adrian by.

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