If you’re only memory of Flowers For Algernon is reading a story in your high school literature class then it’s time to give it another read. Extended into a novel from a short story he had written in 1959, Daniel Keyes’ story about Charlie Gordon is one of a kind.
Told through a series of his journaled “progress reports”, Charlie (a mentally challenged man with an IQ of 68) undergoes an experimental procedure that slowly transforms his limited mental capacity into sophisticated genius. As soon as Charlie “outgrows” the scientists who have given him his new brain, his calculations lead him to suspect the results of the procedure may be temporary… or worse. Flowers For Algernon has often been removed from school libraries and curriculum due to some candid scenes in which Charlie attempts to explain some of his sexual frustrations. With the book banned from my school, my seventh grade literature teacher secretly gave me a weathered copy of the book and asked that I send her a copy of my first novel when it was finally written. Flowers For Algernon was indeed one of a small handful of books I read in those days that filled me with the desire to write. The inspiration is obvious in Nevada in the character of Paul Wesley.
will you be offended? as I mentioned, you wouldn’t be the first. the censorship of the book—i believe—is a tad silly. I don’t think there’s anything offensive about it.