A Writer In Tulsa

S. E. Hinton, who has maintained her quiet dignity since The Outsiders made her a teen-lit legend in 1967, has been doing just a little talking about her books and her life. The occasion is the upcoming release of a new, longer version of the film based on the book, The Outsiders: The Complete Novel. Using footage that didn’t make it to the original theatrical release, the new version will spend more time introducing the characters, remix the soundtrack and hew closer to director Francis Ford Coppola’s original vision.

I’m not sure if the film’s recut amounts to exciting news or not (the official Warner Brothers website is one of the ugliest websites I’ve seen in a long time) but I am interested to hear that S. E. Hinton has been granting unusually frank interviews about the real-life stories behind her novel.

There really were Greasers and Socs at her high school, Will Rogers High in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Socs (pronounced Sosh-es) were mostly rich with oil money, and Hinton’s family had none of it.

The Outsiders was about three brothers living without parents in the Greaser part of town. S. E. Hinton did have parents, but she is now speaking up about the fact that her mother was deeply troubled and abusive, as well as completely unsupportive of her daughter’s surprising writing career. In this sense, the author seems to link herself not to the three brothers but to Johnny, the shy, sweet kid who seems to always get hurt worst in every rumble, whose parents were described as similarly abusive.

This is about as much talking as S. E. Hinton has ever done. If I could interview her further, I’d ask about the origins of her great character names — Sodapop, Ponyboy … she even named a kid M&M in That Was Then, This Is Now, long before Marshall Mathers ever thought of it. But Hinton (who still lives in Tulsa, is happily married and has a son in college) doesn’t speak up too often, and I have a feeling the door is now closed again.

As for the movie (which isn’t the only legendary novel about restless American youth Coppola has been working on), we’ll have to wait till September 20 to see the new cut for ourselves.

6 Responses

  1. Litkicks Strikes AgainIt was
    Litkicks Strikes Again

    It was nice to see this about S.E. Hinton. I’d read her books years ago, after my Hardy Boys run, and loved them.

    Good to see she’s still alive. Is she still writing, or no?

    Leave it to Litkicks to keep us updated on reclusive authors, like Hinton and Harper Lee. When’s the next piece gonna come on Salinger? Maybe an obit? He is pretty old after all.

  2. TexDon’t forget about Tex,

    Don’t forget about Tex, which was published considerably after the Outsiders in 1982. But obviously 1982 was too a long time ago, anyway.

    Her other two novels, That was Then, This is Now and Rumblefish, were also published in the late 60’s. Hinton was one the first authors that I really “got into” when I was in my early teens. Her writing was a stopgap in my life where I was definitely too old for Judy Blume, but too young for Hemingway. The film adaptations of her books have all been fairly good, too. Great topic, thanks.

  3. Speaking of Harper Lee, has
    Speaking of Harper Lee, has anyone ever bought into the myth that actually her cousin, Truman Capote, wrote To Kill a Mockingbird?

  4. Actually, I never read Tex,
    Actually, I never read Tex, and I guess I got off the Hinton bus after “That Was Then This Is Now”. This was not because I didn’t love that book (I thought it was even better than “Outsiders”) but mainly because, well, I guess I moved on to grownup novels and forgot to return. But it’s good to hear that you think the later works stand up too.

  5. worlds awayI believe we have
    worlds away

    I believe we have a lot to thank S.E. Hinton for. I read all those books, yet always imagined there were many more. Then the films! Coppola gave us the Gone With The Wind homage that was The Outsiders, and Rumble Fish was possibly Mickey Rourke’s greatest moment (Dylan likes him). Not to mention Matt Dillon’s best role apart from Cowboy Junkies and of course when he got to screw Nicole Kidman against that tree … I’m sure S.E Hinton had more than four novels, and I’m sure she’s one of the most influential authors I ever read! Really, apart from Enid Blyton & Roald Dahl, who else ever made us feel like fully functioning human beings?

  6. Just saw the first movie
    Just saw the first movie version

    What a fantastic film. The photography – the eyes of Johnny that melted this soul. The tears of empathy pouring out for Pony Boy and Johnny and Matt Dillon.

    The book’s been circulating here for years as well, but I’ve never read it. I will. S.E. has a fine eye by the looks of Coppola’s film.

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!