Robert Cormier's Sources of Inspiration

Assorted drafts on Robert Cormier's childhood PART I

Assorted drafts on Robert Cormier's childhood PART I

This 15 page heavily marked typescript recounts scenes from and thoughts on Robert Cormier’s childhood. Late nights and humiliation at Camp Wanocksett, the death of his 10 year old cousin and three year old brother, a house fire, the love in his family, and a menacing dog are all addressed with the seeming goal to find the source of the darkness in his writing. He also describes his grandfather and father’s professions and family outings to the park. He ruminates on the idea that people hide a part of themselves from the world. His own insomnia seems an alertness to the constant possibility of danger and fear of being without defenses.

Assorted drafts on Robert Cormier's childhood PART II

Assorted drafts on Robert Cormier's childhood PART II

These 13 pages of heavily marked typescript continue on similar themes of childhood fears and memories. Robert Cormier describes how safe he felt with his father, his appearance as a child, his response to his mother’s death, and his uneasiness seeing his mother napping. Also addressed is Cormier’s inspiration to express the personal in obscured but public ways according to Graham Greene’s own writerly agenda. The closing pages reveal a potential motive for his ruminations in the past. Bob Lypsite and his camera crew were coming to Leominster to ask Cormier about his childhood. Lypsite was convinced Cormier had to have a secret, dark life to write his novels.

Assorted drafts on Robert Cormier's childhood PART III

Assorted drafts on Robert Cormier's childhood PART III

This lightly marked five page typescript shares Robert Cormier’s transition from a Catholic elementary school to a public middle school, taking note of the novelty of racial diversity and meeting people outside of the French Hill neighborhood. He describes the trauma of being dismissed by a music teacher for lack of knowledge and experience. Speaking to his strengths and weaknesses as a student and athlete show an early affinity to writing. The final page of the typescript reveals his purpose for writing: to prepare a talk for a conference whose theme is “Memories.” Cormier uses his memories to tap into feelings that transcend generations.

Related Links:

Poets Metta Sáma, Alex Dimitrov, and Lynn Melnick talk about self and persona in autobiographical poetry
https://lareviewofbooks.org/essay/poets-roundtable-on-person-and-persona https://lareviewofbooks.org/essay/poets-roundtable-on-person-and-persona-part-2