Joseph Krumgold Introduction - Essay

Introduction

Joseph Krumgold 1908–

American novelist, filmmaker, screenwriter, director, and producer. Krumgold's young adult novels … And Now Miguel, Onion John, and Henry 3 form a trilogy built around the theme of the awakening of awareness in youth of self, of human nature, and of how to fit into society. These works describe the processes, both internal and external, that turn boys into men, pinpointing in minute detail this time of change. They are set in very different cultures: a tradition-laden rural Mexican community, an American small town, and an American suburb, but show the universality of the maturation experience. Krumgold's works are notable for their strong sense of place, which is developed through the observations of a first-person narrator. These characters are used as reflectors for the world outside themselves. Krumgold's background in film has had a direct influence on his fiction. He uses a cinematic style in his novels, incorporating a stark visual sense and a flair for drama. At the age of twelve, Krumgold decided to devote himself to making movies. He began working for MGM studios in New York, and went to Hollywood as a Chinese dialogue writer for an ill-fated Lon Chaney film. After working on feature films for twelve years, he began concentrating solely on his own documentaries, for which he has won several international awards, including an Academy Award nomination. While in New Mexico, he worked on a film about the world of a shepherd boy, "Miguel Chavez," which served as the model for his first novel for young readers,… And Now Miguel. This book received the 1954 Newbery Award. His second novel, Onion John, was also based on a real character, an East European hobo living in Hope, New Jersey, where Krumgold also lives. This book was given the 1960 Newbery Award, giving Krumgold the distinction of being the first two-time winner of this prize. Krumgold has been criticized for the solidly male concerns of his novels, and for the lack of inclusion of women in his stories except in derogatory terms or in superficial ways. However, his perceptive understanding and realistic depiction of contemporary young people as they grow into adulthood have affected the emotions of many readers. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 9-12, rev. ed., and Something about the Author, Vol. 1.)