Zindel, Paul

Zindel, Paul
▪ 2004

      American writer (b. May 15, 1936, Tottenville, Staten Island, N.Y.—d. March 27, 2003, New York, N.Y.), transformed incidents from his own troubled childhood and from the lives of the teenaged students he encountered throughout his 10 years as a high-school chemistry teacher into a Pulitzer Prize-winning play and a number of popular novels aimed at teens and addressing their issues and concerns. It was the play, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, that first brought him to the public's attention. It was an Off-Broadway hit in 1970 before moving in 1971 to Broadway, where it ran for 819 performances and, besides the Pulitzer, won an Obie Award and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. It was filmed in 1972. During his high-school years, Zindel wrote stories and plays, but he studied chemistry in college and became a teacher on Staten Island. He continued writing in his spare time, however, and in 1965 The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds was produced in Houston, Texas. When an adaptation of it appeared on public television the following year, it attracted the attention of an editor who suggested that Zindel write a novel for teens. The Pigman (1968) not only was a success but was credited with having brought a heightened realism to teen fiction. Numerous novels followed, including My Darling, My Hamburger (1969), Pardon Me, You're Stepping on My Eyeball (1976), and Confessions of a Teenage Baboon (1977). In the meantime, Zindel was still writing plays, notably And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little, which opened on Broadway in 1971, and also wrote a few screenplays, including Up the Sandbox (1972) and Runaway Train (1986).

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▪ American author
born May 15, 1936, Staten Island, New York, U.S.
died March 27, 2003, New York, New York

      American playwright and novelist whose largely autobiographical work features poignant, alienated characters who deal with life's difficulties in pragmatic and straightforward ways.

      Zindel developed an interest in science at a young age, and from his early years he wrote plays and acted. He was educated at Wagner College, Staten Island, New York (B.S., 1958; M.Sc., 1959), and he taught high school chemistry from 1960 to 1969 before becoming a full-time writer in 1972. In most of Zindel's dramas the main tension is between a nonconformist, domineering mother and an impressionable, bewildered young person. His novels are consistently optimistic despite their acknowledgement of a less-than-ideal present. His plays include the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1971; filmed 1972), And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little (1971), The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild (1973), Let Me Hear You Whisper (1970), The Ladies Should Be in Bed (1973), A Destiny with Half Moon Street (produced 1983; published 1992), and Amulets Against the Dragon Forces (1989; based partly on his novel Confessions of a Teenage Baboon). Among his novels for young adults are The Pigman (1968), My Darling, My Hamburger (1969), Harry and Hortense at Hormone High (1984), A Begonia for Miss Applebaum (1989), and David & Della (1993). Zindel broke new ground in 1994 with the horror story Loch, which he followed with The Doom Stone (1995) and Reef of Death (1998). He also wrote screenplays of his own works as well as those for Up the Sandbox (1972), Runaway Train (1985), and several made-for-television movies.

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Universalium. 2010.

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