Retro worth a shot

Kerr, M.E. (1989). Dinky Hocker shoots smack. New York: Harper Trophy.

(Originally published 1972).

Genre: Realistic fiction

Intended audience: Teens

Personal reaction to the book: The fourth book I read for the course and the first one I enjoyed reading. It had dinky hockerbelievable characters, a flow that never felt like it was sketched out from plot point to plot point, genuinely funny moments and the crisis and denouement at the end were appropriate for what came before and nicely resolved. The third-person narration was a relief.

The only real critique is that the book is not aging well in terms of vernacular, starting with the title, which was a common expression in the 1970s but essentially obsolete now. One puzzler was the “Pay Duplicate” section of the library Tucker visits. I found a reference in a 1913 SUNY quarterly devoted to libraries that described a pay duplicate section as a shelf or shelves of bestsellers that users would pay to read, thus defraying the cost of buying several copies of popular titles (and perhaps even helping cover the “good” reading elsewhere in the library.

Author facts: M.E. Kerr is one of several pseudonyms for Marijane Meaker and the name she used for her young adult fiction. As Vin Packer, she wrote hard-boiled crime novels and was a pioneer in lesbian fiction for a general audience. She was a friend of Louise Fitzhugh, who wrote the Harriet the Spy novels and who was an inspiration to Meaker to write for younger audiences.

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