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Sterile Cuckoo Hardcover – June, 1965

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Hardcover, June, 1965
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 210 pages
  • Publisher: David McKay Co; First Edition edition (June 1965)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9997412206
  • ISBN-13: 978-9997412201
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,799,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Comic and touching and true.” (Reynolds Price) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

John Nichols is the author of On Top of Spoon Mountain, The Wizard of Loneliness, A Ghost in the Music, If Mountains Die, The Milagro Beanfield War, and other works. He lives in Taos, New Mexico. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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The Sterile Cuckoo is a wonderful story of a college romance.
And if you have, it's always fun to read it again, I have read it three times by now and I always enjoy it as if it was the first time.
Roberto Carrillo
She has the spark and flare of a great character and Nichols should be commended for sharing her with us.
Mark Valentine

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Chris K. Wilson on October 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
John Nichols' 1965 novel "The Sterile Cuckoo" is a universal tale about the pangs of first love during the important coming-of-age years of college. While the story is almost 40 years old, most readers should be able to relate to the awkward romance of protagonist Jerry Payne, an 18-year-old introvert, and the free-spirited and eccentric Pookie Adams, an extraordinarily complex, if not lovable character.
Jerry fatefully meets Pookie one afternoon at an Oklahoma bus stop, and both eventually embark on a year-long romance during their underclassmen years at neighboring universities in the east. While much of the youthful slang is dated by today's standards, readers will recognize the multiple college roommates, impulsive road trips, sweaty make-out pits and trashed hotel rooms. The early years of college life have been almost perfectly recreated by Nichols, and several situations should immediately strike a chord in most readers who have lived on a college campus.
This thoroughly interesting, comic and even sad novel was first brought to my attention after seeing the 1969 film based upon it, "The Sterile Cuckoo," starring a very young Liza Minnelli as Pookie. I was pleasantly surprised to see there were several notable differences between the novel and film. Pookie Adams is a far more tragic character in the film, filled with anger, insecurity and despair. Jerry Payne eventually pulls away from Pookie, unable to be her savior or her lifetime companion. There is an ominous, almost tragic tone to the film. Pookie's path is anything but certain.
In the novel, the future seems rather bright for Pookie after the end of the relationship in a New York hotel room. The world is absolutely going to be her oyster. For Jerry Payne, his future has far more questions.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Donna Di Giacomo VINE VOICE on July 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
John Nichols made quite an impression with his first novel about a first life-altering love. Though written in 1965, it proves that even though times change, emotions and some situations don't.

Jerry Payne was on his way to college when he meets Pookie Adams in the bus depot. She is a year younger - she's on her way back home to begin her senior year in high school - and her nonstop talking and outlook on life really irks him. They take one bus together to another stop and, sitting next to each other, start talking about everything and nothing at once. Suddenly, before Jerry knows it and not being able to stop it, he finds himself kissing Pookie.

By the time his bus pulls away, taking him to college, Pookie realizes she never got his address (or name, for that matter!) and he shouts his information out the window. Jerry didn't think Pookie heard him but 17 letters reach him from September to Valentine's Day. His father asked him if he was running a forwarding service and to please give the woman his college address.

While Pookie's letters were coming, Jerry got involved in college life - of the fraternity kind. His roommates were into the frat thing and Jerry at first wanted to show that he could be part of the crowd in a sophisticated way (with his guitar playing) but, in time, he fell into the swing of things like the rest of them. By the time Jerry and Pookie reunited (during her freshmen year of college, he having seen her picture in a college publication in the frat house's library and he and his buddies showing up at her sorority house uninvited and unwelcome), Jerry was the stereotypical frat guy - reeking of beer, plopped in a brother's jalopy (that was affectionately called "The Bitch"), and failing everything ... fast.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Moose on January 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
I'd like to recommend "The Sterile Cuckoo" for any of you, like me, who enjoy those kinds of coming-of-age/love stories like "Catcher in the Rye," "A Separate Peace," and "Goodbye Columbus." I had seen the movie of "The Sterile Cuckoo" years and years ago but can't remember anything except Liza Minneli wearing wide-rimmed glasses; I remember the song "Come Saturday Morning" better. For whatever reason, I thought that "The Sterile Cuckoo" could be one of those kinds of books that I look for. The front and back covers give it some great hype, and it really starts out interestingly with quiet, conservative Jerry Payne meeting absolutely loopy Pookie Adams. They fall in love, and the unconventional affair takes its course. Along with the comments on the back cover, I also think that a good part of "The Sterile Cuckoo" is `hilarious and imaginative.' However, I didn't see much of Pookie `helping Jerry leave behind the fun-seeking, beer-blasted fraternity man he has become as she teaches him to open his heart to her." Because of that, the novel seems to lose something starting at about the halfway mark, but then it picks up at the end. It would have been better had it been about half the length it is. Even so, there's something in "The Sterile Cuckoo" that stays after reading it. It has something to do with Pookie Adams. Early in the book, the author writes about Pookie looking out the window on a winter day: "...And she felt immensely sorry for herself because she would go through her entire life shedding beautiful crystalline tears that would melt against the warm earth: and she knew that day she would always be unhappy."
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