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I went about it all wrong. When I decided to see what all the fuss surrounding Mr. Paul Zindel was about, I should have just read "The Pigman" immediately. Instead, I read his far less accomplished (and, these days, horribly dated) "My Darling, My Hamburger". Having come to the conclusion that Zindel was fine if slightly overrated, I then moved onto "The Pigman". Once I finished it, I realized my mistake. Zindel WAS an accomplished young adult writer. Heck, he was one of the granddaddys of the genre. And "The Pigman" is a fabulous book. Depressing? Heck, yeah. But fabulous.

The heroes (so to speak) of this little work of art are John and Lorraine. Sophomores in high school, the book jumps between their narratives. This book is their "memorial epic", dedicated to their adventures with the man they call The Pigman. As the story plays out, it becomes clear that neither of them are the most reliable of narrators. Coming from unhappy homes, the two friends fill their days with idle games. By complete accident they meet the acquaintance of one Angelo Pignati a.k.a. "The Pigman". A lonely old man whose only friend is an ugly baboon at the zoo, Pignati slowly befriends the reluctant teens. Through his kindness, the kids begin to experience a little more happiness than they've felt anywhere else. But when Pignati places his trust in the two, they betray him and Pignati's world is destroyed. Cheery fun!

Actually, I'm usually pretty anti-depressing books. There are just too darn many of them out there these days. When I was a teen I avoided them like the plague and I suspect that's partially why I missed "The Pigman" in the first place. Reading it today, I was surprised by the humor in it. John and Lorraine (the women's names in this book really drill home its original 1968 copyright date) are goofballs through and through. Whether they're prank calling, roller skating through the Pigman's dining room, or noshing on chocolate covered ants, this kids have a ball. John's the compulsive liar of the two while Lorraine psychoanalyzes anyone who gets within a hair's breath of her. One of the things I liked the most about this story was that their relationship remains fairly steady. There's a bit of awkwardness after the two kiss at one moment, but for the most part they're just good friends who need one another badly. I suspect the sequel to this book, "The Pigman's Legacy", probably plumbs their interactions a little further, but that's just a guess.

On the whole, the book is most remarkable because it still speaks clearly to teens today. Who isn't going to understand about the fun that can be had with a house party, booze, and a band? Or the two-faced nature of many an adult? Just update a couple phrases here, a word there, an appliance yonder, and you could probably publish this story as a very modern creation.

A tip of the hat to Paul Zindel then. A word of advice: If you would like to learn more about this wonderful author, begin with "The Pigman". This book was groundbreaking in its day and it remains a funny and sad paean to the death of teen-age innocence.
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on July 27, 2000
Through his style of writing, Paul Zindel makes it easy for anyone to make a connection with the characters. Can you picture a teenager without life dilemmas? Not in today's society, so this is one book you must have every teenager read. In this book, you will meet two dynamic characters- John and Lorraine. They are two sophomores in high school who share with the reader their adventures. John is the typical prankster. Lorraine is his sidekick. Together, they to many things. They drink and smoke at the cemetery, and play practical jokes on people. The famous telephone marathon prank was one prank that changed their lives forever. The Pigman introduces them to a whole new world. Throughout the book, John and Lorraine will encounter themes of love, compassion, and trust. In addition, you will read about the different conflicts they experience. What does John's father wants him to be when he grows up? Why Lorraine's mother hates men? Who is Bobo? When I read this book as an adult, I could not put it down! I found myself becoming part of the story. I strongly encourage every educator to have this become part of your reading collection. If you are not an educator, you should purchase or recommend this book to any teenager you know. They will not be able to thank you enough.
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on July 10, 2001
The Pigman by Paul Zindel was published in 1968 by Bantam Books. The novel is a fiction "memorial epic" about two high school students, John and Lorraine, who meet an old man, Mr. Pignati, and spend a lot of time with him. The main setting is Mr. Pignati's house. The main characters write the book about their experiences with the Pigman.
John and Lorraine's families do not give them support and don't pay any attention to them. They meet the Pigman through a prank phone call. John and Lorraine start hanging out with the Pigman, but their relationship is not normal because of the age difference (Mr. Pignati is about 56 years old and John and Lorraine are either 14 or 15 years old) and we know that it is not going to have a happy ending. (His name is Mr. Pignati but they call him the Pigman because he collects glass pigs.) John and Lorraine start hanging out with the Pignman because he is so nice and partly because they feel sorry for him. The Pigman takes John and Lorraine to the zoo to meet Bobo, the Baboon. Mr. Pignati is very nice to them and pays them attention, which their parents don't give them much of. One day while they are playing around at his house, the Pigman has a heart attack and goes to the hopsital. While he is in the hospital, John and Lorraine have a party. The Pigman comes home early from the hospital in the middle of the party to find his house a wreck. Throughout the story, John and Lorraine are trying to be what they aren't, adults, and the Pigman is trying to be what he isn't, a kid. Because John and Lorraine are playing at being adults, they are forced to grow up and be more mature.
Zindel's purpose is to entertain and to send a message to teenagers not to pretend to be what you aren't. Zindel entertains the readers, young and old, by having the two main characters switch on and off writing the chapters. You get to read each point of view. Also, the problems that John and Lorraine face are realistic problems. Lorraine's family isn't perfect and John's family is falling apart. The message Zindel sends teenagers is not to pretend to be what you aren't. The Pigman is playing at being a kid and has a heart attack because of it, and John and Lorraine are playing at being adults and end up with adult problems at the end. The strengths of the novel are that it's appealing to teens and it catches the reader's attention. It appeals to teens because two teenagers are writing the story, and the author uses childish humor. For instance, John refers to a kid at the party as looking like a "constipated weasel." (Just try to picture this.) The personalities and the way the book is written makes the reader get "hooked on the book."
I would recommend this book to teens or older because the problems that the characters face and how they deal with them are interesting. The book seems like it is a comedy and a tragedy, and it keeps you reading on.
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on August 1, 2009
I ordered the audiobook version because my son had this book on his required reading list. I started listening with him for a couple minutes to get him started, but then I couldn't walk away, I was hooked and had to listen to the whole thing that night!

It is really well-written and well performed! It is often very funny - we were laughing out loud at several places. And the narrators did such a great job - they sound like the real teenagers telling us their story. The boy reads one chapter, and the girl reads the next chapter - and I really liked the banter between them and their entirely different personalities and perspectives. I found it all very entertaining, very funny at times and very dramatic at others.

My son got wrapped up in the story and I was so glad I got to listen to it as well. We just ordered the sequel and look forward to listening to that on our family drive to Chicago.
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on January 22, 2001
Thank you to my teacher, who made us read this book for freshman honors English. Among my peers, I was among the few who enjoyed the book, which I find so sad. These days our lives seem built so much on materialistic things and for once, I wish everyone would see the beauty in this book and that is to enjoy life while you have it. The story is simple enough. It's about two teenagers whose home lives are, well to say the least, less than perfect. The way Zindel writes these characters makes it very easy to understand and to relate to them. I found myself nodding my head along with their words while reading the book almost the whole time. The boy in this scenario, is named John Conlon. Basically he's the quintessential bad boy. He drinks, he smokes, but underneath there's a guy who just wants to be understood and be an individual. Then there's his best friend Lorraine Jensen, who doesn't believe she was blessed with good looks like her slightly abusive and very 'out there' mother or John. Still one day while playing telephone pranks, they come across the number of Mr.Pignati and some how convince the poor, old, and obviously lonely man that they are calling to ask him to donate for a charity. The story just balloons out from there. The book is amazing. It most definately should be a must read on everyone's list. To read about two teenagers and how they learn to love each other and this lonely man is just inspiring. And though the book eventually comes to end (but there is a sequel to satistfy the rest of you, and me, he he he), these characters will definately live on in your mind. And if they don't, then I believe you are truly missing out. This book is one of the hidden gems. My mom read it in her English class and now I'm reading it. Don't miss this book for the world! I'm very glad that I didn't.
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on April 8, 1999
Introduction Paul Zindel has written many books, but I will focus on The Pigman. The book is about two teenagers that had problems with their parents, and did unusual things, such as prank calls. John and Lorraine made a prank call to a man who was very lonely, his name was Mr.Pignati.
When the story opens, we see two teenagers, John and Lorraine who had troubled parents. Their parents didn't have a good influence on either one of the teens, so therefore they did things differently. John and his friends had set up prank calls to raise money for John's drinking and cigarette habits. In the process they made a call to a man who was very lonely, and he liked to talk a lot, and tell jokes. John and Lorraine went to visit the old man, but they knew there was something wrong with him because he was always happy about seeing people. They later found out that his wife had died, and the only friend that he had at the time was a caged baboon named Bobo. They became friends with Mr.Pignati but later they betrayed him.
The characters in this novel are realistic because it shows us what early teenage lives are all about in society.
In conclusion, I would recommend that teenagers and adults read this novel. I read this book in Braille, due to a vision impairment that I have, but I really enjoyed the book to the fullest. The story kept me in suspense, and I couldn't wait to keep reading to see what was going to happen next. If you would like to read a very enjoyable book with lots of suspense, then The Pigman book is the book that you should read. I hope that other people had so much fun reading this book as what I had.
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on September 28, 2001
What comes to your mind when you think about two kids who find everything a bore and an old plump man? In the novel, The Pigman, Paul Zindel takes this idea and makes an adventure out of it. Sophomores, John and Lorraine, are not exactly your average high-school children; going to school is like being enslaved, and they both can't seem to please their parents. To pass extra time, they make prank calls. One day, they call an old, balding man with a big fat grin pasted across his face, Mr. Pignati, who they call the "Pigman." Just by spending time with Mr. Pignati, they are slowly but surely killing him. From the first chapter, The Pigman grabs the reader's attention. One reason that it may do so is because of its many exciting cliffhangers. Many of its chapters start in a pleasant way but end with something readers might never think could happen, making them want to read on and on. Unfortunately, this novel also has a couple parts that are not enjoyable. For example, towards the end of the book, it gradually becomes disturbing. Although this part may bother readers, they will probably find the rest of the book well written and a fun to read. Due to this book's tendency to become upsetting, I am guessing that readers ages eleven and up will enjoy this novel in the numerous ways that I did. After reading this book it makes me realize that I should not take anything for granted because if we do, it will soon be gone.
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on May 3, 2000
There are many reasons why I give this book a rating of four stars. I loved this book! The Pigman is a heartwarming story about two teenagers, John and Lorraine, who have trouble "fitting in" at school. They don't have many friends, and they both have bad parents. They come to befriend and love an old, balding man named Mr. Pignati who provides them with an environment where they can talk about their problems and have fun. The thing that I least liked about the book was the details Zindel gave about John, how he cussed, smoked, and drank. I guess I didn't like that because I can't relate. For those who are looking for a good book to read, who appreciate sadness as well as humor, I highly recommend this book.
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on December 2, 1999
Now an adult, I remember reading this book in middle school. I remember how much I enjoyed it so much, that I went back and read it again! I definately suggest this to any young adult, and even some adults. It is easy reading and presents alot of events crucial in those teenage years. Anger, death, committment, & sorrow are a few topics hit on. It also has a cute pictural story that may just help you pick the perfect mate!
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on November 20, 1999
Well I'm in grade 9 and we read this book in English class. And I thought it was a real good book. It talks about how two ordinary teens, John and Lorraine gets into a situation where they learn so much. At their own homes, it doesn't feel like a family but when they encounter an old lonely man, Mr.Pignati, they suddenly feel something they've never had or felt, love. But the ending was pretty shocking and it just leaves you in midair, not knowing what had happened. So the end, you'll have to make up your own story. But overall, it was an exciting and great story. I recommand everyone for all ages to read this book.
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