I Am the Cheese
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Cover of a Laurel Leaf edition
|Genre||Young adult novel, crime fiction|
|Publisher||Alfred A. Knopf (imprint Pantheon Books)|
|Media type||Print (hardcover & paperback)|
|Pages||233 pp (first ed.ition)|
|LC Class||PZ7.C81634 Iac|
I Am the Cheese is a crime novel by the American writer Robert Cormier, published in American and British hardcover and paperback editions all during 1977. In the U.S. Knopf published the hardcover under its Pantheon imprint and Dell the softcover under Laurel Leaf, its mass-market paperback imprint for teens. Its Library of Congress Subject Headings are intelligence service fiction and organized crime fiction.
Protagonist Adam Farmer is biking from his home in the fictional town of Monument, Massachusetts (based on Cormier's home town of Leominster, Massachusetts). Interspersed with the story of his journey are memories of Adam's previous life with his parents, his love for prankster Amy Hertz, and the discovery that he is not who he seems to be.
- Adam Farmer (Paul Delmonte) – teenage protagonist
- David Farmer (Anthony Delmonte) - Adam's father, an insurance agent and former newspaperman
- Louise Farmer/Delmonte - Adam's mother
- Amy Hertz - Adam's female friend
- Brint - Adam's questioner and "guide" as his psychotherapist
- Mr. Grey - agent in the Witness Protection Program
- Arthur - a fat man in the town of Hookset who tells Adam of Junior Varney
- Dr. Dupont - a friendly doctor in a mental hospital; Adam is his patient
- Junior Varney - a troublemaker and thief in Hookset
- Whipper - a bully in Carver
This quote is a verse from "The Farmer In The Dell", a song that Adam sings during the book:
The cheese stands alone
The cheese stands alone
Heigh-ho, the merry-o
The cheese stands alone
He sings many of these songs throughout the novel. The song contains several characters, each taking someone with them when the farmer leaves, yet the cheese has nobody.
Adam believes that he is the cheese. He is alone in the world, his mother dead and his father missing, and he lives in a hospital. He thinks that he is not wanted anymore. Also, as in other works by Cormier, there is a dual meaning to the title. The words "I am the cheese" may also represent Adam's feelings of entrapment: himself being the bait used to lure his parents to their murders.[original research?]
Another point was that his father had taught him the song, possibly in a way to reinforce the new name, 'Farmer', they had adopted.
Literary significance and criticism
The 1975 novel I Am the Cheese began Cormier's experimentation with first-person, present tense narration. When Cormier sent the manuscript to the publisher of his previous novel, The Chocolate War, he was confused and depressed, convinced that he was alienating his new young adult audience due to the complex and ambiguous story. However, I Am the Cheese proved to be a success.
Awards and nominations
I Am the Cheese was named to five annual book lists according to the publisher description of the 20th anniversary edition. It won the 1997 Phoenix Award from the Children's Literature Association as the best English-language children's book that did not win a major award when it was originally published twenty years earlier. It is named for the mythical bird phoenix, which is reborn from its ashes, to suggest the book's rise from obscurity.
I Am the Cheese was released as a movie in 1983, directed by Robert Jiras and starring Robert MacNaughton, Hope Lange, Don Murray, Lee Richardson, Cynthia Nixon and Robert Wagner. The screenplay was written by David Lange (Hope Lange's brother) and Robert Jiras.
- 1977, USA, Pantheon Books, ISBN 0-394-83462-3, Pub date ? ? 1977, hardback (First edition)
- 1977, USA, Laurel-Leaf Library, ISBN 0-440-94060-5, Pub date ? ? 1977, ? binding
- 1977, UK, Victor Gollancz, Ltd, ISBN 9780575023727
- 1977, UK, Fontana Lions
- 1997, Knopf, 20th anniversary edition, ISBN 9780394834627, "with a new introduction by the author
- 2007, Knopf, 30th anniversary edition (1st Knopf trade paper) "includes Reader's Guide and interview with the author"
- "I am the cheese" (first edition). Library of Congress Catalog Record. Retrieved 2012-12-13.
- "Phoenix Award Brochure 2012". Children's Literature Association. Retrieved 2012-12-13.
See also the current homepage "Phoenix Award".
- Maslin, Janet (November 11, 1983). "Movie Review: I Am The Cheese (1983)". The New York Times.
- "Formats and Editions of I am the cheese". WorldCat. Retrieved 2012-12-13.
- I Am the Cheese at SparkNotes (analysis)
- Robert Cormier at [Random House] Authors
- I Am the Cheese at the Internet Movie Database