Anderson, M. T(obin) 1968-
ANDERSON, M. T(obin) 1968-
PERSONAL: Born November 4, 1968, in Cambridge, MA; son of Will (an engineer) and Juliana (an Episcopal priest) Anderson. Ethnicity: "Caucasian/European." Education: Attended Harvard University, 1987; Cambridge University, B.A., 1991; Syracuse University, M.F.A., 1998.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Candlewick Press, 2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140.
CAREER: Writer. Candlewick Press, Cambridge, MA, editorial assistant, 1993-96; Boston Review, intern; WCUW-Radio, disc jockey. Vermont College, MFA program in Writing for Children, faculty member, 2000—. Has also worked as sales clerk at a department store.
AWARDS, HONORS: Winner, 2002 Los Angeles Times Book Award, and finalist, 2002 National Book Award, for Feed; nominee, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award in nonfiction category, 2002, for Handel, Who Knew What He Liked, and in the novel category, 2003, for Feed.
Thirsty (horror novel), Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1997.
Burger Wuss, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1999.
Handel, Who Knew What He Liked, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.
Feed, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2002.
Strange Mr. Satie, illustrated by Petra Mathers, Viking (New York, NY), 2003.
The Game of Sunken Places, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.
Just Me, All Alone, at the End of the World, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.
Author of reviews for Improper Bostonian.
SIDELIGHTS: M. T. Anderson once commented: "Writing is a kind of weakness, I think. We write because we can't decipher things the first time around. As a reader, I like best those books in which the author, mulling things over for him or herself, enables readers to see a world anew.
"We are so used to the bizarre images, cabals, rituals, and rites that constitute our lives that they seem natural, even invisible, to us. I admire books that facilitate renewed awareness of the way we live, and this is what I'm attempting in my own work: renewed awareness both for myself and, I hope, for my readers. That's my goal, in any case."
Anderson's debut novel, Thirsty, set in a small town in Massachusetts, features a high school freshman named Chris who realizes he is on the verge of growing into a vampire—despite his town's very elaborate and ritualistic attempts to fight the dreaded monsters, which seem to reap a steady New England harvest. "Chris's turbulent transformation . . . is paralleled by and inextricable from the changes of adolescence: insatiable appetite, sleepless nights, and a deep sense of insecurity and isolation," noted Horn Book reviewer Lauren Adams, who added: "The unusual blend of camp horror and realistic adolescent turmoil and the suspenseful plot affirm a new talent worth watching." A Kirkus Reviews critic also praised Thirsty as a "startling, savagely funny debut."
Burger Wuss stars Anthony, who gets a job at a burger joint after catching his girlfriend making out with Turner, who works at the same burger place. Bent on revenge, Anthony dreams up a series of plans to get Turner into trouble; these become increasingly absurd as the novel unfolds. Horn Book reviewer Peter D. Sieruta wrote, "Anderson has an eye for the dark and demented aspects of everyday life."
In Handel, Who Knew What He Liked, Anderson presents anecdotes from the musician's life, such as telling how as a boy Handel smuggled a clavichord past his parents into the attic, and how he created the famous work "Messiah." In addition to these stories, the book also includes a chronology of Handel's life, a discography, and a list of further reading.
Feed presents a chilling view of a future society controlled by "the feed"—an Internet/television-like device implanted in each person's brain. Titus, the book's teenaged narrator, has never questioned the use of this mind-controlling device, or other issues in his society, such as the facts that parents choose the characteristics of their children; corporations control everything; and "School" is a trademarked concept. However, when Titus and his friends go to the Moon on vacation, he meets Violet, who thinks for herself and tells him that the feed is simply a mechanism the corporations are using to control everyone's minds and choices. At the end of each chapter, excerpts from the "feed" show the overwhelming amount of advertising that is barraging everyone in society. According to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, the book offers a "scathing indictment" of our culture's emphasis on corporate and media power. Elizabeth Devereaux, writing in New York Times Book Review, called the book "subversive, vigorously conceived, painfully situated at the juncture where funny crosses into tragic, Feed demonstrates that young-adult novels are live and well and able to deliver a jolt."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 1999, Jean Franklin, review of Burger Wuss, p. 613; December 15, 2001, p. 727.
General Music Today, winter, 2002, Richard Ammon, review of Handel, Who Knew What He Liked, p. 31.
Horn Book, May-June, 1997, p. 313; November, 1999, Peter Sieruta, review of Burger Wuss, p. 732; September-October, 2002, pp. 564-565.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 1997, p. 56; September 15, 2001, review of Handel, Who Knew What He Liked, p. 1352; November-December, 2001, p. 767; September 1, 2002, p. 1301.
New York Times Book Review, November 12, 2002, Elizabeth Devereaux, review of Feed, p. 47.
Publishers Weekly, January 27, 1997, p. 108; August 2, 1999. review of Burger Wuss, p. 86; October 15, 2001, p. 72; July 22, 2002, p. 181.
School Library Journal, December, 2001, Wendy Lukehart, review of Handel, Who Knew What He Liked, p. 117; September, 2002, p. 219.