Cart, Michael 1941-
CART, Michael 1941-
PERSONAL: Born March 6, 1941, in Logansport, IN; Education: Northwestern University, B.S., 1963; Columbia University, M.S., 1964.
ADDRESSES: Home—4220 Arch Ave., No. 10, Studio City, CA 91604. Agent—Sterling Lord Literistic, 65 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10012.
CAREER: Library director, journalist, and novelist. Logansport-Cass County Public Library, Logansport, IN, director, 1967-73; Pomona Public Library, Pomona, CA, director of public services, 1973-76; Beverly Hills Public Library, Beverly Hills, CA, assistant director, 1976-79, director of library and community services, 1979-91; freelance writer, 1991—. Bradshaw Professor, Texas Women's University School of Library and Information Service, 1992. Host and co-producer of In Print cable program, syndicated, 1981—. Parents, children's book editor, 1997—. Young Adult Library Service Association, member of board of directors, 1994-96, vice president, 1996-97. Member, Hans Christian Andersen Medal committee, 1993. Military service: U.S. Army, 1964-67; specialist 5th class; received Army Commendation Medal.
MEMBER: American Library Association (member, best Books for young adults committee, 1988-89; member, Caldecott Medal committee, 1990-91; member, notable children's books committee, 1992-95).
AWARDS, HONORS: John Cotton Dana Award, 1975, 1976; Dorothy C. McKenzie Award for Service to Children and Literature, 1983; City Hall Digest Grand Award, 1990; Educational Press Association of American Distinguished Achievement Award, 1994; National Association of Television Officials and Administrators award, 1990, 1996; Best Book for Young Adults designation, American Library Association (ALA), 1997, for My Father's Scar; Grolier Award, ALA, 1999.
Presenting Robert Lipsyte, Twayne (New York, NY), 1995.
What's So Funny?: Wit and Humor in American Children's Literature, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995.
From Romance to Realism: Fifty Years of Growth and Change in Young-Adult Literature, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.
Presenting Francesca Lia Block, Twayne (New York, NY), 1998.
(Editor) Necessary Noise: Stories about Our Families as They Really Are, illustrated by Charlotte Noruzi, HarperTempest (New York, NY), 2003.
My Father's Scar (young-adult novel), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.
(Editor) Tomorrowland: Ten Stories about the Future, Scholastic Press (New York, NY), 1999.
(Editor) Love and Sex: Ten Stories of Truth, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor, with Marc Aronson and Marianne Carus) 911: The Book of Help, Cricket Books (Chicago, IL), 2002.
(Editor and author of introduction) In the Stacks: Short Stories about Libraries and Librarians, Overlook Press (New York, NY), 2002.
(Series editor and author of introduction) Dave Eggers, editor, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2002.
(Editor) Walter R. Brooks, The Art of Freddy, illustrated by Kurt Wiese, Overlook Press (New York, NY), 2003.
(Editor) Rush Hour: Sin, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to periodicals, including School Library Journal, New York Times Book Review, San Francisco Chronicle, Library Journal, and American Libraries. Columnist for Booklist and Los Angeles Times Book Review, both 1994—.
SIDELIGHTS: Michael Cart is well known to librarians, educators, and readers throughout the United States as an active proponent of quality children's literature. The author of such books as From Romance to Realism: Fifty Years of Growth and Change in Young-Adult Literature to novels and short-story collections, Cart has not only advocated for a body of writing that constructively addresses the issues faced by modern teens of a variety of economic and ethnic backgrounds but has also contributed to it, and has filled a crucial void in literature devoted to teen homosexuals with his novel My Father's Scar. In an interview with Marc Aronsen for School Library Journal, Cart was forthright in his views on the responsibilities related to his chosen career as a librarian: "I would urge librarians to respect the hearts of all of the kids who come within their purview. … to respect their individuality … to bring an aspect of love to their work." Noting that librarians "exist to serve other people," Cart told Aronson that for children and young adults this sometimes means serving "emotional, heart needs."
Writing with what Horn Book contributor Nancy Vasilakis termed "insight and originality," Cart details the development of young-adult or "YA" literature as a genre, a development that began in the early twentieth century with such books as Sue Barton and has gone on to encompass the works of authors such as Judy Blume, Robert Cormier, and M. E. Kerr. Cart maintains that as teens have been increasingly forced by a changing society to deal with more complex topics, such as divorce, drug abuse, sexual pressures, and other social issues, they "need … a literature that describes their world honestly, thereby enabling them to change it," Vasilakis noted. On a less-serious note, his What's So Funny? Wit and Humor in American Children's Literature recalls the many books that have given pleasure to generations of young readers. Including writers such as Aristotle, Walter R. Brooks, Hugh Lofting, Beverly Cleary, and others, Cart divides children's literature into three groups: family comedies, folk and tall tales, and books about anthropomorphosized animals. Noting that, by his choice of authors Cart has identified himself as "a fan of gentle humor," Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor Jon Scieszka noted of What's So Funny? that "the strongest voices in support of Cart's thesis [that children's literature is undervalued by teachers and scholars] are the voices of the writers themselves. He wisely assembles what they have to say, then lets them say it in their own words throughout the book." Lynn Crockett agreed in her review of the book for School Library Journal, dubbing What's So Funny? "a delight to read" and "perfect for both the neophyte and the seasoned children's literature professional."
Among Cart's most significant contributions to YA literature has been his 1996 novel My Father's Scar. Dubbed "an exceptionally well-written book" by Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Linda Roberts, the novel follows the life of Andy Logan as he learns the value of literature, friendship, and his own self before finally being open to a loving relationship. The overweight son of an abusive alcoholic father, Andy realizes he is gay during high school, but is too immature to engage in a relationship. Ultimately, after taking control of his life and finding success as a student, a crush on his college English teacher is the catalyst that allows Andy to sort out his emotional life and accept love from a source that can return it. A Publishers Weekly contributor, noting the "courageous" nature of Cart's novel, maintained that My Father's Scar would likely "win a sympathetic reading from like-minded teens." As Virginia A. Walter noted in her Gay and Lesbian Literature essay, Cart creates "a romantic, complex, richly textured novel which both gay and straight teenagers can read with appreciation for its insights into sexual awakening, first love, and dysfunctional families."
In addition to writing both nonfiction and fiction, Cart has also edited several collections of short stories by other authors. In his 1999 anthology Tomorrowland: Ten Stories about the Future, he includes tales by lesser-known writers as well as works by Rodman Philbrick and Lois Lowry. While Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books contributor Deborah Stevenson noted that Cart's selections "emphasize concept at the cost of emotional involvement or writerly subtlety," In a review of Tomorrowland for the Washington Post Book World, Bella Stander noted that "dismay" permeates the collection, replacing the "buoyant optimism about the 'march of progress' and the wonders of technology that characterized futurist fantasies as recently as 'The Jetsons.' At best," Stander explained, among the writers Cart includes "there is triumph of the spirit over the forced of anarchy, repression, mechanization, or just plain existential uncertainty." Other collections by Cart include Love and Sex: Ten Stories of Truth which focuses on the ways in which teens deal with infatuation, first love, same-sex attraction, and obsessive love. Turning from sex to a less-spicy subject, Cart's In the Stacks: Short Stories about Libraries and Librarians include tales by Zona Gale, Anthony Boucher, Francine Prose, and Alice Munro, all of which Los Angeles Times contributor Bernadette Murphy maintained "echo the magical near-silence" loved by library aficionados, and conjure up "the stillness that allows imagination to take flight."
As Cart commented in Gay and Lesbian Literature, it is important to have books available for younger readers that feature gay and lesbian protagonists. "Not only so that homosexual youth can see themselves positively represented in literature," Cart noted, " … but also so that heterosexual teenagers can read about the homosexual experience and, accordingly, educate and expand their own hearts and minds." "That is why, as a critic, I began writing about the literature," continued Cart, "and why, as a novelist, I write fiction with homosexual themes."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Gay and Lesbian Literature, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998, pp. 76-78.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 1995, Deborah Stevenson, review of What's So Funny?: Wit and Humor in American Children's Literature, p. 329; April, 1996, Roger Sutton, review of My Father's Scar; December, 1999, Deborah Stevenson, review of Tomorrowland: Ten Stories about the Future, p. 126.
Five Owls, May-June, 1996, Susan Marie Swanson, review of My Father's Scar, p. 115.
Horn Book, May-June, 1996, Patty Campbell, "The Sand in the Oyster," pp. 371-377; September, 1996, Nancy Vasilakis, review of From Romance to Realism, p. 625; July, 2001, review of Love and Sex: Ten Stories of Truth, p. 448.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2002, review of 911: The Book of Help, p. 950.
Library Journal, May 1, 2002, Josh Cohen, review of In the Stacks: Short Stories about Libraries and Librarians, p. 137; September 1, 2002, p. 48, and Mirela Roncevic, review of The Best American Nonrequired Reading, p. 175.
Library Quarterly, January, 1997, Virginia A. Walter, review of From Romance to Realism, p. 79; October, 2002, Norman D. Stevens, review of In the Stacks, p. 511.
Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2002, Bernadette Murphy, review of In the Stacks, p. E3.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, August 20, 1995, Jon Scieszka, review of What's So Funny? p. 8; June 10, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Love and Sex, p. 16.
New York Times Book Review, July 28, 1996, Eden Ross Lipson, review of My Father's Scar, p. 21.
Publishers Weekly, March 18, 1996, review of From Romance to Realism, p. 55; May 27, 1996, review of My Father's Scar, pp. 79-80; September 20, 1999, review of Tomorrowland, p. 89; December 23, 2002, review of Love and Sex, p. 73; July 29, 2002, review of 911, p. 74; September 30, 2002, review of The Best American Nonrequired Reading, p. 51.
School Library Journal, June, 1995, Lynn Crockett, review of What's So Funny? p. 43; March, 1996, Claudia Morrow, review of My Father's Scar, p. 132; September, 2000, Marc Aronson, "The World according to Cart" (interview), p. 54; June, 2001, Miranda Doyle, review of Love and Sex, p. 144; September, 2002, Wendy Lukehart, "One Year Later," p. 44, and Joanne K. Cecere, review of 911, p. 241.
Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 1996, Sylvester Spencer, review of Presenting Robert Lipsyte, p. 128; August, 1996, Linda Roberts, review of My Father's Scar, pp. 154-155; December, 1996, p. 253.
Washington Post Book World, May 7, 1995, review of What's So Funny? p. 18; February 20, 2000, Bella Stander, review of Tomorrowland, p. 13.*