Avery Corman penned Kramer vs. Kramer back in 1977 and had no idea that it would totally change the landscape of divorce in America. He learned later that the book was cited more in divorce proceedings than actual legal precedent. “More men asked for custody, but that wasn’t the only thing the book did. It made men more likely to ask for more active visitation rights, and it made women more likely to say yes to that. It gave permission to both sides to have men be more active.” Nearly 40 years later, the book still holds up, and the author is at BEA signing the first trade paperback edition of the groundbreaking book (Barricade Books, May).
Corman tells Show Daily, “The stimulus for all this is the hardcover publication of my first nonfiction book, which is, My Old Neighborhood Remembered (Barricade Books, June). It’s a memoir of my growing up years in the Bronx in the 1940s and the 1950s. I’m of that generation of people who remember what it was like to be on the home front during WWII. The publisher thought it would be nice to go back and publish my novels in trade paperback, which they had not been before.”
Kramer vs. Kramer, his third novel, was written in the ’70s during a politically heated time between the sexes. Corman says, “It was prompted by what was the most important thing in my life, which was having become a father. We were right in the middle of all the rhetoric connected to the women’s movement, with men being called out for not being productive in households and just being concerned with their own work and careers. Quite honestly, I didn’t see the world through the eyes of some of the more radical feminists. I was a freelance writer, and I was around all the time. My kids’ daddy was never anywhere but home. I wanted to right the balance of fatherhood vs. motherhood. I thought if I wrote a book that showed an active father, I’d be able to make the point that men could be good parents, too.” The movie rights were sold before the book was published, and it ended up being sold to 50 countries.
Corman reread the book when it was reset in this new version. “But for the dollars mentioned in the book—the salaries, costs of housekeepers, baby sitters, things in the store—it didn’t seem dated. There’s a dynamic between the characters that I don’t think has changed. People still get married and bring expectations into those marriages that aren’t fulfilled. People still have anger about their situation. They still get divorced and still have to relate to their children. I didn’t know it at the time, but it’s turned out to be a timeless predicament for people.”
Today, at 11:30 a.m., the author is at Table 10 in the Autographing Area.