Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Angela's Ashes and Child Perspective

When a kid is explaining to me something that happened in his life, I usually take it with a grain of salt. I don’t think kids are liars, but they tend to exaggerate certain situations and use words that they don’t mean to use. When reading Angela’s Ashes, I was torn whether or not to believe him. The dialect and use of words gave me an image of a kid telling a story, however since it was so insightful with vivid descriptions, it was hard not to believe Frank.

If he was writing this as an adult looking back at his childhood, I feel like it wouldn’t be as real. It might have been more thoughtful, but since I was looking through a child’s perspective, I felt like it was actually happening in front of me. I wasn’t outside looking in, but rather inside his head feeling what he felt, seeing what he saw. The misspelled of words created a more realistic feel of the story. We were really able to get in the head of character. Frank does a good job of describing what he saw and letting the reader into his mind as well. He had a good balance of inner dialogue and what was happening around him.

This is what writing in present tense does for me. You are with the character which doesn’t know what will happen in the future. When something is written in past tense for me, it’s like watching a movie that you know the ending already. It’s more exciting for me when the character does not know how it’s going to end. This I feel puts you more into the story. I tend to follow the character better and try to figure out what will happen next instead of knowing the general outcome already.

Writing Exercise:

Thanh Huynh’s Writing is Ugly.
My dad is yelling at me. Does he know I don’t understand what he is saying? We’re in America, please speak American. Getting a B on a report card isn’t the worst thing in the world. Plus it was a B in handwriting. I write fast. People who write slow finish last. Plus it was a B… in handwriting. Who really cares? People can still read what I wrote. I just write small. I have small hands. I don’t know how to write big yet. He is giving me a weird look now. I guess he’s done talking. I should probably say something.
“Yes, I will do better next time.”

The hardest part in writing in a child’s perspective to me is making sure the voice of the words is of a child. There were a bunch of times that I would use words that second grade me wouldn’t even know. I know that as a kid, I didn’t have long insightful thoughts. They were usually quick and straight to the point. I had a lot of fun though doing this exercise. It’s cool to see what I felt as a kid.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dinesen and the Lost World

I think now more than ever that people would find Dinesen's description of Africa like it's a lost world. His descriptions of Africa are very detailed; describing the land and animals of this place.  Dinesen tells us how we are supposed to feel and think of this lost world, by putting us in the story by telling it in the second person.

"Everything that you saw made for greatness, and freedom, and unequalled nobility." When someone describes something to me as freedom and greatness, I imagined a scene from the Lion King where everywhere it's just an open plain where animals roam with nothing to worry about. I feel a little uneasy of not being able to think of a place that he is describing. I've hiked mountains, did trails, and went to jungles in Vietnam, however I always new just like a 30 minute drive away I could be in a city where I can get a wireless internet service.

By telling it in second person, I feel like it's his way of showing people what this place is really like. It would be easy to describe it in first person, however I'm sure he knew that a lot of people haven't seen like a place like this before, so it would be hard for them to relate. By doing it in second person, he can tell the reader directly this how you feel, act, and thought about being in Africa.

I read somewhere that a lot of people still think of Africa as jungle place where you would see a zebra just walking around in the streets. I guess that's not the case, since it's been really modernized in the past 50 years. Everyone has cell phones and computers over there.

My favorite part of the introduction is the first paragraph on page 348 where he describes the animals. He's describing it in first person, "I had seen a herd of Buffalo....I had seen a herd of Elephant...I had seen the royal lion..." When I read it out loud, I felt like I was reading poetry. It had a great flow to it and I can imagine what these animals felt like/looked like to Dinesen.

I'm currently in South Korea now and a lot of it has been Westernized. For some people it's really cool since if they missed American meals, they can go to a McDonalds or call McDonalds. Yes, McDonalds does delivery here.  You have to go far and know where to look if you want to get the real culture of South Korea.

After reading the whole intro, it makes me sad that their isn't a place like this close to me where I can visit. I want to ride a Giraffe.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings centers around the story of the struggling childhood of an African-American girl named Marguerite. Even though it talks about a specific childhood, in a specific time period that in my generation may not have experienced, I feel this was a timeless story. What makes it timeless is the themes that were in the book, which people can relate to. With such themes like racism, sexism, identity, and rape, this book will evoke deep thought to anyone that reads it.

Maya uses vivid descriptions and her sense of humor to recount the hardships she faced as a kid. Her use of dialogue and wording of sentences made it seem very geniune as a young child was writing it. She established her voice well from beginning to end. We could see the growth of the voice as she grew older. It's incredible that she experienced all of these things in a lifetime, let alone before she was 18. One event in particular was at the end in the story wher she decides to have sex with a guy because she was worried that she wasn't a female. She then gets pregnant and finally accepts who she was as a mother to end the book.

There was a lot of shocking moments for me just in the last 20 pages. I found it amazing though that she just took it in stride. I never read this book before, so I was quite shocked at the ending. It was an ending that I didn't see, kind of what a fictional writer would do. But since it's real, you know this person is something special. To me this story represents the idea of the “American dream.” Only in America where someone can endure so much pain and still rise up and become something better. It gives people hope I think. She was raped, homeless, an unmarried teenage mother, and still was able to work past that and become a very successful writer.

Writing Exercise:

I remember my first day of school. I woke up early because I wanted to dress myself. I didn’t know where mom put my cool Spiderman shirt, so I decided just to wear the clothes that I slept in to school. I had a bowl of Fruit Loops for breakfast. After that I put on my Teenage Mutant Ninja turtle backpack and walked to school with my Mom. The problem was I was still an hour early before school started, so I sat on the front porch, while my mom watered her flowers ears suddenly feel from my eyes when I saw the first kids walk to school. I couldn’t stop crying. I’m not sure what it was. Maybe I was afraid of going to school or the realization that I will be alone with a bunch of strangers. I started walking to school with my mom who was holding my hand.

This exercise was hard for me since I don’t really remember what was going on around me, but just how I felt about the situation. I remember my movements vividly and what I was doing, but I was very unaware the smell, the texture, and the look of the scene. I mean I can pretend what the weather was like, or how the Fruit Loops tasted, but I can't honestly say if that was true or not.