Thursday, September 10, 2009

Alvarez reading

The Julia Alvarez How-To guide

What did you get out of the Alvarez reading? Today's class discussion brought up several interesting points or sections which stuck in people's memory.

Try to think of why a particular part appealed to you -- even if this question doesn't have a single clear answer.

"Be someone on whom nothing is lost" -- great line, right?

Method in Alvarez's article:

1. How does she use the "kernel" of a good idea? Look at the examples she gives (the poem inspired by what she read in Better Homes and Gardens, or the one she writes after visiting the UN to hear her mother speak). She explains her process of writing in these pages, but notice how different her finished product (the poem) is from her source material (the clipping).

2. How are you going to imitate her method in your own assignment? What are you going to do with the snippet you found about, say, a runaway horse in Central Park -- a short short story? A poem? A musing about how and why a horse came to be loose in Central Park in the first place?

Remember your Essay Toolkit -- what kind of response are you going to write for me? Think about form (simple essay? journalistic style? poem? story? dialogue? play?), style and tone (humourous? serious? facetious? matter-of-fact? sypathetic? unsympathetic?)

Think of yourselves as serious writers who are making a series of reasoned choices each time you write and submit a piece of work.

Finally, here is the homework assignment again, due Monday 14th Sept.:

Go through any of the ‘news’ sources around you – gossip, ads, free newspapers on the train, US Weekly, the Onion, or even ‘serious’ news sources like the NYT – and find one piece that catches your attention, piques your interest. Write a backstory for this piece from your imagination, without recourse to more information.

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