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From the remaining chapters (from chapter 6), choose 3 or 4 or 5 sentences that you want to “study.” From too much and not the mood by Chew-BoseYou can follow my lead (see document used in class Tuesday) or you can conceive of your own analytic approach to the sentence. The key to this exercise is to bring your focus to the level of the author’s sentences and try to fathom what she’s doing there.
Studying sentences from Chew-Bose: What’s to learn from someone else’s (excellent) prose? (Surely, envy occurs, but if you can move past that snippiness—what’s on the other side?)
• “These older girls created landmarks out of picnic tables.”100• “I was, back then, a decade or so away from clocking my brownness, from taking notice of its veiled prominence in my life. I wasn’t so much blind to it, but uninvolved in it. Emotionless about it.” 101• “Those older girls were on to something. They collected boyfriends in neighboring schools as if expanding the real estate of their allure. These older girls were wise to the curve and clout of their bodies…netting attention….I still remember most of their names—both first and last. They pleat my memory with singsong.” 104-5• “Backyards, for me, have either been fiction or totally spooky. There are few things more unnerving than when, in the dead of night, a backyard light
motion-detects something but reveals nothing.” 105
• “I was a girl upstairs in her room with the door closed, growing hostile. Impenetrable and uncertain. A combination that only seemed to accelerate maters and freshly renew my sensitivity to other families, mostly white, and their mountain-topped superiority….In my mind, these families were an avatar for goodness. Well-organized thoughtfulness. My envy churned thick since I wasn’t yet teenage, and happening upon the translucent blahs that arrive with those years.” 109
• “There’s no suitable language for feeling adrift when on paper you seem all right.” 128• “…the blunt quiet in my apartment…momentarily…impassable” 133• “Feeling miserable is, by nature, a spiraling condition” 130• “Concern, far beyond my scope, was compacted into me” 128• “You’ve not so much witnessed sadness but sleuthed it.” 131• “What I’m sure of is the dead squirrel’s body and how I can’t unsee its dark brown corpse like a blotch of balsamic in our aqua-blue pool. That house, its backyard, the lilac bush, my green shag carpet, the older girls, the boys, the squirrel, still wind me up. Like omens I neglected, like apprehensions I would only later—much, much later—understand as how my body was, in its way, anthologizing my childhood.” 125
Document used on Tuesday:
While studying these sentences—writing them out (above), reading them aloud, re-reading them silently–I notice:
1. the spoken-ness of these sentences…comes from how many begin with a subject, the author claiming it (for me, to me, I was…), and then a thought that unfolds as it would in real time conversation but also….with a polished feel maybe because of the well-timed modifying phrases and clauses that delay the end of the sentence.
2. the writing, though ‘personal’ in the sense of being revelatory of her self, the composition of her self, is clinical, intellectual—like Montaigne’s—it blocks together, like Legos, all these nouns that fit into image. Lots of sentence fragments that serve as modifying phrases. As for energetic verbs, she doesn’t over do them; she finds a lot of them in (converted) adjectives and nouns: compacted, clocking, anthologizing.
3. Chapter 2 is about here “deeply honed unease.” 101. Chapter 3 is about convolutions of miserable-ness. Both are “negative feelings” in the sense of feelings we’d rather not have too much of, or if having them, would rather move quickly away from. I don’t get the sense that she has in her naming and history of her discomfort been liberated from it. Its more like she’s befriended it, so it won’t have the chance to grow and suddenly show up and sink her.