Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I want to post some responses to the readings, too, but I think it makes the most sense for me to do it after. I mean, I don't want to give away answers to quizzes and let people who didn't do the reading get credit! And I think it makes sense, when necessary, to extend or comment on our discussion. I did love out discussion yesterday. We covered the range of issues I wanted to cove as well as ideas and points I didn't plan on, and I was glad to see some disagreement about which essay was stronger and such.

I'm a fan of both essays, but they are very different. Reading "The Fourth State of Matter" by JoAnn Beard again, I wonder if she takes too long to get to plot, to the "meat" of the narrative. I mean, I love the stuff about the dog and think it's important. It says a lot about her passivity and about her compassion. If she cut the part about the squirrels, would we be losing something? We would lose the great description I pointed out in class of the former beauty queen now able to herd goats and express the anal glands of a dog. It's a good question to consider, though. You don't want to lose readers before getting to the deeper substance of your piece.

Bernard Cooper's "101 Ways to Cook Hamburger" is different. It's not as linear or plot-driven, true. After class, I was thinking about the essay, and I think Cooper, who is just as passive as Beard, is an observor, a thinker, who spends his time watching people. Because of his fear, he hangs back. There's not much of a plot since he doesn't do much of anything. I do like his portrait of Theresa. She sounds fascinating, and he provides just enough that I feel like I can see her (even if he doesn't give a lot of details about her looks).

Both of these writers describe poeple well. Perhaps that's because of their passivity, the fact that they sit back and watch others do things. Pay attention to those descriptions; they'll help with the first essay.

1 comment:

  1. I'm coming to the party a bit late (hurricane evacuation and all), but wanted to drop in a bit about Beard's essay. I do think that the long passages dealing with the dog are important in that they establish the monotony of grief that Beard is caught up in long before she loses her colleague/friend. I think that we need to see that baseline to understand her situation more fully.