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Don Delillo and June Jordan

December 12, 2012

Yesterday I mentioned that I thought these two authors should be read once people have consolidated an advanced level. I would like to explain why. But just remember that what we can or cannot actually do depends above all in our resolution to embark on that! I do support people reach out for the moon.

I read White Noise and was so fascinated by it that I wrote a paper on it, “Dissenters Are Never Superheroes.” I also typed a couple of examples from the novel, on supermarkets — if I remember correctly. Bits that I thought students could understand better. Here is the link to that, in case you are interested: Don DeLillo at Talking People.

soldierAbout June Jordan, I’m reading Soldier. A Poet’s Childhood at the moment, and its true that you would be able to understand a lot of the passages. But there are other bits where Black English (or should we say Ebonics?) is used. Also, she’s extremely poetic. She writes narrative granting it the power of words in poetry. And I know appreciating poetry is not a priority in people’s lives, so that’s why I’m reluctant to recommending her books at this B2/C1 level. But if you had a consolidated C1 level, I think you should read her! 😀 Here is an excerpt (pages 133-6), but don’t imitate her paragraphing here, at least not in exams (yes, she often creates a new paragraph with one sentence, and she also arranges some bits of sentence as if it were a poem. This is literature, not an academic exercise! 🙂 :

In a way, fighting was a huge relief. So I didn’t mind it too much.
Way more than maybe getting beat up, I hated being afraid of anything.
That was creepy in the extreme: Walking around scared.
And I felt that a lot,
because I never knew when my mother or
my father was going to hit me, or why.
I suppose I came home from school at very different times after three.
It depended on what kind of a sight lasted how long.
Even if you were not the one targeted for the main fight that day, you couldn’t just sidestep the big action of your peers.
You were supposed to stay there, shoving and yelling, and also improving your own fighter abilities by observation. Plus, every single fight changed somebody’s status.
And you had to catch that news as it went down.
Your own reputation would suffer or plummet if you didn’t know, day by day, the winners.
But besides all this, I got into fights at school about once a week at least. And whenever I went outside the house to play for an allotted hour, or an hour and a half, that meant I’d be fighting:
Another little girl, or a group of other little girls, would insult or jump me, and pretty quick I’d be banging away with my fists and keeping my chin tucked down. If and when I actually got hurt, I’d suddenly go ballistic. Around where I lived, people said I had “a terrible temper” and that I was “crazy” if you got me mad.
At any rate, I seldom came home from school right away.
Maybe that’s why they beat me.
I never had a wristwatch, so I seldom came home exactly after an allotted hour or an hour and a half.
Maybe that’s why they beat me.
I don’t know.
But I’d ring the bell sticking out of the brownstone beside the iron gate door to our house.
And I’d wait.
Then my mother would shuffle toward
the gate and click it open.
I’d step down to enter the house.
And sometimes, just as I’d be
coming in right past my mother, she’d
just knowck me down. And I’d
cringe there on the concrete, waiting for the next blow.
But with my mother, there was never
a second or third attack.
I was down.
It was over.
And I never knew why about the whole thing.
I never hit her back. She was my mother.
And she was like a girl.
But with my father, the beating turned into a fight between us.
He’d start with a series of fake questions, and what I’d understand, basically, was that there was nothing I could say to derail his furious sarcasm and his gathering rage.
It seemed he needed to frighten me first with his words and his voice.
Then he’d rush at me, either by himself or with something he’d pick up as he lunged.
And he’d tell me I was being disrespectful if I didn’t just sit or stand in place and make myself take it “like a man.”
I was consistently disrespectful.
I ran. I ducked. I threw things back. I tried to escape.
Once I ran out of the house for several blocks in my pyjamas. And he chased after me and, at last, caught me and beat me–in public.
And he said now I should be ashamed.
But I thought he should be ashamed.
That was my opinion.
I did not like being picked on or
beat up.
I did not like things happening
to me out of the blue.

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