English 12 — Apr. 24 & 25

These two days: We read and discussed “Thanksgiving in Mongolia” by Ariel Levy, using it to generate writing prompts and study the writer’s techniques.

Writing prompts (choose one for your next composition):

  1. Travel to a place where you know nobody and where everything will be a surprise, and then write about it.
  2. What was your relationship with “adventure” when you were a child? How has that changed or how has it informed the way you are now?
  3. Apart from typical “adventures,” ________________ seemed like the wildest trip of all.
  4. There is no adventure I would trade this for.

Techniques to imitate:

  1. Narrating an altered psychological state:
    • Note how the writer narrates her dazed state immediately after giving birth. How does she convey that psychological state? Where else in the story does she show some detachment or alienation from herself?
      • “either I blacked out from the pain or I have blotted out the memory. And then there was another person on the floor in front of me, moving his arms and legs, alive. I heard myself say out loud, ‘This can’t be good.’ But it looked good. My baby was as pretty as a seashell.” (p. 105)
      • The third paragraph on page 105.
      • “I was vaguely aware that there was an enormous volume of blood rushing out of me, and eventually that seemed interesting too.”
      • “confusingly, the handsomest man in the world came through the door”
      • “I heard myself tell a horrified saleswoman”
  1. Using a controlling metaphor
    • Note the repetition of the witch metaphor:
      • “It seemed like magic: a little eye of newt in my cauldron and suddenly I was a witch with the power to brew life into being.” (p. 102)
      • “I was still a witch, but my powers were all gone.” (p. 107)
      • “The ten or twenty minutes I was somebody’s mother were black magic. . . . I realize that I have turned back into a wounded witch, wailing in the forest, undone.
  1. The use of figurative language and description.
    • Descriptions of people:
      • Tsetse Munkhbayar
    • Descriptions of places:
      • “Everything was new: the taste of spring-bok meat, the pink haze over Cape Town, the noise and chaos of the corrugated-tin alleyways in Khayelitsha township.”
      • “My Greek publisher and his wife took us out dancing and drinking, and cooked for us one night in their little apartment, which was overrun with children, friends, etc.

Homework: Consider the topic you will write on. We will begin drafting our composition on Friday.


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