PART ONE: READ
Read this excerpt from the chapter entitled “CV” (Links to an external site.) from Stephen King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.
- SHOULD I LISTEN TOO? It’s not required, but….It will help you gain a deeper understanding of the memoirs if you also listen to King read them–hearing the inflections and emphasis in his voice will deepen your interpretation. Especially if English is not your first language and you are still learning to read English effectively, listening while also looking at the words can be very helpful.
In order to analyze a text, you have to look at it very closely, which means you’ll end up reading it (or parts of it) more than once. Try experiencing the memoirs you read for this class a few different ways to help you understand them more deeply: read and listen at the same time; read only; listen only. Mix it up.
TIP: Before you read, look at the items below–these are what you’ll have to write about in your annotations. Then as you read, focus your reading so that you’re looking for and thinking about these items.
It’s always important to focus your reading, no matter what it is you’re reading– you should know why you’re reading something so that you can know what to focus on as you go.
PART TWO: ANNOTATIONS
Reply to the Discussion, and in your post, include your answers to the 6 items below; the minimum response for each item is noted in yellow highlight.
1. WHO IS THE AUTHOR?
What do you know about Stephen King? You might know, in general, that he’s one of the most widely read American authors, ever. But you should learn a little more–It’s a really good idea to always know something about the author you are reading. Knowing something about him/her will help you predict what you’ll be reading, which will help you have a better overall understanding of the text.
After researching and reading a little about Stephen King, write 1-2 sentences about him and his accomplishments as a writer.
2. FIRST RESPONSE
What was your immediate reaction to reading this memoir? Did you enjoy reading it? If so, can you identify something specific about it that made it pleasant? If you didn’t enjoy reading it, can you identify something specific about why?
Write 2-3 sentences minimum as a first response.
3. SNAPSHOTS METAPHOR
The word memoir comes from the Latin word for memory, and King begins his memoir by making some comments about the way his memory works. He compares himself to another writer, Mary Karr. He uses photography metaphors to make the comparison: her memoir is a “panorama” but his are “snapshots–most out of focus” (18).
If you need to brush-up on what metaphor means,click here for a video to help you (Links to an external site.)
Let’s focus in on the metaphor: what do you picture in your mind when you think of a panorama? what do you picture when you think of a snapshot that is out of focus? How will King make the visual idea of a snapshot out of focus translate into the written medium of words in a story? Look for how his structure and style reflects the idea of the snapshot.
- Find some excerpts that show how King’s memory is out of focus and summarize them
- Explain how the structure of the chapter (how it is organized) relates to the idea of a snapshot
Write 1-2 sentences for each of the bullets above.
4. DEFINITIONS. King tells us that this book is not an “autobiography,” it’s more like a “curriculum vitae.” He also sub-titled the book “Memoirs” of the Craft. You worked with all three of these terms last week on vocabulary.com (autobiography, curriculum vitae, and memoir). Let’s put that learning to use this week:
- Define each one in your own words (don’t just copy/paste from a dictionary–work on making these definitions your own). In your sentences, write about the similarities and differences between these 3 closely related ideas, and explain how King is using “CV” metaphorically. Write 1-2 sentences.
- If these snapshots are part of King’s CV for becoming a famous writer (mostly of horror stories), what specifically happened to him in his childhood that you think influenced who he became? In other words, identify 2 or 3 excerpts where he describes his childhood, and you think these excerpts illustrate something that formed him as a famous writer. Write 1-2 sentences.
5. CHOOSE ONE SNAPSHOT AND SUMMARIZE. As you are reading, make mental note that there are 8 distinct “snapshots” in this excerpt. Choose ONE snapshot that you like the most–either because you can relate to something in it or because it made you laugh, or because it made you think about something you hadn’t thought of before–or any other reason that it stands out to you when you look at all of them.
Summarize what happens in the snapshot you’ve chosen and explain why you chose it as your favorite. Besides the content (what happens), is there anything about King’s writing style that contributes to why you like this snapshot? Can you identify something about his style that is appealing? Write 2-3 sentences.
6. IDENTIFY QUOTATIONS & EXPLAIN YOUR CHOICES. Later this week we’ll be writing our own “snapshots” of childhood memories–one of the requirements will be to include a person who was important to our development (someone who helped shape who we are). In these snapshots, King tells us how his mother and their relationship shaped him into who he is.
Identify TWO excerpts (no more than 3 sentences for each excerpt) where King writes about the impact of his mother–identify what you think are the BEST EXAMPLES of how his mother impacted him (in other words, don’t just copy the first two sentences you see about his mother–choose carefully).
- Type each excerpt out (be careful as you replicate it that you get all the words, punctuation, and spelling correct).
- Put each one in quotation marks, and then follow each one with an MLA citation. That should look like this:
“Here is the quote I typed out from King’s memoirs” (15).
- After each excerpt, write 1-2 sentences that explain, in your own words, what this quotation tells us about the impact King’s mother had on who he is.