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Non-Fictional Prose

maht91's picture

Where do we find the truth?

ckosarek's picture

Reality Hunger vs. Fun Home - What is plagiarism?

 On Tuesday, we discussed that Alison Bechdel's Fun Home is brimming with literary reference. Bechdel incorporates everything from Joyce to Salinger to Greek mythology in an effort to tell her "own" true story. And many of her allusions are not cited, as she has determined that they are part of culture's collective, general knowledge. I find this an ironic juxtaposition to Reality Hunger, which argues that everything is collective knowledge, yet still cites (albeit begrudgingly) all of its references (we think). In light of this, perhaps Bechdel's work is making a larger point about collective knowledge than Shields' work is, despite that the core intention of Shields' work is to destroy the ownership of ideas. But maybe I'm wrong.

EVD's picture

Reading Fun Home

After our discussion about how to read "Fun Home" I began reading the rest of the book, paying close attention to how I had been reading it because I didn't think it was as easy a read as some others in the class had thought. For me the reading is a little stressful because I feel as though I should be reading at the pace that Bechdel would be thinking it as though its a stream of memories. I feel like my attempting to follow her timeline of events accurately might be preventing me from analyzing the text as much as I might be able to. So I'm wondering how Bechdel would want the book to be read. I find that I read all of the text for each panel before looking at the picture..I even read her labels and the spoken words before looking at the pictures so that I don't miss any of the text.

TyL's picture

My Problems With Reality Hunger

 Ok, so this book pissed me off big time. First of all, it's under Shields' name--by David  Shields, not edited by David Shields. If I hadn't known beforehand that this book was essentially a collection of quotations--a few by him, but most by other people--I would have assumed he was the writer, not usually bothering to check in the index, and his purpose would have been served. Even, however, had I not known, I would have assumed he was a sanctimonious, self-serving elitist asshole, for the simple fact that he made me pay 25 bucks for this book, while espousing the idea that ideas cannot be copyrighted and thus we should just stop trying.

FatCatRex's picture

"Fun Home" without 'Facing the Facts'

 I first read "Fun Home" in Anne Bruder's class on Women's Life Writing last spring. In that class we talked about all forms of life writing--from autobiography to blogging. Towards the end of the semester, we concluded our study with Bechdel's "Fun Home." Unfortunately I don't have my notebook from last semester here to tell me exactly what we discussed with respect to Bechdel, but because it was at the end of the semester, I do remember trying to apply and wrap up many themes we found throughout the course, to Bechdel's work as well. Throughout the course we spent significant amounts of time discussing what gives an author the authority and credibility not just to write, but to write in a way such that we the reader believe them.

ckosarek's picture

Course notes, 9/7/10

 Course record: 9/7/10

ckosarek's picture

Example by action, not words?

  Shields' 'work' is clearly designed to make its point not only through what it says, but how it says it. However, I do question if whether Shields went overboard in his experiment, going so far as to make his book unpalatable. His conceit lies in his rejection of traditional form with the 'cut and paste' method he used to assembling his work. He even goes so far as to suggest that we, his readers, remove those citations at the end of the novel that his lawyers insisted he include. But isn't this overkill? I would have preferred him to preserve his form and not hit us over the head with what he was trying to say. If his argument is valid, won't his form speak for itself?

Smacholdt's picture

Too Much Reality?

 Reality Hunger is definitely a thought-provoking book about the nature of “reality.” I think that it accomplishes what it set out to do in creating an authentic snapshot of information in the modern world. However, since it is not the conventional way of organizing thought in literature, I found the book a bit hard to digest. I think that humans by nature like patters, and it was basically impossible to find any sort of pattern or coherence in Reality Hunger, simply because of what it set out to do. Also, I can understand why Shields takes offense to what he calls the “contrived feel” of popular novels, but I don’t think that most people read novels for the “reality” of them.

EVD's picture

Ideas after class on 9/7

My thoughts about Reality Hunger changed after our discussion today..When I first started reading I thought it would be a lot easier to read the book if it had chapter titles or subtitles that made sense or let you know what you were about to read beforehand or if the segments were in a more obvious order. Someone in class today said something like if you "play the game" that Shields is trying to get us to go along with (reading his work how he wants it to be read- as a collage-type thing) then it really is easier for me to read the book without subtitles or anything like that.

AyaSeaver's picture

There are new ideas

Hi everyone! My name is Aya and I'm a sophomore trying to put together some kind of creative writing/english independent major. I work a lot with memoir. 


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