Reality Hunger argues that non-fiction writers can use the same techniques and practices as fiction writers, and that the personal essay (or “lyric” essay) is an important form that allows us, as writers and readers, to understand more fully what might generally be called “the human condition”. Keeping your thoughts and posts about Reality Hunger in mind, as well as the lecture material for this week, particularly “Picturing the Personal Essay”,consider how Jo Ann Beard crafted her essay, “The Fourth State of Matter” and post your thoughts to the discussion forum.
You can consider the following prompts to help focus your thoughts about the essay and its construction:
- does Beard use techniques or devices which you would normally associate with the craft of fiction writing?
- why does Beard intertwine three different (if related) subjects (her dog, her husband, her colleagues, particularly Chris)?
- do you think Beard was carefully selective about which facts to include and which to exclude? If so, can you suggest what leads you to this conclusion?
- if you did not know about the real “public” event the essay describes, how did you feel and what did you think when the event was related late in the essay? Why do you think Beard delayed revealing this event? Do you think her choice provided a way to more fully understand how the event affected her?