Fearless Memoir: World’s Fair, (Chapter 23)
The book World’s Fair, written by E.L. Doctorow, is a true story of how a South Carolina’s family took a motor-home road trip to Montreal’s World’s Fair in 1967. In this book, Stack is seen to elucidate on the story. He was fifteen-year old at that time. In Chapter 23: “Topsy-Turvy,” the story sheds a bright light on critical issues of family violence, adolescent sexual confusion, alcoholism and the need to show love to those who hurt one, despite their shortcomings. In this chapter, the writer uses strong language with mild drug use and sexual content to convey his ideas. This paper illustrates how Stack uses creative non-fiction writing to tell his personal experiences. The paper will illustrate how he uses risk, the intended audience and whether this worked for him.
E.L. Doctorow begins with introducing some of the favorite lines of the songs they were listening to with his friend Gee. This brings his audience closer home as they can understand what the story is about. The two seem to have much fun listening to their favorite radio station. They do this often, and they know well the words of the songs they like. He says:
We were having a blast! I couldn’t wait to be 16 so I could drive without an adult (Stack, 2012).
At fifteen, the teenager enjoys his final minority year; they eagerly wait to turn 16, since then they will enter adulthood. The writer portrays adulthood as a stage at which one can do whatever he or she wants. No one will control your movements and behavior, unlike in the minor years where one’s parents take full control of his or her actions. He thinks that, at 16, he will drive when he likes and as often as he likes.
E.L. Doctorow hopes to become a celebrity when he grows up. He wants to join the Broadway when he grows up. He mentions some of the celebrities he knows such as Tennessee Williams, Rodgers and Hammerstein. At his age, he strongly believed that advancing his scholarly education was not necessary. He tells Gee that he would not proceed with a college education. Now that he knows about his talent already, he would go straight to Broadway.
Then, they started discussing their parents. The author thinks that daddy would shoot them, but his twin sister is of different opinion. Her mother already informed her that daddy’s weapon has no bullets. Their mother told Gee about that little secret. In addition, the author is not ready to tell his mother about his plans to join Broadway instead of going to college. This shows that there is more communication between the mother and the daughter than between the mother and son.
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The teenagers partied all night long. Though the author was wearing out, Gee gave him a drug to energize him, which kept him stronger up to the next morning. The author kept reminiscing of the happy times he spent with his father. When they came to Bunnie Ann’s, she invited them, and each of them took a shower there. When the author took a glance at himself in the mirror, he looked old, and his face looked shrunken. He had a hangover. He went to rest but failed to relax. He kept thinking about his father and these thoughts made him hysterical. He cried furiously wondering why they left their father.
This article, at my first reading strikes me by the fact that somebody could comfortably write about his private life. Writing a memoir is extremely risky itself. Bringing one’s life experience to the public knowledge is somehow uncomfortable, but possible. In this article, the writer takes the risk of talking about not only himself, but also other people around him. He tells the story of his father and his sister. These are the stories of delinquency, drug abuse, and use of weapon, which are unacceptable in the society. It is such a bold step that the writer decided to write a true story of some people who went through all these.
In this article, the author mainly targets are teenagers and parents. The main reason behind this is to explain what lays ahead of the subjects in the text. He brings out the social life of teenagers; what is necessary to them and their views on sensitive matters. For instance, he shows how the teenagers love current music and how the music occupies most of their time. He takes the risk of quoting in his text some musical lyrics that do not follow grammatical rules. The article is not appropriate for some audiences such as young children. It has necessitated a lot of queries from the audience as they seek to read between the lines.
The author takes on some controversial, risky topics, for instance, sexuality. Penis size remains one of the most controversial issues in society. He says:
shrunken heads from Africa and that is what my dick reminded me of, it was so tiny (Stack, 2012).
Many would term the act of comparing his private parts with Africans as racism. He shows how teens are sensitive about their sexuality; he did not know about puberty changes. He had to ask his father what was happening to his organs when he realized that pubic hair was almost sprouting from his genitals. The author decides to talk about this so that the society can clearly elucidate on what he was trying to draw home and apply it. These are normal happenings in the society and should not be a thing to worry about.
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Another risk that the author takes is usage of offensive language. He talks about “a fart, dick, and killing.” This is a hard language. In addition, the article looks a bit disorganized. He does not organize his work into consistent paragraphs. He writes in ordinary language and does not follow even some of the basic grammatical rules (Stack, 2012). Throughout their conversation, the songs in the radio keep interrupting their discussions. Once a song they love plays on the radio, they find themselves singing along and mimicking the singers. The songs are mostly love songs. They sang along and danced along. Additionally, the author punctuates the conversations with a cigarette or two. He calls them “cigs,” and often takes a coke. Intake of soft drinks is also a critical issue among the young people today. One can clearly see the effects of these habits. One of them is the way he often pees. He has lost control over his bladder. He says that:
I was going to pee in my pants if Gee didn't stop (Stack, 2012).
Secondly, on the following day after using drugs and smoking cigars, he looked shrunken and old. He, also, is skinny. In addition, abusing cigars and drugs does not help him overcome his problem. He, instead, undergoes hysteria and depression upon coming back to reality (Stack, 2012).
The article, also, has its shortcomings. The author presents the problems and their consequences but does not give any recommendations. The article’s message is about addiction and recovery. Though the article is addresses to the teenagers, it lacks effective solutions. In addition, he brings out the issue of family violence but does not offer any way out.
I believe the author achieves his mission of conveying his message to the audience. He achieves this by using absolute and engaging conversations to enlighten his audience on the ills of drug abuse, smoking and delinquency. In addition, he reminds his audience that teenagers dream about and plan their future. He already has decided to work in the entertainment industry and is truly determined. Being a memoir, this article attracts many readers since it is intriguing to read the real story that happened to somebody. Reading this article and seeing what the author went through will scare young people from doing what he did. Furthermore, many social sites and formal blogs have adopted this story for use in addressing addiction and recovery, family violence, fear and inspiration among other issues. It is not just a crazy piece of written; it is an informative article.