Monday, 25 February 2013

After a Long Time.......and about Reading "What is the What?"

Wow......... I have finally realised how long I haven't been blogging. It's been a few months since my last post. I should really begin "practicing what I preach" as they put it. In class and in my earlier blog post I talked about how important it is for people to blog and why it is a useful resource to learning both in and out of english class. Well, it looks like I haven't really taken those tips on board. Anyway, I hope that with this post comes a newer and hopefully more positive start to blogging.

Now to the point. Over the past few weeks in English class we've been reading a novel written by Dave Eggers titled "What is the What?". I view it as a fascinating novel about an ongoing conflict which resulted in the losses of thousands of lives as countless homes and jobs. Actually, it's an autobiography of a man named Valentino Achak Deng, a "Lost Boy" from southern Sudan who was caught in the violent conflict between north and south Sudan. The reason that it's been titled as a novel is because of it's structure and the fact that the events recounted by Deng had happened 17 years before. Hence, with some of the conversation between characters in the story, there is an element of fiction. Personally, I feel that this story is an inspiring one already, even though I've only read half of the story up until now. However, the I feel that this story could have been edited much more, as there are too many details included in the story about Deng's life and it tends to get boring in some places because of this. 

I also want to mention that the story is broken up into two parts: the first one being a series of events in the present day when Valentino is being mugged and robbed by some criminals and is later taken to hospital. The second part of the story is when Valentino's telepathic conversations with the characters in the present day- there are many such conversations- lead to Valentino recounting his childhood and the story of his survival. I think this is a personal preference, but I enjoy reading the parts where Valentino recounts his survival through the conflict and his childhood, compared to the present day events. I find those a bit boring to read, because some of his telepathic conversations are too long and the same discussion points are repeated frequently. Also, in some cases, I feel that the author's transitions from present day events to the past within the same chapter are quite abrupt and it takes time for me to get used to the situation being described. Coming to the positives, there are also many to talk about. But for the sake of not rambling, I'll only talk about a few. I feel that the author's portrayal of every scene and moment in the story is fantastic, undoubtedly one of the best I've read. As soon as I start reading the book, within a few seconds I'm completely immersed in it. It feels as though I'm an observer of the events; that I am right beside Valentino and watching everything he is doing, but he isn't affected by my presence. Also, there are some great lines in the story- at least one per chapter- which Eggers adds to the story which really bring out characters' emotions, summarise the paragraph, or even imply certain points. In many ways, I feel that reading a novel such as this one is much better than reading through a news article about Sudan because it really shows more emotion and tells the reader about many small events and happenings during the character's journey; these make a huge difference to the reader's overall view of the topic but are rarely found in news articles. 

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