This month, we concluded our discussion on how to do a close reading by taking a look at the books our OWLS members read and analyzed. As you recall, in July we challenged members to find a technique they wanted to study and then bring their close readings to share. Books like, Something Wicked by Carolyn G. Hart, Submerged by Alton Gansky, The Gold Bug by Edgar Allan Poe, Exodus by Leon Uris and The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. We learned about how to grab a reader with the hook at the very beginning of the book through Rachel Bradt’s annotation on Submerged, descriptive language and detail with Anna Boehlefeld’s sharing of The Gold Bug. How to describe horror and devastation with Sarah Hernandez’s report on Exodus by Leon Uris and Sharon Boehlefeld’s overall summation on Something Wicked.
At the end of the discussion, Dawn shared from her close reading on subtext from The Remains of the Day. In her discussion, she read some from The Art of Subtext by Charles Baxter;
“A novel is not a summary of its plot but a collection of instances, of luminous specific details that take us in the direction of the unsaid and unseen…fiction writers create those visible and invisible details, how what is displayed evokes what is not displayed.”
Subtext is writing the unwritten, it is revealing hidden and unspoken traits, habits, thoughts and emotions in a particular character or characters without actually coming out and writing it. It is in essence, writing between the lines so to speak. In the Remains of the Day, Mr. Stevens’s subtext is his obsession with being a better butler than his father, to the point of being incapable of any emotion other than his idolized worship of his employer, Lord Darlington. Mr. Stevens never comes out and discusses his inability to care for anyone, it is written into the way he interacts with his father, and the others in Darlington Hall as well as his willingness to accept demeaning behavior directed at him by Lord Darlington’s guests.
Overall, everyone brought some really great close readings and came away with a much broader sense of what it takes to analyze reading for themselves. Several said they planned on taking a second look at some of their favorites as well as finding new favorites to start analyzing. The challenge was sent out and everyone agreed to start looking beyond the usual go-to’s for a close reading and instead, broaden their scope of what is available to critique.
We have extended our deadline for The Only Story short story contest until September 17th, 2016. All other rules still apply. Please refer to the Contest Entry Page for further details.
We look forward to reading your stories and poems. The September 2016 meeting will be held on the 17th at the Cardinal Cafe in Stillman Valley, IL. at 1 p.m. Come early if you want to enjoy lunch first and as always, you are welcome to bring a friend. We look forward to seeing you and as always, keep writing!!