PRETTY sure I have a response due?

Posted: January 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

If I don’t, enjoy it anyway.  NOTE, I had to delete my older post as I came to realize the sentences ran together.  Thanks, copy and paste…

Paragraphs can be a dull topic. Rather than explaining what makes one look sexy and good, I’d rather look at bad examples.  Visuals are hard to produce, so I included the texts I want to discuss.  Visually, they are confusing in their unique way (too much and too little detail).

First, I want to share an excerpt from Hubert Shelby’s book Requiem for a Dream. This example isn’t bad in context: its use fits the over-all theme of the piece (drug use).

Sheeit. You aspect me to ride them mutha fuckin subways with allthem poiverts and winos? Damn. You outta your mine. They rip you off  before you gets anywheres. Hey man, dont go pulling that lazy ass ol black  joe shit on me. Tyrone chuckled, Man, if ah gotta do some travel in then let me call mah man Brody and see what he got. Gimme a dime. Goddamn it man, since when do you need a dime to make a call. Hey baby, ah dont fuck with no phone company. Harry leaned against the phone booth as Tyrone hunched himself around the phone and spoke conspiratorially. After a minute or so he hung up the phone and stepped forth from the booth, a huge grin o nhis face. Hey man, close ya mouth, its hurtin my eyes. You pale-assed muthafucka. You shure wouldnt make it in no cotton fields. Tyrone started walking and Harry fell in alongside him. So whats happenin? Mah man got some dynamite shit baby an wes gonna get us a spoon. They walked up the stairs from the subway separately. Harry looked around for a moment as Tyrone continued down the street, then went to the coffee shop a few doors away.The neighborhood was absolutely and completely black. Even the plain-clothes men were black. Harry always felt a little conspicuous in the coffee shop sipping light coffee and eating a chocolate doughnut. This was the only drag about copping from Brody. He usually had good shit but Harry couldnt go any further than the coffee shop or they would blow the whole scene, or what was almost as bad, he might get his head laid open. Actually the smart thing to do, the really smart thing to do, would be to stay uptown, but Harry couldnt bear to be that far away from the money and the shit. It was bad enough sitting here feeling his stomach muscles tighten and that anxiety crawl through his body and the taste twitch the back of his throat, but it was a million times better than not  being here.

Did you make it all the way through?  Congratulations if you did, that’s a tough piece to read when out of the flow of reading the book.  Also note that there are pages that go on like this.  One paragraph for eight pages, my friends.  The ideas are so crammed together, it is hard to tell where one idea ends and the other begins.  Poor spelling aside (used to create dialect to distinguish the characters), it’s hard to pick-out where Harry stops speaking and Tyrone begins.  Imagine reading an article written like this for a class and needing to pick out specific examples.  The reading states “Well-written paragraphs facilitate quick skimming and help readers stay focused on main ideas…”  Try finding ideas from this book for a book report in a timely fashion. Yes, that was  a dare.  But not quite a double dog dare.

On the other side, if you’ve read sports articles online you’d be hard-pressed to find some good examples of paragraphs as described with Supporting Sentences.  Here is an article from ESPN on a player surprised that his own teammate gave him a good hit in the NFL’s All-Star game (known as the Pro-Bowl):

Johnson evidently was not concerned about hitting Charles less than a month removed from his concussion.

“If you stand back, he’s going to make you look pretty bad,” said Johnson, who had nine tackles in the game. “So I had to go out and really give it to him.

“I would never try to hurt my teammate at all, but compete a little bit.”

Johnson took to Twitter later Sunday night, expressing no remorse for his hit on Charles.

Johnson and Team Rice defeated Charles and Team Sanders 22-21 in the first schoolyard-style Pro Bowl.

Charles, who rushed for 43 yards on five carries, and Johnson both were appearing in their third Pro Bowl.

Completely different from the Hubert Shelby example, and not just for language.  If articles were written like this, skimming would be a nightmare.  Each sentence would contain a completely different idea, and could be placed almost everywhere.  These paragraphs read more like lists of trivia rather than paragraphs.

Retreived from:

  1. thebungerlow says:

    These are really good examples, thanks for sharing. I wonder why Shelby chose not to break up paragraphs, it definitely would take some getting used to to read an entire book in this style.

    • The style is used to mimic the story/characters. The characters are constantly on some sort of drug and always moving and hurried. The writing puts the reader in that zone and puts them in that mindset. It’s a trip to read.

  2. I like the different take you made in this post. Instead of just analyzing the reading you applied its claim on examples of paragraphs from outside sources. Very interesting and thorough work.

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