Margin Notes

Craft Studio: I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You by David Chariandy

Oct
18

What I Was Reading

I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You is a letter written by David Chariandy to his daughter a decade after they were faced with a racist comment on an outing together. The author had taken his then 3-year-old on an outing and was confronted by a woman who told them “I was born here. I belong here.” After a decade of reflection, he writes to his daughter about it, opening with:

“Once, when you were three, we made a trip out for lunch. We bussed west in our city, to one of those grocery-store buffets serving the type of food my own parents would scorn. Those over-priced organics laid out thinly in brushed-steel trays, the glass sneeze guard just high enough for you, dearest daughter, to dip your head beneath it in assessing, suspiciously, the ‘browned rice’ and ‘free-range carrots.’ And in that moment, I could imagine myself a father long beyond the grasp of history, and now caring for his loved one through kale, and quinoa, and a soda boasting ‘real cane sugar.’”

What Moves I Notice the Writer Making

These opening lines immediately set the tone as a letter written by a father to his daughter. The first words, “Once, when you were three…” introduce the memory of a shared experience from a decade prior and the author recreates the event through details that his daughter might not remember because of her age. This serves a second purpose, which is to bring the reader into the event and establish the context for why the letter has been written. He refers to her directly, as “you” and “dearest daughter” creating a tone of intimacy. I felt the authenticity in the message. The writing is heartfelt and honest.

Possibilities for Writers

* Describe a vivid memory of an event you shared with someone by writing directly to that person about the experience.

* Consider options for the kinds of writing that might have an increased impact if they are addressed directly to the audience.

* Revise a draft in your notebook by rewriting it to address your intended audience.

* Find examples of other places where the writer directs their message to the audience and reflect on the impact of this craft choice.

Craft Studio: After the Shot Drops by Randy Ribay

Oct
11

What I Was Reading

After the Shot Drops by Randy Ribay introduces us, through alternating perspectives, to Bunny Thompson, a basketball star who has accepted a scholarship to a prestigious prep school, and Nasir Blake, the best friend and teammate Bunny left behind when he switched schools. As Bunny navigates feelings of guilt over the opportunity he has received and questions whether he has made the right decision, Nas is harbouring feelings of resentment about Bunny leaving without giving him any advance warning and of worry for his cousin Wallace who is being evicted from the apartment where he lives with his grandmother.

Early on, Bunny returns to the neighbourhood court where he has played ball his whole life:

“It’s not as nice as St. Sebastian’s gym, but this is my home court. This is where I started really playing ball with Nasir once we graduated from the low-hanging crate nailed to a telephone pole on our block. I know every crack and dip like the back of my hand. I know if the shot’s going to drop by the sound of the clang when it hits the steel rim. I know the lights click off at ten but you can still see enough to keep shooting if the moon is bright. (more…)