Monday, September 22, 2008
Point of View: A 10-year-old Explains It All
We writer types sit around in workshops and writing groups and such, talking endlessly about tone and voice and point of view, and it's all very interesting of course – at least to us. Then there's this.
My 10 year-old son, home sick from school (but not too sick) is quiet for an hour, reading at the breakfast table. A few times he asks what a word means (frieze). But mostly he is silent, still.
Finally, he looks up, near triumphant. He's read a fairly dense eight-page article by Tom Verducci in the current issue of Sports Illustrated about the history and impending tear-down of storied Yankee Stadium. (Last night our family intermittently watched the final game played in the House that Ruth Built, lumps in throat.)
"Wow, that was a great article! Hey Mom," he says, "It was so cool. It's written like it was the stadium talking."
Indeed. The piece begins, "I am dying. It's O.K. You need not feel sorry for me. I have lived a full life…" and goes on for some 4,000 words in the same vein. (I'm guessing here, but can't you just picture Verducci wondering how to make an article about the legendary stadium stand out from the thousands of pieces he knows will be written this month? He reaches into his voluminous craft bag, considers if writing in the stadium's voice will be enough to make the article a must read. It is.)
So, there's writers opining about POV and feeling as if we are discussing something rather esoteric and incredibly valuable. And then there's a10 year-old taking an hour to read something he did not have to read, then happily identifying and explaining – in case I missed it -- how the choice of POV influences how a piece is read. Priceless.