Friday, October 11, 2013

First Paragraphs are So Important

Let's consider the first paragraph of We the Animals by Justin Torres. I quote:

We wanted more.  We knocked the butt ends of our forks against the table, tapped our spoons against our empty bowls; we were hungry.  We wanted more volume, more riots. We turned up the knob on the TV until our ears ached with the shouts of angry men.  We wanted more music on the radio; we wanted beats; we wanted rock.  We wanted muscles on our skinny arms.  We had bird bones, hollow and light, and we wanted more density, more weight.  We were six snatching hands, six stomping feet; we were brothers, boys, three little kings locked in a feud for more.

Notice how the details make this paragraph singe, as well as the repetition of "We" as the first word in every sentence.  The number six referring to hands and feet make it vivid and chaotic.  Lots of crashing traffic in this paragraph, we catch our breath in the second.

Justin Torres sets the bar high in writing take offs.  But in the book's landing, I was a bit disappointed. Never mind, the magical images are soaring.  Well worth the read.  A slim book, 125 pp.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for that paragraph. I too read that book and saw moments/flashes of wonder, but I too was disappointed with the ending. Maybe maturity will help this talented writer grow over the next few years.


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