woodpecker update

April 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

A month or two ago I wrote about four books I was dying to read this summer. I had the chance to read one of them for school, “Still Life with Woodpecker.” It was nothing short of awesome to say the least. I thought it would be fun to show you the paper I had to write on it. The assignment was to find one sentence that we thought was good and tell why. The entire semester has been on editing, so naturally everyone knew that the sentence had to be grammatical correct. Excuse the writing, I wrote it in half an hour tops…yea, I am a great student.

The book I decided to read was Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins. I had to go through my book several times to determine which underlined sentence I thought was the best written. I typically do not admire sentences based on the structure or whether it is grammatically correct when reading literary works because I believe the rules are made to be broken. To truly believe that Emily Dickinson would have moved as many people she has by obeying the rules of poetry is absurd. Not one of Dickinson’s poems was written by abiding the structural rules of poetry. Junot Diaz did not win his Pulitzer Price because he followed structural and grammatical rules of the English language. Both authors broke the rules they were taught and touched many generations of individuals through their stories. In short, you will have to forgive me for not picking the best grammatically written sentence. I felt it only necessary to pick the sentence that moved me.

“This may be said for the last quarter of the twentieth century: the truism that if we want a better world we will have to be better people came to be acknowledged, if not thoroughly understood, by a significantly large minority.” (24)

This particular sentence spoke volumes to me. I instantly feel in love with Robbins’ use of truism. For Robbins to first say that it “may be said” and then follow it up with “truism,” meaning something is too obvious to be mentioned, is hilarious. Robbins actually stated that a better world is made only with better people. This should be completely obvious that in order for the world to be better, the people in that world must first be better.

Also, I loved that Robbins wrote “significantly large minority.” Typically a minority is thought to be a small demographic of individuals. The juxtaposition of the words “large” and “minority” causes the reader to think. At first, reading “significantly large” would give the audience the impression that it is in fact the majority. This is quickly disputed in the next word, “minority.”

Finally, the sentence is completely applicable to society. Until individuals understand that better people create a better world, there will forever be conflict and war. Although I believe that conflict and war will always be an aspect of civilization, the vast majority of small conflicts, such as road rage, arson and theft, might be dramatically reduced if people just grasped the concept better people equals a better world.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. It was witty and constantly jumped from the past to the present. Robbins was won my heart.


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