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Boys: Short Story Analysis

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    Energy is one of the single most important concepts to keep in mind when writing, it can make even the most insignificant occurrences interesting. Energy plays with the reader’s senses combining subject matter, leaps/ spacing and words into one to create a fascinating piece of work. “Good writers choose a topic they know a lot about—relationships, travel, growing up, bedrooms, hotels, restaurants, the synagogue on 42nd Street—and they trust that they will discover things about the topic as they work. (Sellers 71) Rick Moody author of “Boys” has taken a relatable topic the process of growing up and has turned a thirty year frame into a condensed linear chronological format. Moody offers the reader a different view point, introduces repetition and the stressing of words creating a certain movement influencing the readers experience. Rick Moody starts off with “Boys enter the house, boys enter the house. ” (Moody 94), through his specific word choice “boys”, the reader is presented with a sense of familiarity, quickly presenting his intimate subject, the process of growing up.

    Through repetition Moody emphasizes the symbolism of his subject and the conflict of two boys growing up. For instance, “Two boys, one striking the other with a rubberized hot dog, enter the house. Two boys one of them striking the other with a willow switch about the head and shoulders, the other crying, enter the house. ” (Moody 95) Moody plays a lot with his word choice one of the preferred styles in “Boys” is repetition to create emphasise. Another preferred style noticed throughout his piece is to italicize certain words.

    To italicize specific words the author creates stress in the way they are uttered to generate an impact in the reader, influencing their perception for the word. For instance words and phrases stressed to create that impact are, “… Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and soul, and with all thy might, and they neighbour as thyself… breast,… sex,…her diagnosis” (Moody 95-96) just to name a few influence the words, they become sharp making sure to leave an impact on the reader. The sharpness that the italics create lays an important role in the energy and pace of the piece, forcing you to slow down when encountering an italicized word changing the variation of the story as you read. As you read not only has wording made an influence in the piece but also incorporated is a different point of view.

    “Boys” is introduced to us in third person offering us a long distances shot of the progress as the boys age. In an interview Rick Moody states that the third person is the mother of the boys, narrating the story in an “understated way, she is the perceiver, their mother is the center piece of the story. (Rick Moody) Viewing the story from a higher place gives the reader a sense of intimacy with the narrator being able to perceive the lives of the characters the “boys” in a different light, the reader becomes a witness to the events in the progression of the “boys’” lives. The different styles of writing and wording that Moody used throughout his piece created and maintained a continuous pace. This pace allows the reader along with the narrator to become a part of the ‘boys’” aging process.

    Lastly, his choice of topic adds to the energy of the story, he begins his piece inspired by someone else’s, creates a variation of sentences based on the phrase “the boys entered the house” and then writes what he knows and incorporates personal aspects of his life in “Boys”. The energy produced through his experience, growing up with many brothers offers the reader a sense of intimacy creating a relationship with the narrator as they both view from a distance the maturity and along that trials and tribulations that the boys experience while growing up.

    Writing what you know appears in this piece “Boys enter the house, kiss their mother, she explains the seriousness of their sister’s difficulty, her diagnosis… Boys skip school, enter house hold vigil. ” (Moody 96) Rick Moody incorporates the death of his sister, while not a huge part throughout the story it adds to the energy of the story changing the vibe, putting to a halt the pace of their maturation throughout the timeline of the story. Aside from my own analysis other critics have praised and have criticized Rick Moody’s writing.

    Moody presents the complexity of family structure, in this case the disintegration of a family after the death of loved ones, illustrating it through “experimentation with form” (enotes). However, “While some critics appreciate his lyrical elongated sentences and such stylistic devices as a rampant use of italics and the substitution of dashes for quotation marks, others find these distracting. ” (enotes) On the contrary to what he is being criticized for his experimentation with sentences, italics and repetition add to this story.

    The way he plays with structure reflects the process of the story, repetition adds emphasis to its characters and situations and writing in the third person presented the reader with a different view point creating a relationship with the narrator as they both viewed from a distance the lives of these two boys. In the end his style of writing came together successfully for this piece, the structure and development created a unique flow and energy for the reader to experience and engage with intimately.

    Work Cited

    Moody, R. “Boys. ” The Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide for Students. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008. 94-98. Print. Rick Moody Reads “Boys” and from Unpublished Novel. Walt Whitman Writers Series at St. Francis College. 2009. YouTube. Web. 07 Feb. 2011. Rick Moody. Enotes, n. d. Web. 07 Feb 2011. < http://www. enotes. com/contemporary-literary-criticism/moody-rick> Sellers, H. “Energy. ” The Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide for Students. Ed. Leasa Burton. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008. 69-100. Print.

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