Did Joyce Carol Oates popularize the use of fragments as sentences? She does it all the time, and in reading one of her books just now, “We Were the Mulvaneys” there are lots. Since my current book is always dwelling quietly in the back of my head, fragments are in my writing too.
Sad book. Only halfway through now, maybe it changes. A happy family is destroyed by the rape of the daughter, a high school girl, and parts of the family turn on themselves. Seems unbelievable, counter-intuitive. You would think the family would pull together. But they did not.
Therapists will tell you that little moments remembered from childhood are important. My mother had a book once written by an artist who said her life changed when she saw in a doorway, the line where an avocado carpet met an orange one. Totally get that. Your mother brings a new baby to the house. All that stuff.
One of those moments for me was literary. I am the poster person for Garrison Keillor. Before an art major, I was an english major.
In middle school, a teacher dissected a short story where there was a sentence: “No answer.” Mygawd there was no verb! How could this be? So this was happening a hundred years ago when I was in school and Stan the Man still played for the Cardinals. Anyway, this event must have been important.
Wishing the name of the short story was still with me, it is not. I remember two others, without names. One was about people hurling themselves out of the window on the east side of the Berlin Wall to freedom on the west side. Another was how a neighborhood in Brooklyn turned itself around and it all started with a couple of window boxes of flowers.
This stuff is so important. We went to teacher conferences when Garrett was in 9th grade, last year. He was taking the mainstream ninth grade English course within his special school. They had read “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Most Dangerous Game“. I read the same damn stories with the very outrageous Mr. Trumpfeller! His teacher shook her head and said some works have been proven to be perfect for ninth graders. Imagine that. Except that they read them now on Kindles.
There might be another reason for my fragments. My last edit is always to eliminate as many “I”s as possible. Criticized about that in grad school, (I) cast around finding ways to toss them. Using fragments can be a good solution.