Glass Castle and Population 485

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Category: English Composition

Date Submitted: 09/20/2011 04:03 PM

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ESSAY: Comparing and Contrasting



May 26, 2011

The Literary Dictionary says that a memoir is an autobiographical sketch--especially one that focuses less on the author's personal life or psychological development and more on the notable people and events the author has encountered or witnessed. From her book, “Writing Your Life”, Lou Willet Stanek says “The magic words for fiction writers are ‘what if…’; for memoir writers, ‘I remember…’ breaks the ice.”

In “Population: 485”, Michael Perry writes from a house he remembers “only from the perspective of a school bus seat.” He introduces us to Stanislaw Jabowksi saying “As long as I can remember, Stanislaw Jabowski was all stove up.” And he remembers “pulling up in the pumper, leaving it parked by Jabowski’s,” when they answered the call to Tracy Rimes’ accident scene. Perry’s memoir is more about what could be “gleaned from his life than the outcome of his life as a whole.”

Unlike, Perry’s “Population: 485”, Jeannette Walls’ writes her memoir “The Glass Castle”, using a writing style called creative nonfiction. Wikipedia defines creative nonfiction as text that “must be factually accurate, and written with attention to literary style and technique.” The primary goal of creative nonfiction is to relay information in a way that reads like fiction. For example, Walls writes, “as the weather warmed, a sort of rough beauty overtook the steep hillsides around little Hobart Street. Jack-in-the pulpits and bleeding hearts sprouted wild. White Queen Anne’s lace and purple phlox and big orange daylilies blossomed along the road. During the winter you could see abandoned cars and refrigerators and the shells of deserted houses in the woods, but in the spring the vines and weeds and moss grew over them, and in no time they disappeared altogether.”

Walls’ book also uses a “memoir reminiscent”-style with the chronological scope of her life more flexible than the traditional birth to...