Collected items from all chapters.
(1) The introductory paragraph is literate, picturesque,
and provides all the proper elements of setting. Look closely at the
imagery used here. Make a complete outline of this paragraph, showing
the structure clearly. Then make a list of the verbs and adjectives
it contains. Do you notice any patterns, rhythms, or connections between
(2) The author's description
of the AUK XXII-E is pretty detailed. Do you think you could draw a
picture of it from his written imagery? Find an unusual but interesting
item about which to write such a description. (Maybe it will help to
imagine that you are an alien viewing this thing for the first time.)
See if you can get an artistic friend to draw the object solely from your
(3) Four new characters
are introduced in this chapter (John Dubonnet, Dreama Jenkins, Cuke Snoddy,
and Tag Farmer) Form a hypothesis about the role each of these characters
will play in the story.
(4) Tag Farmer says
of Cuke Snoddy, "Trouble there". We would assume that this is foreshadowing,
but the phrase could mean many different things. What are some of the
possible meanings you can think of?
(5) The author relates
that Mrs. Laird had once predicted that Sonny would make his living as a
writer. Do you recall predictions people have made about your future
based on some work you've done?
(6) As the author
describes Coalwood, he depicts it quite differently than we might usually
stereotype a West Virginia coal town. Might we chalk this up to "selective
memory"? Do all of us have a way of softening our memories as time
passes? Why might we be inclined to do that?
(7) Poppy is not introduced
until well into a chapter that is titled for him. What might be the
author's reason for doing so? Can we, as writers, learn anything from
this about plot and pacing?
(8) Though the
author is never showy in his vocabulary, he also refuses to "dumb down"
conversations or characters in order to make them more simplistic.
Here, Elsie quotes their preacher by saying, "Knowledge puffs up, but charity
edifies." To which Homer replies, "What in Sam Hill does that mean?"
Look up the definition of "edify" and see if you can fully explain just what
she means by this.
(9) What is the source
of the title of this chapter? How does it relate to the part of the
story told here?
(10) Sonny gets
his first exposure to the different economic classes in his small community.
What signs exist in your community of either growth or deterioration?
How could you write about them to affect an audience the way the author does
(11) Perhaps you have
overheard a conversation in your life that was altered because you ignored
or did not hear certain significant parts. How did (or could have)
the situation turn out? Maybe you could draw on it to create a humorous,
wistful, or even painful literary situation.
(12) This is the first
really short chapter in the book. What do you think the author is trying
to accomplish by putting so little information in a chapter? Would
he have been better served to put this information in either the previous
or succeeding chapters? What do you expect to happen in the next chapter?
(13) Sonny describes
Mrs. Dantzler as a "glorious" queen. She is obviously a memorable and
archetypal character in his life. Perhaps you have met a similar character
whose persona was so dramatic that it stuck in your imagination.
(14) The author does
an artful and clever job of building up the dramatic tension in this chapter.
Try drawing a diagram of the various issues he raises that could become important
to the overall story. (Use a sort of timeline and then "weight" each
of the items according to the importance you think it will have.) What
can you learn about writing well from this structure?
(15) The author also
gives us a little history lesson in this chapter. He refers to events
of 1949, the activities of John L. Lewis and the UMW, and the role of Harry
Truman in the mines. How does the story benefit from these interjections?
Why do authors include such historical data in their books?
(16) Why does Sonny
suddenly resort to sarcastic humor when referring to the furnace? How
does this change of pace benefit the story line? What does it say to
you about the author?
(17) Sonny reflects
on a moment when he felt "warm down to (his) toes". Have you had such
a moment? What were the elements that caused that to come about?
How did the timing of it (age you were, sequence of events, connections to
other events or people in your life at the time...) help cause the significance
of it? Can you think of the first time this happened?
(18) Would it improve
or diminish this chapter if it was entitled, "The Furnace Blows Up"?
Why isn't it?
(19) Look closely
at the author's description of his recollection of Sherman in his French
uniform. What are the elements he uses to provoke us to laughter?
Try describing someone you've seen before in an unusual costume. Remember,
it will be more humorous if there is a serious aspect to the situation, just
as it is here.
(20) Our author resurrects
the theme of the snow goose, but now applies it to Dreama, differently than
he earlier applied it to himself. How does he advance the story by
(21) In reference to
his assault on the cookie table, Sonny puts a new twist on a possible adage,
"The advantage is always to the persistent over the weary." It is often
effective as a writer to put a unique spin on a seemingly familiar phrase.
Find an adage that you think can be turned "inside out" or "upside down"
and write a passage that utilizes it.
(22) The author
does a wonderful job in this chapter of describing both the way that anticipation
builds excitement about a major event and the way it seems to rush past you
much faster than you expected. Describe a much-anticipated event in
which you participated, where the speed of the action was so great that the
event itself was nearly over before you fully realized that you were involved
in it. Is there both joy and pain in such an experience?
(23) The author creates
a neat package in this chapter, with tension between Homer and Elsie at a
low but palpable level throughout the entire chapter. Look at the way
in which he accomplishes this. How many times does he hit this note?
How does he keep from overdoing it?
(24) Utilizing another
potential aphorism, Sonny says, "You don't have to stir the pot if you don't
put anything in it." There are many different applications of the concept
of "stirring the pot", but how is Sonny using it here? Often we don't
want people stirring the pot, but here Sonny seems to be encouraged to do
so, yet refuses. Look how he turns this around from its regular usage.
What would he accomplish here by stirring?
(25) In a masterful
segment, the author interjects no less than 6 different plot lines into the
scene surrounding the disassembly of the Veterans' Day float. List
the plot mentioned and make a note as to how each one is summarized or advanced.
Note particularly how the final one adds a new plot line that contains the
element of foreshadowing as well. Why is this chapter an appropriate
time for such a structure? Looking only at this part, what would you
predict to happen in the next chapter?
(26) The author
gives us only a quick flash on the subject of Billy, which we sense to be
an important story line, but Sonny is busy at the time and pays little attention.
Why do we get so little information here? What is your prediction about
where this plot line is headed? (Be assured that our author never drops a
plot line carelessly, nor loses track of one.)
(27) Jake Moseby, Gerhard,
and Dieter are introduced in this chapter. There are a variety of reasons
(some positive, some negative) for introducing characters this far into a
book. Write down as many as you can think of.
(28) Good writers create
not only visual images with their words, but also emotional context as well.
What are the feelings engendered when Dieter says, "We help him at 11 East"?
In what direction do you expect this revelation to take the story?
(29) Make a list
of all the things 11 East represents, and the people who recognize those
meanings. As you look at the plot lines you've been tracking since
the beginning, where must this one rank in importance? What can you
learn about the structure of a good book by the timing of the introduction
of this plot line?
(30) Mr. Dubonnet figures
that Homer is "out to prove something on this one." What do you think
of his theory about what Homer wants to prove?
(31) In a key moment
early in the chapter, Sonny decides he is finally ready to open Principles of Guided Missile Design,
given to him by Miss Riley. He desires to design a "more sophisticated
nozzle" for his rockets to improve their performance. Describe a time
when you decided to improve the quality of your work on a project that you
considered important. What strategies did you use to enter a new phase
of your production? What resources did you use that you had previously
(32) Homer drops into his room to give him a lesson
on how to keep his pencil point a consistent width. Sonny wonders what
other lessons Homer could teach him "if only he took the time". Recount
a lesson that you were taught once by someone wiser. Try to be as descriptive
as possible about your conversation and the feelings you had about the advice
you were receiving. It will be better if you can recall advice that
was cryptic or an outcome that was unexpected.
(33) Sonny is shocked when Quentin's dramatic
discussion with him leads to the realization that his friends see him as
"rich". Think of a time when you suddenly discovered that someone had
a very different view of you than you would have expected. Recall how
it felt to be judged differently than you normally judged yourself.
(34) Quentin ponders on collective terms, and
Sonny decides that squirrels would be a "disaster". What is a collection
of squirrels actually called?
Think of at least 10 new collective terms that you think would be more appropriate
than the terms usually used.
a few paragraphs that relate to the previous chapter, our author makes a dramatic
change in the direction of the plot. What is the purpose in such
a switch? What are the elements that make it so dramatic? Can
you find other examples from stories or books you like of these types of
dramatic scene changes?
(36) Another increase in the tension occurs when
there are two injuries at 11 East, intensifying rumors of a general strike.
Why is Homer pushing so hard on this issue? How does his approach to
this situation intensify the feelings surrounding it? How does the author's
return to this issue both reinforce the importance of the plot line and build
tension in the overall story?
(37) Look at the rapid scene shift between Sonny's
encounter with the Mallett boys and his discovery that Jake Moseby is returning
to town. Look at the elements that create this scene shift and how it
could be used in different situations to create surprise on the part of the
reader. Have you seen other such scene shifts in other books?
(38) Sonny has great respect for Jake, and Jake
has connections to many other characters in the book. How does the
author use these connections to advance the overall plot, and to throw a
few "curves" into the storyline? Outline all the elements of the book
on which he has some effect.
Turner "accosts" Sonny, asking him why Billy Rose is quitting school.
Sonny is thoroughly caught off guard by this news, sputtering in his reply.
The principal delivers a tough shot by saying, "a man should take care to
observe his friends lest they be needful." Why is Sonny held accountable
for his friend's decision? How does the nearly Biblical wording of
the principal's statement add emphasis and meaning to it? Can this
technique be used in every sort of story by nearly any writer?
(40) Sonny is suddenly afloat in femininity as
he finds himself attracted (and attractive) to a trio of girls: Dorothy,
his former flame; Melba, a "real" woman; and Ginger, who is characterized
as "okay". How does this situation add complexity to the storyline?
Is this situation serious or humorous or both? Look at how carefully
the girls are described and separated. What are the qualities that put
each of them into different "categories"? Why are triangles such an
appealing strategy to authors?
(41) Sonny also rhapsodizes on all of Jim's good
qualities, then says, "otherwise, I couldn't imagine the attraction."
What does Sonny really think
of his brother? Why does he use sarcasm at the end of a list of good
qualities his brother possesses?
(42) Why does
our author interject this silly story into what has mostly been a serious
process so far? How does the term "comic relief" apply to what is happening
here? Is this sort of thing appropriate in all stories?
(43) Sonny is asked how Elsie would know if he
had gone to Cinder Bottom, and he replies, "This is Coalwood." We are
returned here to the meaning of the title of the book, because getting such
news around is part of the "Coalwood Way". What other parts of the
"Way" have you discovered so far?
does the author not introduce the line that causes the title until the very
end of the chapter? How is the title both accurate and misleading?
(45) There is a fabulous sequence that begins
when Sonny determines that Ginger is a "Rocket Girl" and continues until
they are interrupted by a commotion upstairs. Try to diagram the emotions
that Sonny experiences as this conversation takes place. Can we learn
to use such patterns to create similar sequences in our own writing?
extremely short, this chapter does a lot to develop several story lines.
The author does a wonderful job of "sneaking in" information about the various
plot lines while seeming to tell us a simple story. Make a diagram of
this chapter, showing how each plot line is added to. Once again, we
have an opportunity to see a master craftsman at work, and learn excellent
techniques for creating interesting writing.
(47) An element of mystery is interjected when
Homer says, "I don't want him to know what we're doing there." Why
is he being so secretive? Who all is he trying to keep from knowing
about his work at 11 East? Look how well the author has kept us in
the dark, as well. What do you think is happening at 11 East that would
require secrecy? How do you expect this plot line to turn out?
(48) Even in a short chapter, things can happen
suddenly. Two of the "legs" of Sonny's triangle seem to disappear here.
Do you think these developments are permanent? What would now seem
to be Sonny's only remaining choice? Do you expect a good writer to
conclude this plot line so early in the book? (A good book is a lot
like a chess game. It has a well-defined opening, middle, and closing
"game". At this point, we are in the "middle game", where development
of characters and plot lines must take place in order to give the thoughtful
reader plenty to think about. Are you thinking?)
(49) At one
point, the boys see a jet flying past, causing Sonny to say, "I'm going to
ride in a jet someday." This touches on the theme of setting goals,
one which I think we can safely say the author has accomplished. What
is the purpose of this interjection? Is this goal overly simplistic?
How does it affect our view of the characters when we hear them setting goals
that we assume they surely accomplished later?
(50) Following his experience on Sis's Mountain,
Sonny is comforted by his cat, Lucifer. Is there a certain "poetic justice"
to this? Why does the author choose an animal to comfort him at this
point? Can you think of other authors who have used this same technique?
(FC) What roles do animals serve in our emotional lives?
(51) Sonny has to bind the greens together with
wire, which caused me to think of the similarity to an author weaving his
most important plot lines through a variety of other ideas. Consider
the plot lines that are woven throughout this chapter, including the animals,
the struggling economy, Sonny's romantic troubles, his blues, his relationship
to his friends, his concerns about Homer and Poppy, and the Potter's Wheel.
at its best is definitely an art. When Sonny and Dorothy begin dancing,
he uses a long list of adjectives to describe her eyes, painting a beautiful
picture for the reader. For each of the major facial parts (eyes, ears,
nose, hair, and lips, make a list of adjectives you might use in relation
to someone who is attractive to you. Then make separate lists for parts
that might go with certain expressions: anger, sadness, meanness, joy, etc.
(53) The final scene is extremely well constructed.
Look at the way the author has Sonny and Ginger sort through a variety of
issues that concern them. Do you now feel as though this plot line
has concluded, or is there more to follow? If there is more to come,
what might it be? Why does Sonny think of Jake at this point?
his discussion with Reverend Richard, all the important pieces of Sonny's
list come into the conversation, though it doesn't really sink into his head
at this point. This is a fabulous way for our author to remind us of
all the key elements of one storyline. Compare the conversation here
with the list Sonny created in earlier chapters. What resolutions
do you think Rev. Richard might be suggesting? Will Sonny follow his
(55) On the other hand, Rev. Richard says about
his windows, "Sometimes a thing can't stand to be talked about before it
happens". How does this apply to Sonny's various problems?
(56) Jake drops by to ask Sonny what his plans
are for Saturday. His request that Sonny wear boots is rather mysterious.
Why does the author leave this conversation unresolved? Why does he
create a sense of mystery here? What do you think Jake is up to?
(57) To create a full circle, the author closes
the chapter by having Sonny add items to his list. What do you think
of the items that are added? He feels that one thing is missing from
this list. Can you sense what that one thing is? Is it part of
the writer's art to make the item both obvious and uncertain?
(58) Since the horses (Trigger and Champion) actually
do nothing of great importance in this chapter, why is the chapter named for
setting is marvelous in the way it supports the underlying themes.
Make a list of all the words that are used in this chapter to set the environment
of Six Hollow. Think about how these words also relate to the plot
lines that are related to it.
(60) Another wonderful thing about this chapter
is the way it is actually a story within a story. Why would an author
introduce and (at least mostly) conclude a plot line this late in a novel?
Can you see how it ties in to plot lines we discovered earlier?
two pages, our Author provides all the elements of a nifty little side story
that helps us see several of the characters in a more complete way.
Outline the process he uses to show one character's dream, another's method
and reasons for assisting, and a third's reason for hesitating. Then
add in the effects of the actions of "Santa", Cleo Mallet, and Tag Farmer.
Look how quickly our Author changes the mood, then changes the subject altogether,
providing us with key plot information that actually makes our head spin.
(62) Another nice
writing trick is performed when Ginger questions Sonny about why he looks
tired, and he supposes that it has to do with trying to get all A's.
When he notes that she doesn't look as worn down, she puts the entire conversation
into context by hitting Sonny hard on two fronts. Saying, "That's
because I don't go around trying to save the world all the time.", she nails
one of Sonny's most trying character traits (and one that causes him plenty
of difficulty) while initiating a comparison with his father. This moment
becomes even more interesting from a literary standpoint when we remember
that Sonny is actually Our Author in teenage form, so he is forcing this comparison
on himself. Imagine that you are writing a scene in which you (in another
form or at another age) are a character, and another character points out
some of your traits that are disconcerting to them (the more you can think
of, the better). What would they choose to point out? The traits
should be those that have both good and irritating qualities, and which you
can trace directly to a parent, friend, teacher, or other "character ancestor".
(X) Note only: in a chapter that has nothing
to do with the subject, our Author brings 11 East into the chapter through
a casual Roy Lee comment to Sonny. Keep in mind how important it is
to maintain the reader's contact with all plot lines, especially when they
have not been discussed in the story for awhile. Good writers keep
track of all plot lines and the pace of their development so they can refer
to all important thought lines regularly to prevent the reader from forgetting
what's going on.
Notice how this chapter is relatively short when compared to those on either
end of it. An author like Dan Brown (The DaVinci Code) intentionally
uses short, fast-moving chapters that change scenes quickly to keep the reader
turning pages. Such a pace would be inappropriate for a memoir like
The Coalwood Way, yet Our
Author has a marvelous way of pacing his story to make it just as compelling.
If you haven't already done so, make a chart that shows the length of each
chapter and some sort of column that allows you to record the number of themes
or plot lines that are touched upon in the chapter. Is it possible
that Our Author created such a chart before he actually began to write the
story? (If so, it should make a nice technique for any young writer
(64) Our Author completes an amazing analogy
when Sonny recalls the snow goose, which takes the reader all the way back
to Chapter 1. Though we may have forgotten our original feelings about
it, this metaphor comes to a dramatic completion with which we can all identify.
It is one of the most poignant lines in the book when Sonny thinks about the
snow goose flying away and ponders, "Overwhelmed and oddly disheartened, I
wished with all my heart I could do the same." Think of some analogies
you could use in your writing that would communicate some of the strong emotions
mid-chapter, Our Author gives us an extensive description of long-wall mining.
Considering that he grew up in a coal town, it seems obvious that he'd have
much more knowledge about this process than his average reader. In
spite of that, can you find evidence that he has done extensive research
to prepare for this part of the book? Why would he do so if he was
clearly more knowledgeable than his audience? Imagine some elements
of your life that you might like to include in a story some day that will
require further research in order to be expressed completely. (This
is a good reminder that believability in a story is held by the details,
and our ability to hold a reader's interest may very well depend upon the
effectiveness of our research in gathering those details.)
(66) Another excellent example of Our Author's
craft comes at the end of the chapter. Sonny realizes that the Jake
he knew has mutated into an adult and that Homer has been the catalyst for
that change. Ironically, while Jake sees Homer's contribution to his
entry into manhood as an important and valuable thing, Sonny is angry, believing
that Homer is a "grinding wheel" that has ground Jake down "into somebody
I hardly knew." Our Author treads a delicate path here, because he has
to describe feelings he held as a young man about his own father, even though
we feel that he must long since have come to understand Homer's actions and
motivations. What do you think are some good techniques for recapturing
the thoughts and feelings of moments we did not understand when they occurred,
but which have become clear with the passage of time? Do you think it
possible, at this stage of his life, that Sonny needs a little "grinding down"
nice technique used by Our Author here is the climax of the tension over
Sonny's trip to the mine. Secrets create tension in a story (as in
life), so it always provides a nice twist when the person from whom the secret
has been kept (in this case, Elsie) has been a party to the conspiracy all
along. Perhaps you can think of some times when secrets you were trying
to keep ended up coming out differently than you expected.
(68) Sonny is greatly surprised when he
meets the kids from Welch, who turn out to be much more similar to his friends
than he would have expected. He has built up all sorts of assumptions
and expectations of them that prove false. Our prejudices usually turn
out to be unfounded once we are confronted with the truth. Part of my
great enjoyment on my trip to Russia was in discovering that the people were
very much like us, despite what I had been taught as a child. Perhaps
you can recall an instance where some person or group you met up with turned
out to be much different that you had anticipated.
(69) It seems
as though Our Author is giving us more frequent short, breather chapters as
we approach the end of the book. Do you have any ideas about why he
would pace the book this way?
note only: pay attention to the way Our Author transforms
the disaster with the car into something completely different than we thought
it would be.
the moment when Sonny finally reaches a crisis about the root of his sadness,
we get some of the most pithy, portentous writing of the entire book.
It behooves the young writer to look closely at these types of moments, because
it takes a special art to bring out such emotion in a character. Notice
his desperation, grappling to fully understand the cause of his depression,
even to the point of making an extended list in order to analyze its origins.
Having failed to do so logically and scientifically (as he usually solves
everything), Sonny resorts finally to faith, praying to God for an answer.
Instantly, he realizes that he has made a mistake, because he will receive one, he's unlikely
to enjoy it, and the pain will be awful. As the old saying goes,
"Be careful what you ask for; you may just get it." The extent of Sonny's
angst here within just a few sentences is absolutely amazing. Diagram
each group of sentences in this first section of the chapter as to the purpose
they serve in advancing the drama. Look carefully for the structure
that underlies the writing here.
(71) At the end of the chapter, Sonny finally
realizes the source of all his sadness. Are you surprised at the "revelation"?
Does it seem too simplistic or trite for your taste, or does it seem to fit
perfectly, considering the timing and plot development? Now that he
has determined the source, what do you think the solution will be?
title of this chapter seems very literary, and I cannot help but imagine
that it is an allusion to something that would provide us a little insight.
Maybe a little research on your part would uncover the meaning of it.
(73) Our Author once again takes a simple,
seemingly innocent occurrence and turns it into a wonderful pivot point for
reinforcing the storyline. Sonny tries his first cup of coffee (now
that he's feeling all grown up and everything) and finds it disgusting.
Elsie comments, "What sometimes smells sweet tastes bitter in the trying."
Obviously, she is referring to the coffee, but there is also an allusion
to something else. What is it? Why does Our Author feel the need
to reinforce, even subtly, that idea at this point in the story? (Notice
also that he does it with great economy of words, as always.) What
simple, everyday event might you be able to use for similar story pivots?
(74) The final scene of the chapter, Sonny realizes
that he knows the solution to a major new problem that has been created -
the need for a good powder man. It is a moment of clarity, and one
which allows Sonny to be useful and relevant. Then, Our Author leaves
us dangling as to the resolution. It's a great, suspenseful way to
end the chapter. Do you think you know who Sonny has in mind?
What is the value of ending a chapter in this way?
does our Author choose to use the book's title for a chapter title at this
point in the book? What elements in this chapter are part of "the Coalwood
way" of doing things?
(76) Why does our Author tell us that things
would have happened differently in "a place other than Coalwood"? Does
he do Coalwood an injustice in saying this? When he talks about such
a place, is he actually referring to some literary paradise that doesn't actually
exist in real life? Is he helping us to see the relationships of the
characters more clearly by setting the situation this way?
(77) Our Author gives us several marvelous
moments in a ridiculously short chapter. One comes when Sonny ponders
his father's success at 11 East. "Other men would sort it out, maybe
even decide he shouldn't have done it, but he had gone after his dream and
grabbed it with both hands. What could be more glorious than that?"
The way our Author puts it, not much. Reread this passage several times
until you are as astounded by it as you can be. Do these sound like
the words of a quitter? Is there any doubt left about whether Homer
is a quitter? See if you can write a passage about 1 or 2 people you
know who have persevered in a way that must be considered noble.
(78) As the chapter closes, our Author gives
us one of the best sentences of the entire (or any) book. "Together,
father and second son, we shuffled along the path of glory toward the light
in the Captain's house on the corner." How many different symbols does
the author use here? (make a list of them) The use of multiple imagery
like this is almost always a key to good writing. Why is this line
used right at the chapter's end?
a special note on your list of chapters that shows the elements used by our
Author in this little chapter as he creates the perfect tool for preparing
a grand finale.
(X) Note again the way the usage of just
a few choice words can make a tremendous difference in the way a scene is
viewed. Focus especially on the scene in which Sonny (as a self-chosen
third party) gives Jim and Billy the credit (or blame) for actions that have
occurred in the Hickam home.
(80) As Elsie prepares to do an important
task (even knowing that it will be dangerous and difficult) she challenges
Sonny and Billy to "Do the impossible. It seems like a good day for
it." Sonny knows what she means, and is energized by it. Do you
know what she is speaking of? How do you expect this to turn out?
the book comes to a close, can you think back (referring to your notes if
necessary) to any plot line
that hasn't been properly ended? This sort of thing cannot happen by
accident - careful planning and organization is required to make a book end
so neatly and satisfactorily.
(82) Cleverly, our Author gives us a little
writing lesson as he carries out the endings. He has Sonny, referring
to his pageant script, say, "sometimes a writer has to trust his audience
to understand that words are as much art as definition." While I would
agree with him totally, let's look at some issues relevant to it. Personally,
I believe that the connotation of
a word is almost always more important than its denotation. Make a list of words
you use often in your conversation or writing that you think mean a little
more to you than a dictionary would indicate. Imagine how you would
change the definition if you were writing the dictionary. Can you recall
any words the Author has used in this book (or even that I might have used
in the website) that seemed to mean something different than you had previously
thought? Has our Author followed this philosophy all throughout his
book? Since the final chapter focuses greatly on Sonny's (our Author,
don't forget) primary role in creating the pageant, could his comment also
be referring to others who shared this experience with him but might recall
it differently (especially if they feel that their role might have been diminished
in the book)?
(83) At a critical point in the pageant,
it begins to snow and some deer arrive! Do you think these events actually
happened as our Author recalls? Could the timing have possibly been
any better if it were completely invented? When writing a memoir, is
the duty of the author to recall things exactly, or is it acceptable to take
some "artistic license" with the memories? Would your opinion on this
subject be different if the story was about something more factual?
(You might want to take this moment to reread the Author's Note at the beginning
of the book.)
(84) A critical and satisfying moment comes
when Sonny realizes that Coalwood itself is his Potter's Wheel, shaping him
into the person he is and will become. What would you describe as your Potter's Wheel? How
would you work it into a story idea?
(85) Our Author gives us a wonderful ending
sentence - "Somewhere up there, I was certain there were stars as far as
we could see." This sort of sentence provides both closure and vision
of the future. Do you know of any other books that end so effectively?
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