Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Reading Response: Events of October

This book was a page-turner for me, which I attribute largely to its organization. I thought it was interesting that she chose to place the murder-suicide in the middle of the novel. This structure allowed her to address at length the effects of murder and suicide on a small college campus, so the book became much more than a narrative about the crime. It is about a community's response to it. After reading the murder-suicide that early on, I was left wondering how she would conclude the novel, but the organization makes sense given her ability to shed light on the bigger picture and larger issues. She zooms in (on the main event and campus response to it) in order to zoom out later on (on the larger implications for society and culture). 

I was also blown away by the magnitude of interviews she conducted, from Maggie Wardle's family and friends to college professors and legal authorities. These people lent a variety of perspectives that give readers access to the murder-suicide's effects on campus from various angles. I put the book down feeling like I had gotten a substantial, holistic view of the events. And as a student on this campus, I felt invested every step of the way, and I could empathize with the feelings of the many students and faculty members that Griffin interviewed. 

Even the second time around reading this, I was particularly interested in the way Griffin writes about Neenef and his friends. I remember the first time, I didn't know what to expect in terms of how she would treat him as a character and his actions, so I was surprised that she treated him and his friends with a lot of sympathy. I liked how she gives his friends a voice in the narrative as well, an outlet to express their grief as well as the grief of Maggie's friends and family. Again, she comes at the aftereffects of the events at many different angles to give readers a well-rounded understanding of something that affected different people in unique ways. This lays the groundwork for her to be able to address greater issues, like masculinity and its tie to culture and domestic violence. It also makes the situation that much more complex, another reason it was a hard book to put down. 

1 comment:

  1. I think that you bring up a lot of great points in your response. One thing that you said that really resonates with me, is the idea of the lens that zooms in and out. It is something that we have encountered before in other readings for this class and I think it is crucial for good writing. In the case of this book, I think her zooming out to show the effects on the K College community is one of the most important sections, because it shows the ripple effects that one act of violence can have.

    Another thing that I identified, as well, is the way in which she maintains an open mind her writing. It is indicative in her meeting with President Jimmy Jones, when she forgives him for not using the speech she wrote. It is also evident in her compassion for Neenef's friends, who I'm sure were some of the most deeply affected. I am looking forward to talking more about all of this in class!