Phil Dunphy

"I’m the cool dad, that’s my thang. I’m hip, I surf the web, I text. LOL: laugh out loud, OMG: oh my god, WTF: why the face." - Phil Dunphy

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Certain Style

            I do not take pride in my movie watching ability. In fact, I try to refrain from watching movies that necessitate complex thinking with other people in order to avoid embarrassment. The plot flies over my head and I remain more confused during the end credits than I did during the introduction. In saying this, I find it mind boggling that I predicted a major event in the novel, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter written by Tom Franklin, 70 pages before it happened. For this reason, Franklin’s structuring of his novel does not appeal to my liking as well as his repetitive use of pathos. The author attempts to grab the reader’s attention in the first chapter of his book, detailing out the murder of the character, Larry Ott. However, with no background information on Larry Ott, Franklin uses diction unfamiliar to the reader that creates a tone of confusion and bewilderment. For example, in the first sentence of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, Franklin describes how Larry returned home to find “a monster waiting in his house” (1). Is this a metaphorical phrase? Or maybe the monster happens to take the form of a dreaded piece of parchment or bill for example? Perhaps Franklin means that the boogeyman awaited Larry’s return home? Instead of sparking interest within the minds’ of his readers, Franklin creates a jumbled mess of puzzlement. The novelist also decides to jump between past and present day and also between the different perspectives between characters. For example, Franklin concludes chapter eight with the words: “There it was…a place where someone had dug, he realized, a grave” (157). The reader flips the page in apprehension, only to discover a shift in the author’s perspective. Franklin utilizes this peculiar style often within his novel: stopping a chapter right before a climax only to have the same event recapped in a later chapter. This constant discouragement establishes frustration towards the author’s style. Although discouraged, I cannot help but hold in a sob every few pages or so. Franklin describes an event from when the young character, Silas Jones, stood by his mother on the side of a street in the dead of winter with little clothing: “I’m cold, Momma, I want to go back” (105). Franklin utilizes pathos towards the character Larry Ott as well, explaining how his mother has “forgotten her name” from Alzheimer’s disease (159). One cannot help but feel sympathetic towards most of the characters in the Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, therefore not depicting a distinct protagonist and antagonist. Franklin’s style of writing confuses the audience’s feelings towards certain characters as well as complicates the plot by structuring his book in a non chronological way.   The author writes to civilized Americans to think before they criticize because one does not know the troubles a person may deal with.


  1. I could not disagree more. I thoroughly enjoy the way that Franklin utilizes foreshadowing in order to develop his novel. This persuades the reader to become completely involved in the entire story by making connections between the various anecdotes and dialogues. I also find myself wanting to re-read the novel from the beginning due to the dramatic irony as well as situational irony that i have over the characters as well as the characters over other characters. Franklin's style reminds me of tv shows in general because one proves able to see different viewpoints in the past and the present. I love this form of dramatic irony even if it can prove repetitive.

  2. I do find it interesting that Franklin's non-linear plot bothers you. Did it help to create any suspense in your reading of the story? I would argue that this structure definitely helps to intensify the pathos that you discuss. Flashing forward and backward can really make the tears flow.

  3. I think that Franklin attempts to create too much suspense in his novel. Reading the book with cliff-hanger after cliff-hanger to end each chapter proved tiresome. I find that few authors possess the capability of creating the suspense Franklin creates, without the constant cliff-hangers. This is why I think so many people enjoy J.K. Rowling's books. She harnesses that suspense while staying in the present tense. And she rarely to never skips over one of the climaxes of her stories only to have it recapped in a later chapter, as Franklin does often.