An Introduction to "The Journey and the Aftermath"

I started writing this piece of creative nonfiction as I was reading Suleri. Without directly drawing attention to it, she makes the case that family histories are more often that not a matter of cause and effect. Throughout the memoir, she struggles with effects of events she never expected in the first place. From her grandmother and brother's burn injuries, to her mother's accidental death, every major event that happens to her family comes with a much longer healing period. This idea intrigued me, and I chose to write a short memoir in two parts that chronical a maajor event in the history of my family, and how it has affected my relationship with my father and grandmother decades later.

I started this piece by writing everything I knew about the central incident, my father crossing the Mexican border at a young age. I knew my story would have significant gaps, but I wanted to test how much I knew before going foward with my research. From there I interviewed my father, and went through the chronology of the story. It was the first time I had heard it start to finish. While I did not use it much in the piece, I also interviewed my grandmother to see how she wanted to present it to me. In the past, I noticed that she had been overwhlemingly reluctant to talk about it, and this time was no different. In addition to interviews and my own memory, I used the chapter of a memoir my father is writing in order to get the names of people he met in the journey, as well as dialogue for certain scenes.

Suleri is a clear influence on the piece, as it is the only family memoir we read in the class. At times, I tried to pull in Wolfian styles, especially in framing dialougue. However, most of this was taken out in the final draft. I thought it was unfitting to the subject matter, and only isolated me more from a story in which I wanted to be a bigger part. Stylistically, I tried to emulate Didion, although in the final draft I'm not sure how well this comes across. Like Didion, I wanted to make the flawed self a central part of a larger story. It was the only way I could explain myself throughout the piece.


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22 December 2007