Lost Children Archive II

lost-children-archiveJust over halfway through Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive, the book takes a sudden turn as the narrative switches from the point of view of the mother to that of her ten-year-old stepson. “What else do you see, Ground Control?” the mother has just asked (186), alluding to one of the key tracks on their shared road-trip playlist, David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” a song that is of course very much about alienation (becoming-alien) and (mis)communication. “Calling Major Tom,” the boy seems to respond. “This is Ground Control. You copy me, Major Tom?” (191). But it soon becomes clear that this is not exactly a response to the mother’s question (though it is not exactly not a response, either), for as well as a new narrator we also have a new addressee: “This is the story of us, and of the lost children, from beginning to end, and I’m going to tell it to you, Memphis” (191). Memphis is the boy’s (step)sister, who has taken on that name as part of a round of collective familial renaming: “I’ll be Memphis. Just Memphis” (107). The boy, meanwhile, has adopted the name “Swift Feather.” And so, as the children start to inhabit and speak from these new identities, the book’s tone also changes, from the (over?) analytical realism of the mother’s narration to something more like myth, an epic (albeit in miniature) reminiscent of a classic children’s tale such as Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn. Indeed, much like Huck, Swift Feather and Memphis are about to “light out for the territory ahead of the rest.”

From the back of the car, the boy and his sister have been listening to their parents’ stories–both the stories directed at them, and others that they were not necessarily intended to overhear, as well as still others that perhaps the parents did not even know they were telling. Sometimes the girl falls asleep; sometimes the boy has been pretending to do the same. And through it all the children have been coming up with their own stories, many of which are echoes or slightly distorted versions of and responses to the narratives that the adults have been providing them. It is these echoes that come to the fore now, as the boy decides to take his sister in hand so that the two of them can look for themselves for the “lost children,” the refugee sisters (and others like them) crossing the border from Mexico, that the mother has been talking and worrying about all this time. Of course, as the kids set off, first ransacking their mother’s “archive” (a box in the back of the car) to take a map, a sound recorder, and her copy of the book she has been reading, Elegies for Lost Children, “Swift Arrow” and “Memphis” also join the ranks of the lost. Indeed, the boy will come to realize that his plan that they should look “for themselves” (on their own account) will overlap with a broader project, forced upon them, to look “for themselves” in the sense of trying to figure out how the two of them fit in to the wider world of which they are necessarily a part.

So Swift Feather and Memphis embark on their own trek, which is itself an echo both of their parents’ expedition and of the arduous journey undergone by the Central American migrants whom they are hoping to contact. There is something childishly narcissistic about this endeavor, as their aim is in part to reclaim the attention of their mother and father: “if we too were lost children,” the boy imagines, “we would have to be found again. Ma and Pa would have to find us” (238). But at the same time they are exposing themselves to many of the same kinds of dangers faced by refugee children; they shed the creature comforts and protection of the family unit and their relative privilege to ride a train much like the Bestia and to hike through the desert with minimal food or water. They start to inhabit a struggle for survival that is otherwise barely unimaginable. And this too, perhaps, explain why here the novel becomes almost dreamlike, even as it narrates an encounter with something like the real of danger and deprivation.

Everything comes to a climax (if not a resolution) in an extraordinary passage of almost twenty pages that is one interrupted sentence in which the point of view regularly switches between the brother and sister on the one hand, and the bedraggled migrants (now reduced to a small group of four) on the other who walk almost literally out of the pages of the Elegies for Lost Children. Their disparate stories finally if briefly coincide, at an abandoned goods train whose open sliding doors “looked like a window I was looking through from our side of the desert to the other side,” where the boy hears a sound that “got louder and louder so I knew it wasn’t an echo but a real sound,” and where he throws a rock only to find

a rock come flying back at us, [. . .] a real rock that the boy and his sister would have mistaken for an echo, confused as they were about cause and effect as the normal link between events, were it not for the fact that the rock thrown back at them hits the boy on his shoulder, so very real, concrete, and painful [. . .] who’s there I said, who’s there he says, and hearing the sound of his voice, the four children look at each other in relief, because it is a real voice, finally, clearly not a lost desert echo, not a sound-mirage like the ones that had been following them all along (330)

And in the transition from “I said” to “he says,” the change in point of view is marked by the shift in pronouns, but a common ground is also established precisely as “I” becomes “he,” as first person becomes third person, as a point of identification is established that renders the echo tangible and material without depriving it of any of its mythic qualities.

It is as though Luiselli were saying that it is only by treating such stories with the seriousness and naiveté, the trusting literalness, with which children treat the tales they are told, that we can establish some kind of connection with the unbearable and unimaginable horrors of the migrant experience. Her previous book, Tell Me How It Ends, which is also about Central American child migrants, never quite loses the adult point of view and insists that “the stories told in this essay are true” (107), adding footnotes to document each of its accusations about the injustices of the US judicial system that processes asylum claims. Lost Children Archive, by contrast, whose “Notes on Sources” list instead the series of literary works (from Pound’s Cantos to Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo), achieves, or comes close to achieving, the much more difficult task of imprinting on us the sense that the stories it tells and the voices it conjures up are real.

Lost Children Archive Part 2:

This novel was one of my favourite ones in the course. Though I said in my last post that I felt that the novel lacked some kind of suspense in it, I feel that I did find some suspense as I was reading. Even if it lacked those complicated and climactic storylines, I was still eager in wanting to know what would happen next. For example, when the son decided to leave with his sister or when he lost her, I found myself continuously flipping through the pages eagerly wanting to know how everything would unfold.

As the second half is largely narrated from the ten-year-old boy, he recounts parts of the road trip from his perspective. We encounter a boy who witnesses the disunity of the parents, being unsure of his family’s future and feeling as is he has been put to the sidelines as his parents seem too occupied with their distinct projects. The boy decides to become a lost child himself and he brings his sister along on this journey to also find Manuela’s lost children. As I was reading their journey as lost children, far away from their parents I noticed how these children who live a privileged lifestyle compared to the other children referred to in the novel, undergo some of the difficulties that the true lost children go through. Difficulties such as when the brother and sister get separated, the heat and the sun weighing them down, living through dehydration and starvation, and finally riding on the gondolas of a train as if it was like being on La Bestia, which is the death train for many of these children heading north. The brother and sister are the ones that are now responsible to tell the story of the lost children, but instead of telling the story it seems as if they are performing some difficulties that the real lost children face.

One idea that really stuck with me throughout the novel and which is touched on some more in the second part of the novel is that of forgetting and erasing history. Just as the tombstones of the Apache chiefs that were located in a distant area hidden behind a wall which made it seemed as if they were “locked up and removed and disappeared from the map”, it seems to me as if the same thing is still currently happening with the stories of these children aspiring to find a better life as they head north. Only when their stories seem to serve other purposes such as political interests, it appears as if these children and their emotional stories disappear and seem to be forgotten. Though they disappear these stories haven’t ended yet as they still very much happen today.

Lost Children Archive (part 2)

“Tday I wll owaz lov you mre than yustrday.”

Dang it Jon. Why did you have to pick this book to be the last one?

Wow. Alright where do I begin? I have so many emotions in me right now and I’m not sure if this is the right place to be pouring out all of it but hey, it’s the last one so I might as well.

I’ll start with the book. I can definitely say that this is my favorite out of all the books that we read this semester. I think it’s because I connected with it personally, not just because of the car rides that I was reminded of but also because of the relationship boy and girl have with each other. I’m sorry but here’s another life story that I’m going to share about. But it’s the last one so bear with me!

When I was reading the words up above by Memphis, I felt the urge to cry and I told my older sister about it right away (the one that I wanted to strangle haha). To give some context, my sister was in a fatal car accident last summer. I don’t know why but for some reason reading through the pages of the part of the book narrated by boy made me think of the time when I checked my phone notifications at work. When I opened them, I saw a flood of messages saying that my sister got into a car accident. I had a hard time dealing with school last semester because of it and upon reading the book, I wanted to go to my room and cry, but for some reason I just kept reading.

I know I should probably be focusing on the analysis aspect of this novel in this blog but I guess we have tomorrow’s class for that. I liked how the boy mentions how Memphis did not know how to read yet. It’s so funny because as much as I have mentioned that I hate reading, my sister is the exact opposite.

I thought the story would get better as I reached the end of the book (I mean other than the part where their parents found them again)—Manuela’s daughters passed away, their parents ended up not staying together and even they had to be separated. I guess these are things I’m just going to have to unbox in tomorrow’s class.

As I flip through the pages of this book, I am amazed as to how a rectangular compilation of words can invoke such emotions. I am reminded once again of the power of words. I’m hoping to read this book again (yes) in my spare time.

I switched from Math to Spanish because I thought the ability to speak another language helps open more doors to communicate with more people I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. This class taught me so much more, and it’s ironic because it’s taught in English.

Thank you Jon for going out of your way to get me a copy of this book. Thank you for an unforgettable last Spanish class. Thank you for pushing me to read all these books this semester and making me realize that reading can also be beautiful. Thank you for teaching me more about people.

And last but not the least, I would like to say thank you to you, my SPAN 322 class. You’ve all taught me so much and I will always remember this class of 9. It was an honor and a joy to have spent the few final months of my undergrad career with you all. This is not goodbye. I’m hoping to see all of you again in the future! (and tomorrow) ????

Lost Children Archive: part II

We’ve reached the end of the course. It seems so hard to believe it; time goes by so fast. It was such a pleasure to be in this course. I wanted to use this blog to go over what I have learnt this semester and tie it with this last book we are reading. In my opinion, I think this book really incorporates the type of mental work we have been doing this semester. We have been finding ways to record, capture, understand, archive our thoughts on Chicano literature and l think our own views on the life themes we have been finding along the way. A professor in another of my courses mentioned to me and this was probably said by many intellectuals before her, that “the more we know, the less we understand”. I think that with this course I have truly come to understand that. There is no use in trying to pass myself off as some sort of expert, some sort of “major of x or y”, in the end I don’t really intrinsically know the issues/ideas/concepts we have been studying. We read of experiences with drugs, abuse, search of identity, racism, in these books, yet I feel like the more I read the  Having been in a course that was small enough to hear each other think yet large enough to learn and be exposed to different opinions was such a pleasure, I think this class really encompasses what the true essence of university is meant to be.  And in my experience of being in university for the past four years, opportunities like this have been very few.
Like Valeria Luiselli divides her book into sections titled “roots and routes”, “archive”, “credible fears”, “stories”, “rhythm”, “family plot”, personally, reading this book has made me consider those same sections in my life. It’s not as if those thoughts existed before - I think this time, in my life at least, has been one for many thoughts – but that this book has highlighted several themes that have been on my mind for the past few weeks in social isolation. Especially those regarding archives and maps. I think this narrator exudes a lot of worry due to her high sense of responsibility. I think she lives a life with a mission, purpose, vocation and that weighs on her more for feeling like she would misrepresent those she is giving a voice to, or by not owning up to the task set ahead of her. I think this is so relatable. As she goes on this mission, this trip, she figures out what things will be like along the way. There is no plan, no fixed itinerary. I think life in general can be compared to that - at least this whole pandemic has made me rethink and notice what I have taken for granted. And what is beautiful is that despite not having a plan, the narrator seems to want to leave something in the world that is written by her, something good that changes the world for the better. Like that is the product of a structureless, zig-zag sort of a route, that in the end, ends up being her own purposeful and meaningful path, and that is what I think this book teaches. I don’t know if this last bit made any sense. It makes want to appreciate sounds more and color, and especially with the pandemic, I think it makes me want to live more. 
Going back to what I have learnt in this class, I think it really helped me overcome some fears, especially in feeling free to express my opinion by overcoming my fear of embarrassment and doubt in myself. It is hard to find places to do that. And that it really helped me learn through discussion. I am very grateful for having had this experience and for "archiving" it under my conception of university. I want to take this approach to my reading in general, and my studies. Once again, thank you very much for these past few months, and I am looking forward to tomorrow’s class.

Lost Children Archive: part II

We’ve reached the end of the course. It seems so hard to believe it; time goes by so fast. It was such a pleasure to be in this course. I wanted to use this blog to go over what I have learnt this semester and tie it with this last book we are reading. In my opinion, I think this book really incorporates the type of mental work we have been doing this semester. We have been finding ways to record, capture, understand, archive our thoughts on Chicano literature and l think our own views on the life themes we have been finding along the way. A professor in another of my courses mentioned to me and this was probably said by many intellectuals before her, that “the more we know, the less we understand”. I think that with this course I have truly come to understand that. There is no use in trying to pass myself off as some sort of expert, some sort of “major of x or y”, in the end I don’t really intrinsically know the issues/ideas/concepts we have been studying. We read of experiences with drugs, abuse, search of identity, racism, in these books, yet I feel like the more I read the  Having been in a course that was small enough to hear each other think yet large enough to learn and be exposed to different opinions was such a pleasure, I think this class really encompasses what the true essence of university is meant to be.  And in my experience of being in university for the past four years, opportunities like this have been very few.
Like Valeria Luiselli divides her book into sections titled “roots and routes”, “archive”, “credible fears”, “stories”, “rhythm”, “family plot”, personally, reading this book has made me consider those same sections in my life. It’s not as if those thoughts existed before - I think this time, in my life at least, has been one for many thoughts – but that this book has highlighted several themes that have been on my mind for the past few weeks in social isolation. Especially those regarding archives and maps. I think this narrator exudes a lot of worry due to her high sense of responsibility. I think she lives a life with a mission, purpose, vocation and that weighs on her more for feeling like she would misrepresent those she is giving a voice to, or by not owning up to the task set ahead of her. I think this is so relatable. As she goes on this mission, this trip, she figures out what things will be like along the way. There is no plan, no fixed itinerary. I think life in general can be compared to that - at least this whole pandemic has made me rethink and notice what I have taken for granted. And what is beautiful is that despite not having a plan, the narrator seems to want to leave something in the world that is written by her, something good that changes the world for the better. Like that is the product of a structureless, zig-zag sort of a route, that in the end, ends up being her own purposeful and meaningful path, and that is what I think this book teaches. I don’t know if this last bit made any sense. It makes want to appreciate sounds more and color, and especially with the pandemic, I think it makes me want to live more. 
Going back to what I have learnt in this class, I think it really helped me overcome some fears, especially in feeling free to express my opinion by overcoming my fear of embarrassment and doubt in myself. It is hard to find places to do that. And that it really helped me learn through discussion. I am very grateful for having had this experience and for "archiving" it under my conception of university. I want to take this approach to my reading in general, and my studies. Once again, thank you very much for these past few months, and I am looking forward to tomorrow’s class.

Lost Children Archive (Part 2)

A couple seconds into reading this second half I realized that the point of view changed – just as I had hoped it would! I was eager to get a different point of view, and although I am still so curious about the dad and his point of view on his relationship with his wife, having the story be told by the son is equally as intriguing. Although I have to admit, I was quite confused because he kept using “you”, for example: “while you and I were at school, Pa and Ma …” (195). Of course, I quickly realized the brother is referring to his sister. Here again we see the importance of storytelling; the bother is looking into the past and remembering this road trip, and all the things that his sister is unable to remember, he pulls from his own memory. In the first half the mother was so concerned and preoccupied with the topic of storytelling, but now, while I thought the majority of this ‘overthinking’ (as I previously referred to it as) would vanish, it hasn’t. There seems to be a little bit of the same tone present in the narration. One thing that really caught my attention was when the boy was describing the time when they all first moved into the apartment together and he says: ”even though we didn’t know one another well, we all laughed a lot together.” (195). It’s interesting that relationships like this one, between 4 people, starts from nothing, and progresses into a bond strong enough to move in together, and then to be stuck in the same car together. This novel has actually made me reflect a lot on my own personal relationships with each of my family members. I think back to the countless road trips we have taken together as a family of 5; the drives always started off super fun and exciting, but as the time passed my sisters and I slowly but surely began to go crazy. I remember being so bored and all I could do was watch my parents in the front seat, while listening to whatever CD it was that my parents chose to put on; and if my parents were to argue, it was impossible to ignore them because I had nothing else to do. I think the car in this novel is really key; as we said before, it’s a safe place but it’s also an unsafe place because there is so much uncertainty as to what conversations will take place, who will end up starting an argument, etc.

It’s also interesting that the boy now calls himself a documentarist and a documentarian “at the same time” (210); he had wanted to document as much as he could, knowing his sister wouldn’t be able to remember. I stick with what I said in our last discussion about how this novel seems to be all about the idea of ‘capturing’; whether it be capturing a moment, a smile, a story, an experience, etc. It’s about capturing and storing whatever has been captured, in whatever way possible.

For some reason I get the sense that the father (versus the mother) is more immersed in his ‘work’ life; I put ‘work’ in quotations because I also get the sense that his job as a father and his job as a documentarist overlap quite a bit. The stories the father tells the children are not typical stories a father would tell his young children; they are not light-hearted, super happy nor funny, but they do relate to his ‘work’. One line that stood out to me was when the boy says: “Sometimes I couldn’t tell if he was telling stories or telling histories” (216).

I find the passing along of stories in this novel super interesting, and it reminded me of the fact that we often hear stories but never really pay attention to the backstory, or where the story came from. In the novel, the boy tells us his own stories about the past, but he also tells us stories that had been previously told to him. These are stories that involve something initially happening somewhere in he world, which is then reported on by the media, which is then presented to the public through a variety of mediums. Then someone, like the father in this novel, re-tells this same story to his children, and now the boy is re-telling the same story to us through a novel that has been written who knows how many years after the initial event (hope that made some sort of sense). The boy’s memory seems to be extremely well-functioning; the amount of detail he is able to pull from his memory is very remarkable. I also find it interesting how these stories that the father tells the children overlap with real life; what I mean is that throughout the whole novel the children are constantly asking whether something they see in the present relates to what they have heard in a story. For example, on page 231 the boy says: “I asked papa if the echoes we heard earlier that day were like the ones in echo canyon he’d told us about”. Another example when the boy says: “I could try to make the night longer, the way Geronimo had the power to stretch out time during a night of battle” (233). Then when the children leave home and fend for themselves, the boy says: “I used to only pee in toilets, but I had learned to do it in the open, just like the boy did from the top of the gondola” (269). The children’s heads seem to be constantly living in present real life, and the stories they have been told. My last point here has to do with children viewing their parents as experts, or as if they know everything. When I was younger, I used to think that my parents knew everything about everything, and it’s sort of a weird feeling to grow up and slowly but surely realize that this isn’t exactly true. I think this idea plays a role in this novel, but I’m not too sure yet exactly how it does. It does however, have to do with growing up. While I didn’t think we would see that theme in this novel, we most definitely do. On page 239 the boy says: “And when I went back inside, I felt like I was finally almost a grown man”.

I loved the way all the stories came together at the end. The way the novel ends even leaves us with the idea that there is yet another story to be told, but this time by the sister. This is definitely my favourite novel we have read this semester, and I definitely want to read it again this summer! This is the first novel we have read this semester to make me very emotional, maybe even cry a little bit!

Lost Children Archive: Our Background is Our Saviour

The last half of Lost Children Archive was bitter-sweet for me. I knew that this would be the final chapters of this class yet was excited to uncover the final messages of Luiselli’s book.I continued reading and found one resounding concept pour through the pages: our beliefs, no matter where they come from, allow us to persevere against life’s most difficult moments. Through the children’s harsh travel, it especially hints at how previous experiences (through the stories told and songs heard) plays a crucial role in that perseverance.

The boy and girl’s travel in the scorching desert tells of the odds of survival being stacked against them, however, their dogmas and previous experiences allowed them to hold on and ultimately survive. Swift Feather and Memphis, names which they had been influenced by their Father’s stories are not simply name-tags, but represent a deeper connection to one another and to their parents, who they long to return back to. The names allow for a heartfelt connection (especially between the siblings) as beforehand names were never mentioned; lacking feelings of intimate relations. The bond between names also relates to their connection to their parents, as they had both received names as well (Lucky Arrow and Papa Cochise). On their journey, through their repeated use of calling each other by their “Apache” name, they reinforce the connection between them and their parents, allowing them to brave the desert and survive. The final point relating to names is the use of Major Tom and Ground Control taken from Space Oddity where by addressing each other with those names allows them to feel safe and secure back to a time their survival wasn’t threatened; in the car. Use of the names, subconsciously transports their lives full of hardship to good times had in the car, not having a care in the world.

Lost Children Archive really hits a chord with me. Originally I did not like the book, but through more thorough analysis and understanding the bigger picture, I would gladly read this book again. There are many subtle details in Lusielli’s novel. Whether about the fleetingness of love or the importance of one’s history, this book unpacks philosophical issues while at the same time tackling a pressing contemporary problem; the forgotten and disregarded stories of refugee children.

So long and farewell everyone! It was a pleasure to write these blog posts and interact with all your thought-provoking insights. I’ll miss you SPAN 322 Blog, but I’m sure you won’t be forgotten!

See everyone tomorrow!

-Curtis HR

Lost Children Archive – last post :(

I think this novel is still one of the most interestingly written out of the books we’ve read throughout the course. To me, the nameless feature is still fascinating, and I struggle to find the purpose of this, although, I may have made some headway. I think I mentioned this last Thursday during our discussion, but it seems that this novel is attempting to give a voice to those who are normally silenced. This was referenced when we were talking about Box III and Box XI; while Box III consisted of famous novels that are well studied while Box XI consists of seemingly nonsense words and sounds. To me, it seems that Luiselli wants to bring consciousness to the fact that it is not only important to pay attention to and be aware of those world-renowned novels written by famous authors, but also the little stories and sounds and riddles that are present by the lesser known, by those who may not be famous and popular; they are just as important. I think the nameless feature has a similar function; perhaps the characters are nameless because refugees in the real world are often depersonalized. They are often referred to as “they”, or “trespassers”, “foreigners” or simply “refugees”. Their names are often erased or changed or forgotten. But by the end of the novel, Luisellini not only gave the main family names, but the lost children as well. More than that, she gave them all made up names, making them equal and on the same playing ground; adults or children, refugees or citizens, they were more or less equal. This may seem like a small or miniscule point or detail of the book, but I found it rather clever and fascinating.

Although there is a lot more to say about the novel, I wanted to take the rest of my blog to just reflect on this term and state my appreciation and thankfulness for this course. This is definitely not the way I thought I would be graduating, however, I wanted to thank all of you for making one of my last classes of undergrad so amazing. Even in this time of uncertainty and chaos, this class has kept me sane and inspired to keep my head up and make the best out of a strange situation. I wanted to do a big shoutout to Jon for being so awesome and accommodating with the switch online, as well as being such an amazing prof for inspiring thought-provoking discussions throughout the entirety of the term – thank you so much. I honestly learned so much from each and every one of you during our class discussions, and I found it super interesting how, although we were all drawn to the same course, we all come from different backgrounds and had such unique and valuable points to offer. We might be done our blog posts and perhaps tomorrow is our last “in person” group discussion, but I hope we can all keep in touch and maybe have a video chat here and there to all catch up. Overall, thank all of you for making this last term super memorable and awesome – love you all!

Here’s Where the Story Ends

In yet another lovely blog post, which raises a whole host of questions and issues that I hope we get to address, as always Craig left us with a song. And, as well as being one of my favorites, it’s no doubt a much better choice of song than the one (REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”) that I put on our playlist.

It’s a better choice, I think, because it resonates in a host of ways both with Lost Children Archive, with its focus on stories and endings (destinies), and perhaps also with our experience in this class in this strange Pandemic year.

So I thought it’d be worth providing the lyrics:

People I know, places I go
Make me feel tongue tied
I can see how, people look down
They’re on the inside

Here’s where the story ends

People I see, weary of me
Showing my good side
I can see how, people look down
I’m on the outside

Here’s where the story ends
Ooh here’s where the story ends

It’s that little souvenir of a terrible year
Which makes my eyes feel sore
Oh I never should have said, the books that you read
Were all I loved you for
It’s that little souvenir of a terrible year
Which makes me wonder why
And it’s the memories of the shed that make me turn red
Surprise, surprise, surprise

Crazy I know, places I go
Make me feel so tired
I can see how people look down
I’m on the outside

Here’s where the story ends
Ooh here’s where the story ends

It’s that little souvenir of a terrible year
Which makes my eyes feel sore
And who ever would’ve thought, the books that you brought
Were all I loved you for
Oh the devil in me said, go down to the shed
I know where I belong
But the only thing I ever really wanted to say
Was wrong, was wrong, was wrong

It’s that little souvenir of a colorful year
Which makes me smile inside
So I cynically, cynically say, the world is that way
Surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise

Here’s, where the story ends
Ooh here’s, where the story ends

Here’s Where The Story Ends

Humph…Lost Children Archives…what did I just read? First of all, that is the longest sentence I’ve ever seen in my life. Starting on page 319, the only full stop to be found appeared some twenty pages later. I have no choice but to look at this stylistically to try and make sense of what I’ve just finished reading. Long sentences often give the feeling of dragging time, that a minute can last for hours, days even. This thought lasts for 20 pages. I felt anxiety the entire time. No, not due to my overly pedantic nature, a good grammatical challenge makes me happy. But this…what was the point of this?

I feel let down. I enjoyed the portions of the book about nothing: the road trip. I loved how The Boy was telling The Girl about how things were—however, what was the temporal context? Obviously, The Boy is telling The Girl about what happened in the past (the tense changes in the narrative) but are the kids adults now? What was the significance in the change in narrator? I don’t know. Was there a point? And what was the point of the metanarrative, the story within a story. It seems to me that the elegies were the meat and potatoes of the book, the rest were the peas you try to hide under your napkin when no one is looking. If that’s the case, what was the point of the road trip?

How can I enjoy a book that I disliked so much? I did enjoy this book. I can’t honestly say I liked it though. In fact, I would go so far as to say I disliked it. There was no build up. With each turn of the page I hoped to see that Manuela’s girls were reunited with her. But no. She was just a simple side story. Perhaps her kids were in the elegies? But if that happened long before Lost Children Archive were written, how could they possibly be in search for them? It takes months to publish a book, those girls would be long gone.

This book made absolutely no sense to me. I couldn’t place the events on a time line. Sure there was a beginning and a middle. The end never happened though, which was frustrating.

In the context of our course, I am not sure how this book fits in. In fact, so many of the books we covered are such odd examples of books—kinks. Starting with The Squatter and The Don, it seemed as though this book was a history lesson in the form of a novel, which was rather interesting. Then we saw an analysis of legends based on true events in With A Pistol in His Hand. From there we foréed into Nuyorican literature with Down These Mean Streets, which seemed, to me, to be the first normal novel we read…only, it wasn’t a novel. Bless Me Ultima didn’t register well with me and may very well be the first book I ever donate. I will probably reread The House on Mango Street many times over the years, it is easily one of my favourite books I’ve ever read…yet it’s not a traditional book. And then there’s Lost Children Archive, which excited my interest in linguistics and stylistics but left me stranded…lost…for plot. Each one of the books we read had its own kink.

Which brings me to my final thoughts, thoughts that are more difficult to express than I thought they’d be. It has been an honour and a sincere pleasure working with you folks of SPAN 322. I have learned so much from every single person in this class, about literature, about life. I have been and will continue to be inspired by the dynamic that we had for these past few months. Thank you, Jon for your approach to literature. You make it interesting by not herding us down the corral of traditional literary analysis. You encouraged every one of us to emote with no holds barred, which helped me see the way through. Some of the blogs written, I didn’t always agree with, but I learned from every single one of them. And I want to thank each and everyone one of my classmates: Maria, whose work ethic and determination will inspire me for always; Cynthia, whose cheeky sense of humor will always bring a smile to my face; Madison, who showed me that strength and calmness go very well hand in hand; Pamela, with your level head, smile and laugh, you can persevere to accomplish anything; Curtis, well, you are wise beyond your years my friend, your blogs always inspired me to think; Rachel, who apparently hates reading but always finds the good to focus on with such wise words about what we read; Stephanie, whose will and fortitude showed me that passion is important for success; and Aurelien, who despite reading in a language other than your mother tongue, which is my biggest struggle, you inspired me to keep trying and to never give up. Each and every single one of you have touched my life and I will always remember you and this class with the fondest memories. I wish each and every one you the best.

I leave this blog, my last, with a song that punctuates the end our journey this term.