Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Entertainment in 'Unreliable Memoirs'

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If a person picks up a narrative and humor, sadness, excitement or any other feelings are found between its covers, the text is an interesting source of information. When writing the text the author thinks about how the audience will perceive the events described and gives them maximum impact by using reader positioning techniques. The text 'Unreliable Memoirs' by Clive James is one of these interesting sources of information. As the title describes the book is a non-fiction narrative with ideas that James has included either because that is how he wanted to remember it or to have more impact on the reader. The reader of the narrative may find they can relate to the text and not only find it interesting but also useful. Being a humourous text most of the reader positioning techniques are used to make it amusing though that can also bring a feeling of shame and guilt. Through the use of language in the dunny man saga the reader responds with humour. Selection of detail is used in his mother going to movies she doesn’t like with James, James gives the reader a feeling of guild, shame and sorrow. A dramatic anticlimax with James’s description of the start and Ronnie also induces humour into the text.

Dramatic anticlimax is one way James reaches for the reader’s attention. In the chapter ‘Very well alone’ James describes staring up at the stars in the sky and thinking how stunning they look (page 154). His poetic language sets the scene and the reader prepares for James to have an insight into himself. 'The piece is broken' by Ronnie the one yelling at the sentinels. The way James relates Ronnie’s yelling to a “wombat being raped” creates a dramatic anticlimax from the previous serenity of looking at the stars. It’s not only the thought of something raping a wombat but the letdown to the building scene that the reader finds humorous. This humour is the reader responding to what the author has written. This proves that non-fiction narratives aren’t a boring source of information and the reader does respond to the text in different ways.

Selection of detail is a reader positioning technique that James uses when taking the audience into account in his writing. He chooses memories the audience will and won’t want to hear and includes them. One example is in chapter ‘All dressed up’ when James and his mother go to the movies even though unbeknown to James that his mother doesn’t like the movie (page 117). As James didn’t know it at the time he chooses to tell the audience that his mother felt like she did so that they would respond by feeling that his mothers love was endless and even though he could be a little naughty at times she still loved him. The reader scenes this and is ashamed at James’s self-absorption. This feeling of shame that the reader experiences is proof that the author of non fiction narratives does take the reader into account when constructing their texts and that they aren’t boring.

James uses the reader positioning technique language to encourage a response to the text. By using descriptive words in his portrayal of events in the text, James gives his memories more impact. In the chapter ‘Enter the flash of lightning’ where James is recalling his memories of the dunny man he uses descriptive language like ass, smell, flies and a lot of other names for poo (page51). The vision the reader has in their head after reading this event is so visual that they can smell the memory. The words James uses make the event more dramatic than it was in real life. The reader wants to read on in disgust and enjoys it. They are entertained by disgusting events. This shows that the reader is reacting with humour and other emotions. These emotions are a result of the reader being entertained and proves the text is interesting and that James has written it with the readers reaction in mind.

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Clive James has used the language reader positioning technique again it his portrayal of events in the text. Hyperboles can be found through the text over exaggerating James’s memories and giving his life a more interesting appearance. In the dunny man event in the chapter ‘Enter the flash of lightning’ James makes reference to being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the tragedy (page 5). The hyperbole he uses there makes the reader laugh at his exaggeration of the real event. The reader knows that in fact it is not a tragedy and can be cleaned up easily without a fuss. The humour felt by the reader after reading this event adds to the overall humour of the book. It’s this humour that shows that James has taken the readers emotions into account in the way his memories are portray in the text. The way the reader responds with laughter also shows the book is interesting and that non-fiction narratives are to.

Clive James’s autobiography Unreliable Memoirs is an interesting source of information that is written with the intention on entertaining the reader. While writing it James uses reader positioning techniques to engage the audience. A dramatic anticlimax in the chapter ‘Very well alone’ where the build up of a peaceful scene in interrupted by a ‘wombat being raped’ the audience responds with shock and humour. Selection of detail in the ‘All dressed up’ chapter in used in James’s recollection of his mother going to the movies she didn’t like with him persuades the reader to believe that a mothers love in boundless. The reader responds with shame towards James for being naughty. The language reader positioning technique is used in describing the poo in ‘Enter the flash of lightning’ and a hyperbole in the humourous response to the text. These responses the reader feels are proof that non-fiction narratives do take the audience into account and they are interesting. Personally I liked the book and found it humourous almost the whole way through. I could relate to events James described him doing. 'Unreliable Memoirs' in hilarious and one of the main reasons for this is, as the title suggests, James’s unreliable memory.



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