Assignment – Comparing Writing Styles

Excerpt #1 – Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You (William Gay)

The Jeepster drove westward into a sun that had gone down the sky so fast it left a fiery wake like a comet. Light pooled above the horizon like blood and red light hammered off the hood of the SUV he was driving. He put on his sunglasses. In the failing day the light was falling almost horizontally and the highway glittered like some virtual highway in a fairy tale or nightmare.

His so-called friend had faded because The Jeepster was armed and dangerous. He was armed and dangerous and running on adrenaline and fury and grief and honed to such a fine edge that alcohol and drugs no longer affected him. Nothing worked on him. He had a pocket full of money and a nine-millimeter automatic shoved into the waistband of his jeans and his T-shirt pulled down over it. He had his ticket punched for the graveyard or the penitentiary and one foot on the platform and the other foot on the train. He had everything he needed to get himself killed, to push the borders back and alter the very geography of reality itself.

The drone of the ceiling fan was mindless and incessant. The ceiling fan spun carelessly and droned on and on and on while Waryn stared at the floor. He tried to cover his ears but the drone just echoed in the parabolic domes of his palms. The drone made his head howl with pain as his skull seemed to contract in a futile attempt to squeeze evacuating brain matter out his ears. He shrugged in defeat. He thought about getting up and turning off the switch but the flood of harsh sunlight besieged the room and made it impossible to open his eyes without the daggers piercing his frontal lobes. He realized that he was trapped in his own tailor-made version of Hell, all constructed inside his body. His own fleshy Hell.

Excerpt #2 – Cathedral (Raymond Carver)

This blind man, an old friend of my wife’s, he was on his way to spend the night. His wife had died. So he was visiting the dead wife’s relatives in Connecticut. He called my wife from his in-laws’. Arrangements were made. He would come by train, a five-hour trip, and my wife would meet him at the station. She hadn’t seen him since she worked for him one summer in Seattle ten years ago. But she and the blind man had kept in touch. They made tapes and mailed them back and forth. I wasn’t enthusiastic about his visit. He was no one I knew. And his being blind bothered me. My idea of blindness came from the movies. In the movies, the blind moved slowly and never laughed. Sometimes they were led by seeing-eye dogs. A blind man in my house was not something I looked forward to.

My husband wanted to introduce me to friend, an actor. He had known his since they were in grade school. They went to high school together. Then they lost touch when they both went to college. I wasn’t looking forward to this meeting. I don’t know how to talk to an actor. He is used to being fawned over, and I don’t know him. My impression of actors is that they have to be the center of everything.


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