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Reading Response: The Mechanics of Being, by Jerald Walker

Updated on December 31, 2013
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Alem is an Entrepreneur and Writer with an A.S. in Digital Film Making.

Your brain is a machine, but what is your mind?
Your brain is a machine, but what is your mind?

As interesting as the story is, The Mechanics of Being, by Jerald Walker, caught most of my attention with the authors writing style. He begins the essay with his tale of redemption. After dropping out of High School and becoming a delinquent he returns back to school and eventually settles on a writing profession.

During the next few paragraphs it becomes hard to keep up with the timeline, as he describes several past and possibly present events. For instance, in one paragraph his father is retiring at fifty-five and in the next paragraph he is being sent to jail as a teenager. The story deliberately does not move in chronological order. I am not sure why. Even more confusing is the way the narrator bounces around the story's timeline with the usage of years. For example, "in 1994, the same year he and my mother moved to the suburbs, I went to visit." Then in the next sentence he says, "Thirteen years later, the trip for me is a blur, punctuated now and then with random vivid images." Then a few sentences later he is in 1997 and his parents are moving again.

That blur he was talking about maybe the reasoning for the distortion in the story's timeline. Maybe when he sits down to write about his father's life he becomes blind in a sense, only able to piece together a few "random" images at a time? By the end of this essay I was so confused about when what happened and who's kids were who's, that I started to feel like I was getting one of the headaches he described his father having. I may have to read this another few times to see if I missed something.

This Essay can be found in a book titled "The Best American Essays" by Mary Oliver.


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