Reflections on The Crazy Man

When I opened the book for the first time I was not really looking forward to it because poetry has not been a past time of mine. But I figured that at least because of the format it would be an easy and quick read because there were so few words on a page. When I read it as a story, I found it incredibly enjoyable. I think that the story itself had to be written in the form of a prose poem. In this case, Porter had to be meticulous with word choice, but it paid off because reading a narrative would be less interesting, and very wordy. I do not believe that with fewer words came a lesser story. As we discussed in class last Wednesday, the story is one of overcoming, in relation to many different characters. I do not think that the story suffers because of the style of writing, but I do think that in a traditional text, the characters would be developed a little bit better. I found myself connecting to the plot and not necessarily the characters; which I suppose could be the point.

The Crazy Man has been my favourite text that we have read to date. I think that in part this is due to the fact that I was able to relate to it, despite the fact that I have never been further east than Lethbridge, and that I grew up in Northern BC. When I was younger I spent summer on my grandma’s farm in Northern Alberta. The brief descriptions in the text remind me of the farm, and the small community near it. I think the fact that it is a prose poem, and that each description and word choice is important helps this, because the author has to encompass the point of every description in few words. “Mum put them in a glass of water/and I got to smell them. Dark purple ones/and light purple ones. Some still/tight little buds./even some white ones, and they all/smelled a little different./she brought the whole spring day inside/when she did that” (29). This passage really stood out to me, because lilac flowers remind me of my childhood at the farm, and Porter encompasses all of my memories associated with the farm in those few lines, “she brought the whole spring day inside” (29).

A passage or chapter in the text that stood out to me is “that day built a room inside my head” (13-15). This couple of pages stood out to me as being the most powerful passage in the text. I think that this poem or chapter depicts prose poems at their finest. The effect of the short, fragmented sentences depicts the fragmentation of memory and the situation being described. The everyday situation for Emaline riding behind her father, was turned upside down by the actions of Prince. The most powerful lines in the chapter for me are the ending ones that describe what happens when Emaline’s foot is in front of the end of the disc. “Then everything gets fuzzy./Dad’s yelling and Prince/ is barking and somehow/mum’s there/and my foot’s dangling/below my leg – red foot,/red leg, red dirt./and now I remember/Dad, Prince, the tractor,/everything,/in red” (15). The red imagery throughout this passage is very powerful, and Porter did not need to use a couple of paragraphs to convey the gruesomeness of the incident. I think that because she used so few words, the emphasis and impact of the word ‘red’ had so much more power. I got chills from something that was less than 30 words, and I think that really shows the power in those words, and in Porter’s writing.

I found lots of reference to this novel being used as a grade 7 novel study, and I am not sure that I would have been able to appreciate the text when I was 13. I think that I may have been able to appreciate the story, but not the style of writing. Additionally, unless highlighted, I don’t think that I would have been able to appreciate the historical fiction aspect of the text. As an education student, this novel has lots of potential for me, because the novel is multidimensional. I think that doing a social studies and English connection would be an interesting way to read the novel as a class.

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2 thoughts on “Reflections on The Crazy Man

  1. The Crazy Man has been my favorite text so far this term too! I like your examples from the text, and I like your appreciation for its diction and word choice. When I read a text, I often wonder about the author’s choice of words, and I like to think about the motivation for choosing a certain word. This idea is so prevalent in The Crazy Man, because it’s a narrative written in poetry! You’re right, every word absolutely counts and makes a difference, and I thought Porter did such a great job with diction. I enjoyed that each word on the page mattered, and it was not just rambling to fill space! Great analysis, and I’m glad we agree 🙂

    – Julie Buoy

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  2. Marissa says:

    “I found myself connecting to the plot and not necessarily the characters; which I suppose could be the point.”

    I loved how you said this! I hadn’t really realized why I enjoyed this text so much and I think in that simple line you basically described it. The plot is the connection point instead of the characters. This seems like something that could relate to our class debates about whether or not adults should be reading children’s literature. This text has a well developed plot with a lot of prejudice in it. Prejudice is something that all adults face or have witnessed. Even though the verse is written in a child-like way the plot is mature and relevant. Maybe this is the fine line between what allows adults to emerge themselves into the world of children’s literature.

    “The Crazy Man” was my favourite text as well! 🙂

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