This is to say, writing is like art. By which I mean, there are patterns.

I have a number of initial comments on Spectacle and the 2 interviews of Susan Steinberg, and they’re a little disconnected, but that seems fitting. 

First I found myself paying most attention to the style. What initially struck me was the similar sentence form and construction (most sentences end with a comma and a modifying phrase) and the consistent verb tense and time frame (usually simple past tense). They worked to create a very clear and obvious voice, mood, and tone. It impressed me how quickly and strongly it was established. 

Next, I noticed the repetition of certain themes and tendencies from the narrator throughout the first four stories. There is a repetition of phrases like “this is to say”: the narrator clarifies him/herself constantly, especially in “Superstar,” but throughout. Then I noticed the narrator’s consistent self-deprecation. In all the stories, the narrator expects the worst about her(?)self (it’s usually female; is it always?; is it the same narrator throughout?): In “Superstar,” she does a self-proclaimed shit parking job; in “Cowboys,” she “more often than not do[es] the wrong thing”; in “Supernova,” “of course [she] lied.” She also stresses that she might sound melodramatic in a few of the stories (at least “Superstar,” “Underfed,” and “Cowboys”).

Then, when I read the interviews in interested me that the stories reflect the author in more ways that I would have initially been able to assume. First, in her interviews, she says “this is to say,” which leaves me to wonder if this is just a common phrase for the author in her daily life (because we all have those phrases that we use a lot!) and/or whether she intended to include it so many times in her text, or if that’s just what came naturally. (I usually expect that everything is a conscious choice for authors, but maybe I’m wrong; Steinberg mentions that she believes writing to be an experiment, so I suppose it’s logical to just let it come out as it does naturally.) In addition to this phrase, the text also speaks of a plane crash, which seems to be much like the one in “Supernova.” Also, just like Steinberg describes writing as similar to art, just with more rules and control, it seems as though these stories are like art. With the many patterns (some of which I’ve mentioned above, and some of which I’ve either left out or not noticed yet), this text (Spectacle), is definitely something to be seen (just like a painting would be) and interpreted (like all art). But it transcends visual art because it cannot be just a spectacle. Its patterns give us no choice but to go along for the ride, “Like how [it] kind of, admit it, [owns us]” (11), and we need more than just our sense of sight to form an interpretation. Writing is art that works within the rules of language, but it is still a form to be taken in and interpreted. I like that Steinberg’s interviews and stories reminded me of this. Specifically, I liked how she explained her use of the semicolon to create an artistic effect and a thematic meaning: “to convey a certain type of intimacy. By which I mean a certain type of tension. A division.” (“On Punctuation”).


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