Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez | Teen Ink

Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez MAG

January 9, 2010
By daffodilsNblueskies SILVER, Clayton, North Carolina
daffodilsNblueskies SILVER, Clayton, North Carolina
9 articles 45 photos 15 comments

When I began Hunger of Memory, I was apprehensive about Rodriguez's style, and at first, I felt as though I were learning to read all over again. I remember turning to the first page and daring myself to dislike it. I couldn't imagine reading the entire autobiography under such circumstances.

I glanced at the page. A massive army of short sentences and bold periods glared back. As someone who enjoys the lengthy flow of paragraph-long phrases strung together like rows of tiny Christmas lights with an abundance of commas, semicolons, and hyphens, this style was intimidating. Struggling to grasp its flow, I read aloud. My voice jerked like a car running over a series of speed bumps. As soon as I began to follow, I was stopped by an abrupt period.

After a while, my eyes stopped searching for startling punctuation and misplaced modifiers, my mind switched out of its editing mode, and I began to relax and enjoy Rodriguez's message. My mind sank into the rhythm of his words. I listened to myself repeat one of his sentences. I realized the ­effect his style created: it ­emphasized his voice.

Instead of relaxing and ­enjoying what the author has to say, I'm constantly analyzing the sentence structure of A Bronze Bow, or studying the grammar in Little Women. But in all of my searching and analyzing, I tend to overlook the most important and engaging characteristic in a book: its voice. Rodriguez's style emphasizes his voice, strengthens the content of his message, and ­instills key points in readers' minds. Instead of allowing his voice to be defined by his sentence structure and grammar, he defines it by his voice.

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