My Mom Couldn’t Cook by Tom Junod

My mother was a good mother. I was a good son. My mother was a betrayed woman—I think I knew that, from an early age—and so I was careful never to betray her, as she, by instinct, never betrayed me.1 But now I felt betrayed, and I betrayed her in return, by learning to cook. No: by cooking. No: by marrying a girl who had no interest in cooking, and cooking for her. No: by cooking for my wife as I wished my mother had cooked for me.2 No: by cooking as my father would have cooked, had he taken up the toque—by cooking unyieldingly, despotically, ball-bustingly, hungrily, not just selflessly but also selfishly, as an assertion of prerogative.3 When my mother came to visit, I made her chop, according to specification. “How’s this?” she’d ask, showing me the cutting board of haphazardly chopped broccoli, and when I’d say she had to chop it smaller, finer, more uniformly, she’d say, “You’re some pain in the ass” or “What a pill.”4 I was perversely proud of her exasperation, perversely proud to be addressed in terms heretofore reserved for my old man. A pill? I had never been a pill before. I had always been, in my mother’s estimation, “a good egg,” but now I’d become a pill by insisting that my eggs taste good. My mother wasn’t college-educated, but she wasn’t stupid, either. She knew what was going on. When, much later, I wrote a flattering profile of my father for a magazine, she dismissed it tersely: “Don’t forget who raised you, kid.”5 But my cooking—my decision to cook—was a rejection of the way I’d been raised, a rebuke of the way she’d raised me.6 I had been on my mother’s side, but now, unforgivably, I was on my father’s, by taking my mother’s job.

[source]

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Then at last, when he could stand it no longer, he would peel back a tiny bit of the paper wrapping at one corner to expose a tiny bit of chocolate, and then he would take a tiny nibble –7 just enough to allow the lovely sweet taste to spread out slowly over his tongue. The next day, he would take another tiny nibble, and so on, and so on. And in this way, Charlie would make his sixpenny bar of birthday chocolate last him for more than a month. But I 2 haven’t yet told you about the one awful thing that tortured little Charlie, the lover of chocolate, 3 more than anything else. This thing, for him, was far, far worse than seeing slabs of chocolate in the shop windows or watching other children munching bars of creamy chocolate right in front of him. It was the most terrible torturing thing you could imagine, and it was this: 4 In the town itself, actually within sight of the house in which Charlie lived, there was an ENORMOUS CHOCOLATE FACTORY! Just imagine that! And it wasn’t simply an ordinary enormous chocolate factory, either. It was the largest and most famous in the whole world! It was WONKA’S FACTORY, owned by a man called Mr Willy Wonka, the greatest inventor and maker of chocolates that there has ever been. And what a tremendous, marvelous place it was! It had huge iron gates leading into it, and a high wall surrounding it, and smoke belching from its chimneys, and strange whizzing sounds coming 5 from deep inside it. And outside the walls, for half a mile around in every direction, the air was scented with the heavy rich smell of melting chocolate! Twice a day, on his way to and from school, little Charlie Bucket had to walk right past the gates of the factory. And every time he went by, he would begin to walk very, very slowly, and he would hold his nose high in the air and take long deep sniffs of the gorgeous chocolatey smell all around him. 6 Oh, how he loved that smell! And oh, how he wished he could go inside the factory and see what it was like!

 

Daredevil #10 by Charles Soule

Introducers: The two introducing phrases before the main idea of “it’s not very big.” This changes the connection that the reader makes between the two ideas and surprises them at the end of the sentence, because everyone considers New York to be huge. The introducers delay this unexpected statement for the readers and makes it more unexpected as Matt talks about how New York is important to the world.
Introducers: The two introducing phrases before the main idea of “it’s not very big.” This changes the connection that the reader makes between the two ideas and surprises them at the end of the sentence, because everyone considers New York to be huge. The introducers delay this unexpected statement for the readers and makes it more unexpected as Matt talks about how New York is important to the world.
“But the way the neighborhoods work” begins a sentence with a conjunction, “But”. Starting a sentence with a conjunction is much more colloquial and gives us the sense of this being his thoughts
“But the way the neighborhoods work” begins a sentence with a conjunction, “But”. Starting a sentence with a conjunction is much more colloquial and gives us the sense of this being his thoughts
“Until this guy” fragment. This fragment here builds the sense of Matt’s inner thoughts and personality. But since the fragment is separated in a different panel as well, creating more separation than just a period, the emphasis is stronger and the pause is strengthened.
“Until this guy” fragment. This fragment here builds the sense of Matt’s inner thoughts and personality. But since the fragment is separated in a different panel as well, creating more separation than just a period, the emphasis is stronger and the pause is strengthened.

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“New York City is alive. And living things change.” The decision to use a period instead a comma strengthens the separation of these sentences, while keeping the “and” connects the ideas. The overall effect is to create a sense of thoughts building off each other, connected but not thought immediately together.
“New York City is alive. And living things change.” The decision to use a period instead a comma strengthens the separation of these sentences, while keeping the “and” connects the ideas. The overall effect is to create a sense of thoughts building off each other, connected but not thought immediately together.
The ellipses that connect this panel to the last one from “For example…” to “…this flagpole” give the reader the pacing that Soule wants, as Matt starts the thought in one moment of action and finishes it after searching for an example in the next panel.
The ellipses that connect this panel to the last one from “For example…” to “…this flagpole” give the reader the pacing that Soule wants, as Matt starts the thought in one moment of action and finishes it after searching for an example in the next panel.

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Ellipses: this is one continuous thought that doesn’t require any punctuation in the middle, but the added ellipses draws out the thought and makes it more dramatic.
Ellipses: this is one continuous thought that doesn’t require any punctuation in the middle, but the added ellipses draws out the thought and makes it more dramatic.

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The repetition of “He didn’t” emphasizes the irony of the situation as Matt keeps his secret identity from Sam and pretends to not have the radar sense or his powers to keep the lie going, but the readers know that Matt and Daredevil are the same person.
The repetition of “He didn’t” emphasizes the irony of the situation as Matt keeps his secret identity from Sam and pretends to not have the radar sense or his powers to keep the lie going, but the readers know that Matt and Daredevil are the same person.

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Subordinating clause “when I introduced her to you” adverbial clause that reminds the readers why Sam had a cast while the prepositional phrase “in a fit of utter idiocy” adds Matt’s frustrations about the situation and gives the reader a sense of Matt’s personality and inner turmoil about helping Sam become Blindspot. "The hero game’s addictive": this contraction is uncommon in written text, but very colloquial in the spoken word. This contraction makes Daredevil’s thoughts more accessible to the reader and informal.
Subordinating clause “when I introduced her to you” adverbial clause that reminds the readers why Sam had a cast while the prepositional phrase “in a fit of utter idiocy” adds Matt’s frustrations about the situation and gives the reader a sense of Matt’s personality and inner turmoil about helping Sam become Blindspot.
“The hero game’s addictive”: this contraction is uncommon in written text, but very colloquial in the spoken word. This contraction makes Daredevil’s thoughts more accessible to the reader and informal.

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The participial phrase “training with Stick” specifies and explains what Matt means by being in Sam’s place, implying that “his place” is the state of being new to being a hero.
The participial phrase “training with Stick” specifies and explains what Matt means by being in Sam’s place, implying that “his place” is the state of being new to being a hero.
Starting conjunction: “But I didn’t like to listen,” connects the two ideas of Matt hearing but not listening while separating them in the mind of the reader so the fact that the second sentence came as an after thought triggered by the first is conveyed to the reader with the punctuation.
Starting conjunction: “But I didn’t like to listen,” connects the two ideas of Matt hearing but not listening while separating them in the mind of the reader so the fact that the second sentence came as an after thought triggered by the first is conveyed to the reader with the punctuation.

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“you want to break the rules,” is a subordinating clause missing the subordinating conjunction “if”. This missing word makes Matt’s thoughts feel more natural since no one thinks in formal, perfect grammar. The addition of the ellipses before the rest of the clause, (also missing a clause) dramatizes the irony of the statement and gives the effect of Matt delivering the punch line of a joke.
“you want to break the rules,” is a subordinating clause missing the subordinating conjunction “if”. This missing word makes Matt’s thoughts feel more natural since no one thinks in formal, perfect grammar. The addition of the ellipses before the rest of the clause, (also missing a clause) dramatizes the irony of the statement and gives the effect of Matt delivering the punch line of a joke.

Introduction to Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our age is retrospective.7 It builds the sepulchers of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories, and criticism. 2 The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. 3Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs? Embosomed for a season in nature, whose floods of life stream around and through us, and invite us by the powers they supply, to action proportioned to nature, why should we grope among the dry bones of the past, or put the living generation into masquerade out of its faded wardrobe? 4The sun shines to-day also. There is more wool and flax in the fields. There are new lands, new men, new thoughts. Let us demand our own works and laws and worship.

Undoubtedly we have no questions to ask which are unanswerable. We must trust the perfection of the creation so far, as to believe that whatever curiosity the order of things has awakened in our minds, the order of things can satisfy.5Every man’s condition is a solution in hieroglyphic to those inquiries he would put. He acts it as life, before he apprehends it as truth. In like manner, nature is already, in its forms and tendencies, describing its own design. Let us interrogate the great apparition, that shines so peacefully around us. Let us inquire, to what end is nature?

[source]

My Ántonia by Willa Cather

Book I: The Shimerdas

I

The engine was panting heavily after its long run6. In the red glow from the fire-box, a group of people stood huddled together on the platform, encumbered by bundles and boxes. I knew this must be the immigrant family the conductor had told us about. The woman wore a fringed shawl tied over her head, and she carried a little tin trunk in her arms, hugging it as if it were a baby. There was an old man, tall and stooped2. Two half-grown boys and a girl stood holding oilcloth a bundles, and a little girl clung to her mother’s skirts. Presently a man with a lantern approached them and began to talk, shouting and exclaiming3. I pricked up my ears, for it was positively the first time I had ever heard a foreign tongue4.

Another lantern came along5. A bantering voice called out:6 “Hello, are you Mr. Burden’s folks? If you are, it’s me you’re looking for. I’m Otto Fuchs. I’m Mr. Burden’s hired man, and I’m to drive you out. Hello, Jimmy, ain’t you scared to come so far west?”

I looked up with interest at the new face in the lantern light. He might have stepped out of the pages of “Jesse James.” He wore a sombrero hat, with a wide leather band and a bright buckle, and the ends of his mustache were twisted up stiffly, like little horns7. He looked lively and ferocious, I thought, and as if he had a history. A long scar ran across one cheek and drew the corner of his mouth up in a sinister curl8. The top of his left ear was gone, and his skin was brown as an Indian’s. Surely this was the face of a desperado. As he walked about the platform in his high-heeled boots9, looking for our trunks10, I saw that he was a rather slight man, quick and wiry11, and light on his feet. He told us we had a long night drive ahead of us, and had better be on the hike. He led us to a hitching-bar where two farm wagons were tied, and I saw the foreign family crowding into one of them. The other was for us. Jake got on the front seat with Otto Fuchs, and I rode on the straw in the bottom of the wagonbox, covered up with a buffalo hide. The immigrants rumbled off into the empty darkness, and we followed them.

(Online Text)

Preface from The Soloist by Steve Lopez

The Soloist by Steve Lopez

Preface

I’m on foot in downtown Los Angeles12, hustling back to the office with another deadline looming. That’s when I see him. He’s dressed in rags on a busy downtown street corner, playing Beethoven on a battered violin that looks like it’s been pulled from a Dumpster.

“That sounded pretty good,” I say when he finishes.

He jumps back three steps, eyeing me with suspicion. I see the name Stevie Wonder carved into the face of the violin, along with felt-pen doodles.

“Oh, thank you very much,” he says, obviously flattered2. “Are you serious?”

“I’m not a musician,” I answer. “But yes. It sounded good to me.”

He is black, just beyond fifty, with butterscotch eyes that warm to the compliment. He is standing next to a shopping cart heaped over with all his belongings, and yet despite grubby, soiled clothing, there’s a rumpled elegance about him.3He speaks with a slight regional accent I can’t place. Maybe he’s from the Midwest or up near the Great Lakes, and he seems to have been told to always stand up straight, enunciate, carry himself with pride and respect others.

“I’m trying to get back in shape,” he says. “But I’m going to get back in there, playing better. I just need to keep practicing.”

“So you like Stevie Wonder?” I ask.

“Oh, yes, certainly. ‘You Are the Sunshine of My Life.’ ‘My Cherie Amour.’ I guess I shouldn’t have written his name on my violin, though.”

I write a column for the Los Angeles Times. The job is a little like fishing. You go out and drop a line, cast a net. I’m figuring this vagrant violinist is a column. Has to be.4

“I’m in a hurry at the moment,” I tell him, “but I’d like to come back and hear you play again.”

“Oh, all right,” he says, smiling appreciatively but with trepidation. He looks like a man who has learned to trust no one.

“Do you always play in this spot?” I ask.

“Yes,” he says pointing across the street with his bow to Pershing Square5, in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. “I like to be near the Beethoven statue for inspiration.”

This guy could turn out to be a rare find in a city of undiscovered gems, fiddling away in the company of Beethoven.6 I would drop everything if I could, and spend a few hours pulling the story out of him, but that will have to wait for another day. I’ve got another column lined up and not much time to shape it. The deadlines come at you without mercy, even in your dreams.

“I’ll be back,” I say.

He nods indifferently.

Back at the office I seat out another column, scan the mail and clear the answering machine. I make a note on the yellow legal pad where I keep a list of possibilities.

Violin Man.

It’s got potential. Who knows where it will go?

Excerpt from Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

“Oh, it is not thus—not thus,” 7 interrupted the being. “Yet such must be the impression conveyed to you by what appears to be the purport of my actions. Yet 2I seek not a fellow feeling in my misery. No sympathy may I ever find3. When I first sought it, it was the love of virtue, the feelings of happiness and affection with which my whole being overflowed4, that I wished to be participated. But now that virtue has become to me a shadow, and that happiness and affection are turned into bitter and loathing despair, in what should I seek for sympathy? I am content to suffer alone while my sufferings shall endure; when I die, I am well satisfied that abhorrence and opprobrium should load my memory5. Once6 my fancy was soothed with dreams of virtue, of fame, and of enjoyment. Once I falsely hoped to meet with beings who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding. I was nourished with high thoughts of honour and devotion. But 7now crime has degraded me beneath the meanest animal. No guilt, no mischief, no malignity, no misery,8 can be found comparable to mine. When I run over the frightful catalogue of my sins, I cannot believe that I am the same creature whose thoughts were once filled with sublime and transcendent visions of the beauty and the majesty of goodness. But it is even so; the fallen angel becomes a malignant devil9. Yet 10even that enemy of God and man had friends and associates in his desolation; I am alone.”11

 

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

August is the Sun.12 Me and Mom and Dad2 are planets orbiting the Sun.3 The rest of our family and friends are asteroids and comets floating around the planets orbiting the Sun. The only celestial body that doesn’t orbit August the Sun is Daisy the dog, and that’s only because to her little doggy eyes, Augusts face doesn’t look very different from any other humans face. 4To Daisy, all our faces look a like, as flat and pale as the moon.

I’m used to the way this universe works. I’ve never minded it because it’s all I’ve ever known. I’ve always understood that August is special and has special needs. If I was playing too loudly and he was trying to take a nap, I knew I would have to play something else because he needed his rest after some procedure or other had left him weak and in pain. If I wanted Mom and Dad to watch me play soccer, I knew that nine out of ten times they’d miss it because they were busy shuttling August to speech therapy or physical therapy or a new specialist or a surgery.

Mom and Dad would always say I was the most understanding little girl in the world. I don’t know about that, just that I understood there was no point in complaining. I’ve seen August after his surgeries:5 his little face bandaged up and swollen, his tiny body full of IVs and tubes to keep him alive.6 After you’ve seen someone else going through that, it feels kind of crazy to complain over not getting the toy you had asked for, or your mom missing a school play. I knew this even when I was six years old. No one ever told it to me. I just knew it.7

Dune – Frank Herbert

‘Both open battle and secret,’ the Duke said. ‘There’ll be blood aplenty spilled before we’re through.’

‘ “And the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land,” ’ Hallack quoted.

The Duke sighed. ‘Hurry back, Gurney.’

‘Very good, m’Lord.’ The whipscar rippled to his grin. ‘ “Behold, as a wild ass in the desert, go I forth to my work.” ’

8 He turned, strode to the centre of the room, paused to relay his orders, hurried on through the men.

Leto shook his head at the retreating back. Hallack was a continual amazement 2  – a head full of songs, quotations, and flowery phrases 3…and the heart of an assassin when it came to dealing with the Harkonnens.

Presently, Leto took a leisurely diagonal course across the lift, acknowledging salutes with a casual hand wave. He recognised a propaganda corpsman, stopped to give him a message that could be relayed to the men through channels 4: those who had brought their women were safe and where they could be found. The others would wish to know that the population here appeared to boast more women than men.

The Duke slapped the propaganda man on the arm, 5 a signal that the message had top priority to be put out immediately, then continued across the room. He nodded to the men, smiled, traded pleasantries with a subaltern.

6 Command must always look confident, he thought. All that faith riding on your shoulders while you sit in the critical seat and never show it.

He breathed a sigh of relief when the lift swallowed him and he could turn and face the impersonal doors.

They have tried to take the life of my son!

The Maze Runner-James Dashner

He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air. 7

Metal ground against metal; 2a lurching shudder shook the floor beneath him. He fell down at the sudden movement and shuffled backward on his hands and feet, drops of sweat beading on his forehead despite the cool air.3 His back struck a hard metal wall; 4 he slid along it until he hit the corner of the room. Sinking to the floor, he pulled his legs up tight against his body, hoping his eyes would soon adjust to the darkness. 5

With another jolt,6the room jerked upward like an old lift in a mine shaft.

Harsh sounds of chains and pulleys, like the workings of an ancient steel factory, echoed through the room, bouncing off the walls with a hollow, tinny whine.7 The lightless elevator swayed back and forth as it ascended, turning the boy’s stomach sour with nausea; a smell like burnt oil invaded his senses, making him feel worse. He wanted to cry, but8 no tears came; he could only sit there, alone, waiting. 9

My name is Thomas, he thought.

That… that was the only thing he could remember about his life.

He didn’t understand how this could be possible. His mind functioned without flaw, trying to calculate his surroundings and predicament. Knowledge flooded his thoughts, facts and images, memories and details of the world and how it works. He pictured snow on trees, running down a leaf-strewn road, eating a hamburger, the moon casting a pale glow on a grassy meadow, swimming in a lake, a busy city square with hundreds of people bustling about their business.10

And yet he didn’t know where he came from, or how he’d gotten inside the dark lift, or who his parents were. 11 He didn’t even know his last name. 12 Images of people flashed across his mind, but there was no recognition, their faces replaced with haunted smears of color. 13 He couldn’t think of one person he knew, or recall a single conversation.

The room continued its ascent, swaying; Thomas grew immune to the ceaseless rattling of the chains that pulled him upward.14A long time passed. Minutes stretched into hours, although it was impossible to know for sure because every second seemed an eternity. 15 No. He was smarter than that. Trusting his instincts, he knew he’d been moving for roughly half an hour.

 

 

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