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Michael Chabon’s Glowing Accomplishment -- a review of Moonglow
Jonah P., reviewer
Michael Chabon, the author of The Yiddish Policemen’s Union and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, again asserts himself as one of the enduring authors of our generation with his newest work, Moonglow. Moonglow is a presumably dramatized memoir detailing Chabon’s grandfather’s life, as told to Chabon on his grandfather’s deathbed. A dynamic and nonlinear work, Moonglow toes the line between fact and fiction, darting between modern Florida, World War II Europe and 1960’s Baltimore. The haze of nostalgia drives Chabon’s novel, intensified by the larger-than-life character of Chabon’s grandfather at the center of the novel. Chabon’s grandfather’s tale would be galvanizing to begin with, but Chabon’s Fitzgerald esque talent for description raises Moonglow to astronomical heights.
Moonglow is more than just a personal history, though, as it muses on universal questions and provides satisfactory answers grounded in cynicism. The titular metaphor of Moonglow is the moon itself, namely Chabon’s grandfather’s obsession with space travel. Chabon’s grandfather’s idealism seems to be crushed when he discovers the terrible nature of innovation in Nazi Europe--attained by “climbing a ladder of bones” in Chabon’s own words. The moon still shines brightly in Chabon’s grandfather’s dreams, though dulled by cynicism. In Moonglow, Chabon asks us whether dreams are little more than naivete, whether the world is truly broken beyond repair. His answer--maybe, but we have little choice to trust the universe and to believe in the prevailing forces of good.
The Power of Evidence!
One of the clients I helped was a freshman who needed help on her hero essay for Ms. Mueller. My client’s main concerns regarding the essay were “choosing/interpreting evidence” and “integrating quotes.” As I was skimming through my client’s paper, I immediately noticed that the quotes were far too long and I’m talking 5-6 lines. When I began to read through the gigantic quotes, I vividly remembered myself as a freshman last year when I wrote this exact same paper. I was able to help my client on quote selection by simply telling her to only include evidence which would strengthen the claim most. When helping shorten quotes, I was helped as well because I feel that using most effective yet concise evidence is still something I can improve upon. Along with shortening quotes, my client also needed help integrating her evidence.
While reading the paper, I noticed my client would jump from quote to quote without analyzing the quote’s significance or introducing quotes. I was able to help the client on this aspect of her writing by talking with her about Ms. Mueller’s ‘Quote Sandwich’!! In my client’s paper, she simply would plop a quote in the middle of the sentence with no apparent introduction. I told my client how a quote must ALWAYS be introduced first before stating the quotation. I also suggested for my client to analyze the quote and connect the quote to the claim in sentences following the statement of the quotation. By helping my client with her integration of evidence, I was able to reflect upon my writing as a freshman last year and how it has (or has not, in some regards) improved over the course of freshman year to the middle of sophomore year in high school.
So if you need help with quotes, see the "Quotation Sandwich" link in the Resources Box!