several same common themes have emerged, simply, the ‘human condition”. The self-doubt,
the challenge to learn, the commitment to succeed, as well as to share that with others, to lift
them out as well, through reading and writing. Under incredible circumstances, and against all
odds, from which one would not envision a successful writer, came three wonderful personal
The writers were discouraged and deemed, by others – as “non-writers” and all the writers,
especially, Alexie and Douglas did not even know how to read, let alone write, in any language
and yet they taught themselves how to read through the most amazing and creative ways.
Alexie, by envisioning everything as a “paragraph”. Himself, his family, a comic strip
“Superman and me”. Moreover, incredibly Douglas, by identifying what a “letter” was and
“where” it belonged, and what it even meant, by use of ship building construction, under the
most oppressive of conditions.
All three writers struggled as well with ‘language” or ‘how’ to articulate information and
ideas into words, a barrier, or as Tan writes ”using all the English’s” with the most important
language, being the “language of intimacy”, in which all three writers were able to “connect”
with, in their own personal stories of experience, obstacles and triumph.
The personal essays were inspiring to ‘nontraditional’ writers such as myself, where
wisdom and experience are plenty, but the words and ‘framing’ of the ’content’ elude me. Thirty
years ago, the most I learned in school or…