Descriptive Writing: Disclaimer by Ron Carlson

First, make sure you’ve read “Disclaimer” by Ron Carlson before doing this assignment.

Instructions: Examine the following passage, taking into account the level of detail Carlson uses when remembering Debbie’s house, their experience, and the poplar tree.

“I also should add here that Debbie’s house is real, based on her real house, a green-sided thing on the corner of Concord and Eighth South that had a long shallow porch where I stood so many nights that year whispering with Debbie, giving Mrs. Eisenhour across the street a little show, I guess, as we would stand some nights for an hour saying good-bye and I love you and I can’t believe I’ve met someone like you and That was dreamy in there on he couch, I love you so much, and other direct dialogue which I’ve used in the text absolutely verbatim, probably the easiest thing of all the things in this book to write because everything we said is alive within my head after all these years, things actually said on the chilly fall nights there on Concord as we twisted closer, so lost some nights that we’d wipe our noses on each other’s necks under the huge munificent blessing of the ancient poplar tree in her front yard, a real tree that held up the sky for a half a mile in every direction, a giant that dumped its leaves in unending ten-ton squadrons that fall like some kind of perfect setting for us, a backdrop, a movie…” (Carlson 56).

WRITE an informal few sentences to a paragraph discussing the level of detail — what do you notice about his imagery? What about other literary devices? What about syntax? Do some close reading here.

NOW, describe a memory of your own in one paragraph, using a similar level of detail. This memory can be anything. It does not have to be about time spent with an old flame. It can be a recent memory or one from long ago. In any case, use an extraordinary amount of detail when describing your memory. Names, places, colors, smells, etc. REMEMBER, and not simply recount the past.

NOW, write another informal paragraph, extrapolating from how you and Carlson have written about place here to a larger answer about how you see writers writing about place and WHY they write about it that way. What effect does writing about place this way have? What purpose does it serve? Is Carlson doing this much differently, and/or for different reasons, than some of the other writers we’ve read? Be specific.

This is potentially practice for your Critical Essay, where you may very well find it important to talk about your OWN memories and relationships to ‘place’. AND where you will need to close read others’ writing about place.