By Matthew Clark, Staff Writer
To provoke critical thinking in addition to discussions of philosophy and morality, the freshman class is given a literary piece to read. This year, the assigned book was Gary Jenkins’ The Immortal 10, an account of Kansan-Missourian conflicts coupled with the rescue of Dr. John Doy and his son.
Jenkins’ book explores the grim past of the Missouri slave trade by expanding John Doy’s original memoir. This expansion includes stretching out dialogue, romanticizing descriptions and taking some creative liberties with character interactions.
While the story’s message is a proper and vital one, my peers and I find ourselves being ultimately dissatisfied with the text.
Expositional portions within the book are long-winded, using explanations that draw attention away from what should be important in a narrative. Due to this fact, it can read like a historical manuscript that mimics the mechanics of a narrative. Furthermore, the mechanics themselves often lack meaning, and the writing ranges from awkwardly separated clauses to breathless run-ons.
The narration possesses a lackluster tone and, at times, the dialogue seems to be just the inverse—grossly overdramatic. Regardless of the contradicting rhetorical tactics, either extreme of the spectrum does not fit this style of writing.
Conveying important information in an articulate manner is quite the complex task and doing so while being entertaining requires great dedication. The author said he wrote this book in about 80 hours, meaning it can be assumed that given extra time and a more rigorous editing process, Jenkins’ book contains good content with an interesting perspective.
Though this was a good topic to prompt essays and discussions, the execution of this story fell short in its mechanics and rhetoric, making this year’s selection only partially productive.
PHOTO: Courtesy photo, Newman Advancement