Phil Dunphy

"I’m the cool dad, that’s my thang. I’m hip, I surf the web, I text. LOL: laugh out loud, OMG: oh my god, WTF: why the face." - Phil Dunphy

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Here I Come Hollywood

            Why has Hollywood not created a movie after the Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, written by Tom Franklin? The book includes everything a mediocre Hollywood film needs: an interesting plot, relationships that need fixing, and an ending so perfect that even the stone-faced will shed a tear. However, I ironically do not like the ending of the book due to my inability to see past logical reasoning and realism. For example, the character Silas Jones underwent a 25 year span without informing the law about the information he knew on the case of the murder of Cindy Walker. In doing so, he threw another man, Larry, at the pit of societal scrutiny, destroying Larry’s life for a quarter century. As the story unravels, the reader learns that Larry and Jones share the same father. However, instead of Jones receiving punishment for the unimaginable acts he did to his own brother, Jones becomes “a hero” in Chabot, Mississippi (254). Did Jones not commit a crime comparable to that of the famous Penn State legend, Joe Paterno? By keeping their mouths shut and not notifying the police with knowledge to a crime, Jones and Paterno practically ruined people’s lives. For his actions, Paterno received life in prison which leads to his almost immediate death. Foiling Paterno, Jones becomes a hero. I have trouble believing that if Franklin’s novel proved nonfiction, Jones’s future would mirror his outcome in Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. I also do not enjoy the ending of Franklin’s book due to Franklin’s repetition of miracles. For instance, after Jones receives a bite from a dog, a doctor informs him that “It’s amazing you’re alive” (253). I know many people that received dog bites in the past, including myself. I also know that all of these victims never came close to dying. How fortunate that Jones’s bite came so close to killing him but never finished the deal. Franklin again describes a miracle of how the character Larry had a bullet shot at him that “just missed” his heart, which then caused Larry to have “a heart attack and then your [Larry’s] organs shut down” (211). For someone to endure these things and live to tell the tale, they must possess a bit of Superman in them. Although maybe it just happened to be a convenient coincidence…again. Franklin writes to entertain those who love happy, sappy endings which proves why I did not enjoy the ending to Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Certain Style

            I do not take pride in my movie watching ability. In fact, I try to refrain from watching movies that necessitate complex thinking with other people in order to avoid embarrassment. The plot flies over my head and I remain more confused during the end credits than I did during the introduction. In saying this, I find it mind boggling that I predicted a major event in the novel, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter written by Tom Franklin, 70 pages before it happened. For this reason, Franklin’s structuring of his novel does not appeal to my liking as well as his repetitive use of pathos. The author attempts to grab the reader’s attention in the first chapter of his book, detailing out the murder of the character, Larry Ott. However, with no background information on Larry Ott, Franklin uses diction unfamiliar to the reader that creates a tone of confusion and bewilderment. For example, in the first sentence of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, Franklin describes how Larry returned home to find “a monster waiting in his house” (1). Is this a metaphorical phrase? Or maybe the monster happens to take the form of a dreaded piece of parchment or bill for example? Perhaps Franklin means that the boogeyman awaited Larry’s return home? Instead of sparking interest within the minds’ of his readers, Franklin creates a jumbled mess of puzzlement. The novelist also decides to jump between past and present day and also between the different perspectives between characters. For example, Franklin concludes chapter eight with the words: “There it was…a place where someone had dug, he realized, a grave” (157). The reader flips the page in apprehension, only to discover a shift in the author’s perspective. Franklin utilizes this peculiar style often within his novel: stopping a chapter right before a climax only to have the same event recapped in a later chapter. This constant discouragement establishes frustration towards the author’s style. Although discouraged, I cannot help but hold in a sob every few pages or so. Franklin describes an event from when the young character, Silas Jones, stood by his mother on the side of a street in the dead of winter with little clothing: “I’m cold, Momma, I want to go back” (105). Franklin utilizes pathos towards the character Larry Ott as well, explaining how his mother has “forgotten her name” from Alzheimer’s disease (159). One cannot help but feel sympathetic towards most of the characters in the Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, therefore not depicting a distinct protagonist and antagonist. Franklin’s style of writing confuses the audience’s feelings towards certain characters as well as complicates the plot by structuring his book in a non chronological way.   The author writes to civilized Americans to think before they criticize because one does not know the troubles a person may deal with.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chip Off the Old Block?

                Many people think the father-son relationship as simple, or even effortless. Boys seem straightforward enough; they enjoy food, girls, and sports. How hard can it be for a father to raise his son? Tom Franklin addresses this question by depicting the life of a troubled young boy and his relationship with an overly aggressive father in his novel, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. Franklin’s novel jumps between years from the 1970’s to present day. Taking place in rural Mississippi, the Ott family experienced the horrors of poverty, racism and murder in their southern small town, Chabot. Due to the utilization of pathos and the racist views held by Mr. Ott, I favor the boy’s side in his confliction with his father. Life always came hard to young Larry Ott. With the help of asthma, glasses, an oversize belly and a passion for books, Larry could never find the approval of his father, Carl. After his father dropped him off for school each day, Larry attempted to bond with Carl through pleasant goodbyes, yet his father would give “barely a glance” in return (43). Franklin’s description of Carl and Larry’s relationship strives on his utilization of pathos. By referring to his son as “boy,” his son that not only has physical problems but also social problems, one cannot help but mold the character Larry into the protagonist while creating Carl as the antagonist (83). Franklin develops Larry as an immaculate character, constantly using a tone of innocence and politeness. Through the angelic diction of calling his father names like “Daddy” and “Sir,” Franklin easily establishes Larry into a likable character (83). The novelist continues to destroy Carl’s reputation in the eye’s of the reader by depicting him as a racist. Carl remains at ease when using terms like “nigger” or “colored men” to title certain people in his town (89). Even though Carl lives during the 1970’s, terms like these remain offensive towards decent readers. Although Larry greatly resembles the character Piggy from The Lord of the Flies, Franklin ironically evolves this lonesome figure into a lovable boy through untimely situations and unlucky circumstances. I am interested to see what the author will do with the support he has created towards the character Larry. Will Franklin use this alliance between readers and Larry to put a twist on the novel in pages to come? Will the author ease the tension in the hearts of father’s reading his book by ending this corrupt relationship?