Over the last few months, we read the following stories by Nafissa Thompson-Spires:
• “Belles Lettres”• "Fatima, the Biloquist: A Transformation Story”• “The Body's Defenses Against Itself”• "Heads of the Colored People”• “Wash Clean the Bones”• “Whisper to a Scream”
We primarily offered responses about what happened in her stories, but what's something you learned or considered related to the art of good storytelling as a result of reading the pieces in Thompson-Spires's collection? That is to say, how did the setup, style, tone, language, dialogue, circumstances, or conflicts presented in one of her stories shape your thinking about the possibilities of conveying a narrative in an artful, compelling, or surprising way? Identify the story by Thompson-Spires that prompted your thinking about the lesson you learned or considered.
• Reading Thompson-Spires made me realize how important a character who defies expectations is to making a story really captivating. I was so drawn into her story "Heads of the Colored People" was because of the unusual protagonist: a black man character who wears blue contact lenses, bleaches his hair, reads authors like Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison, and does cosplay. --J.D• Thompson-Spires's story "Belles Lettres" reminded me that humor is vital to good storytelling. Although it was sad that the two black mothers spoke in such mean ways to each other, the idea of sending letters through their daughters and slyly insulting each other kept me laughing and reading. --O. A.
I enjoyed all of the stories, the one that stuck out to me the most was "Belles Lettress" in that story there were 2 parents arguing and you could tell with the tone of each letter things were going to get ugly .Each letter you could feel the tension rising.
I have enjoyed reading all of the stories but by far Whisper to scream had the greatest impact on me. I think that was due to the modern take which made it much more relatable to me and my generation. Watching the struggles of a girl of color trying to fit into a society that struggles to accept her and seeing her process in attempt to overcome those injustices was extremely empowering.
From reading these stories, I learned a lot about how the contents of stories can tell us a lot about characters and the circumstances they face throughout the story. All of the stories were very unique in how they portrayed the characters. One story that stood out to me was "Belles Letters" because it displayed a storyline through letters written by characters that progressed in tension throughout the story.
After reading all the stories from Thompson-Spires, it shows the internal struggle of people of color along dealing with the troubles of the world being against us in different ways. The stories enlightened me on how some things need to be worked on and how people of color should come together and uplift one another more to be better as a people in unity.
The story that prompted my thinking about the lesson I have learned was “Heads of the Colored People.” This specific story used dialogue during the conflicts that made the story extremely surprising. The dialogue in this story also made the conflicts and circumstances seem as if I was living them. I felt as if I was in the conversations and was a part of this story the whole time. This story incorporated so many different lessons that need to be learned by everyone.
While all the stories were good and well written, I enjoyed "Belles Lettres" by Thompson-Spires the most. It was interesting to read the mothers sending the intense letters to one another. This story made me consider how the actions of parents can greatly influence their children.
Reading “The Body's Defenses Against Itself” made me realize how much analogies and metaphors add to a story, when they included be a thermostat not a thermometer, it was an example of how you can feel exactly what a character is thinking. Overall, this book had a lot of good story telling tactics that are important.
After reading all of these stories, my favorite was Belles Lettres. The reason is how the letters represented more than just the physical use of letters. They had a mental, emotional, and psychological effect.
Out of all the stories we've read, I enjoyed "Belles Letters" by Thompson-Spires the most. This is all because of the two mothers who are constantly butting heads. And they used their children as "pawns" to some extent. It is really sad that there are parents out there who don't care for their kids' well-being as much as they should.
After reading the stories from Thompson-Spires, I believe that it shows black marginalization and the struggles people of color have to deal with in the world. The world is really against us. Which is why we need to come together to uplift one another and support each other. I was enlightened on how we need to unify rather than work against each other.
Something that I liked reading was Thompson-Spires "Belles Lettres". The reason I liked this specific story so much was, because the first person point of view in the short story offered me as a reader a different perspective. Although I am not a black woman, I am a black male and have seen first hand the damage that can be caused when two black people insult each other. The point of view in the story allowed me to see how it could affect black women, the people I believe to be marginalized and disrespected the most.
The story that I most enjoyed the overall reading of was "Belles Lettres", this is because each letter was very well written and you could tell the tone was getting more intense. I also learned a lot as far as the lasting effects of this nasty exchange of letters on the children of the parents writing the letters. Generally speaking I think there is something everyone can take from this story, whether it be perspective on a situation they could/have never experienced or simply appreciation for the literary piece itself. Extremely well done on Thompson-Spires part.
"Whisper to a Scream" showed me that someone's identity on the internet can be far from how they see themselves and that the way someone sees themself shines through in their behaviors. Setting up a character is vital in storytelling, and in every anecdote, this is done wonderfully, especially this one.
By reading “Whisper to Scream” was very interesting to me because it shows how our identity crisis can not only stem from the outside world but also from within ones home. I think it is import because many black youths because they are outcasted if they are differ from the average person. Thompson-Spires is inspirational because she focus on all aspects of having a lack experience in America.
While all of the stories were good, "Belles Letters" was the story I enjoyed reading most. It was interesting because of the tone of the mothers writing letters back and forth. Throughout the section, it got more and more intense as their tensions grew. However, it was annoying how they were using their children without thinking of the impact it would have on them.
The story that stuck in my mind the most was "Belles Letters." The way it stuck in my head taught me that stories that intertwine humor with conflict appeal to me. While it was disappointing that these intelligent women felt the need to pit themselves and their children against each other, there were funny moments within the insults being constantly hurled. I also think it was interesting how the tension swelled in each subsequent letter.
I definitely like the styles used in the novel. Most stories have a unique twist and turn that make them catchy and interesting. My favorite was "Whisper to a scream" this is because I feel like everyone at some point in time goes through something close to Raina's experience. Some people share their experience while others stay silent.
I think something that was heavily prominent throughout all the stories through the author's setup, tone, language, dialogue, circumstances, and conflicts is how much people care about their self-image. I think is especially prominent in "Belles Lettres", in this story we are shown the conversation between two mothers based on a rumor about their child. In this, we can see that both the mothers care a lot about what people think of them and the impact that each of their children can have on their image. While this is extremely significant in this story I feel it can be seen in every story we read, everyone bases their actions on what others will think, even if they try not to they are influenced without even trying.
I enjoyed all of the stories. Each of them were uniquely written and had interesting and relatable plots. One story that stood out to me the most was "Belles Lettres. The way the author chose to write this piece was very interesting to me. One of the messages that children often learn behaviors from their parents is one that is very relatable.
I enjoyed reading all of these stories but I think the story that stood out to me was “whisper to scream”. I think this particular story had a lot of important messages. This story demonstrated how online personas don’t always match up with the personality of a person in real life. And that everyone is different and therefore will be interested in different things so it’s important not to judge people for their interest. I also thought this story did a good job at representing the importance of parents supporting and being there for their children. Through dialogue and character establishment, I think Thompson-Spire was able to achieve a great level of storytelling that speaks to anyone who has ever felt different from the majority.
I enjoy how visualistic the author makes the stories. I feel like she assigned a particular writing scheme that matched with the characters and conflict in that particular story. One example is "Belles Lettres." The author set up the conflict and characters and introduced it as written letters. Personally, this emphasized the back-and-forth arguing, while also making it more entertaining and exciting to read. I also enjoy how she adds common slang and often uses well-known examples to help readers better visualize and understand characters and conflicts.
My favorite story was"Fatima, the Biloquist: A Transformation Story”. It touched on the struggle that individuals go through when attending a predominantly white school. The internal conflict really drew me into the story because those are the type of things that I enjoy best out different stories.
Each story left it's own small impact on me but the one that stood out the most to me was, "Heads of the Colored People." The author spoke about something that most people are too scared to acknowledge, police brutality. Coming into the story we immediately had a character who wasn't society's average black male, he wore blue contacts and had on a blonde wig because he was cosplaying. I enjoyed her use of dialect and reiterating to us how innocent the two victims were & how the whole situation was a misunderstanding, this made me feel connected to the book because this is something that would actually occur in real life.
In the Belles Lettres, the way the author told us a story through the use of letters was something new and opened my eyes. The author was able to develop the conflict between the two parents with the word choice in then letters, and I really enjoyed reading this chapter.
The story that stuck with me the most was "Wash Clean the Bones". This story was so touching and so detailed that it felt that the person was literally sitting in front of me telling the story. The details and dialogue of all of the stories we read throughout this book are what kept me interested. I enjoyed reading each of these stories and am compelled to read more of her work.
When it comes to the stories Thompson-Spires wrote, each one was different and approached in their own way, which is why I enjoyed reading all of them. The story that stuck out the most to me is "Belles Lettres". Reading that story felt different than the others since the formatting of it was actual letters, making it feel more realistic as a reader. Also, when it comes to the meaning behind it, it showed me that when it comes to children and their behavior, it is not always their fault and sometimes it be the parent's behavior reflecting off onto the children. The tone and the words being expressed in the letters were also interesting, since it was the parents arguing, but the children always ended up mentioned.
"Belles Lettress" was easily my favorite story this semester. I truly felt like the story encapsulated the immense pressure that black women have when raising their children, on top of all of the other underlying issues that they face on a day-to-day basis. It was chalk-full of nuance, and it made to very loud and aggressive parents seem vulnerable without ever saying it directly. It is the story that sticks with me the most.
I thoroughly enjoyed all of the stories but Belles Lettress stuck out the most to me. The dialogue between the two parents seemed really realistic and the story itself was very well developed and it is a very re-readable story.
Out of all of Thompson-Spires' unique stories, the one that taught me the most about the art of storytelling would have to be "Belles Lettres." The way this story was told through actual letters rather than a simple narrator showed that both a plot and its characters can be presented to readers in non-traditional ways. Through their arguing in the letters, the two mothers in the story were inadvertently revealing the complexities behind their personalities, backgrounds, and conflicts. Overall, Thompson-Spires' really inspired me to challenge my creative mind when writing.
I really enjoyed all the stories but I think the tone of each really made them impactful to me. One of my top favorites would be whisper to scream and the heads of the colored people. -Alleson H.
Although all of the stories were very compelling, "Heads of the Colored People" had really introduced me to a new way of presenting narratives. I really enjoyed how Thompson-Spires had connected the four different characters to one central narrative, and although it has been done before, I have not really seen someone do it in relation to the oppression that Black people face. I believe that this was a very powerful way of communicating how our experiences are all connected to one another, and I am happy that I was able to read such an amazing story.
I think the story that was the best in terms of storytelling would have to be "Heads of the Colored People". It's the first story in the book and it also shares its name. The way the author connects and acknowledges four different lives and ties them together was masterful. This is done all while making a comment on police brutality in the system. I remember the feeling of it clicking in my head when I realized the characters from each story were referencing one another.
Belle Letress had the most impact on me because the way it was constructed kept me on my toes the whole time. I was alerted from the moment it began it was going to be a dramatic story just by how the author's words made me stand on edge. I really enjoyed this part of the book and it showed me just how much we pick up on "in between the lines" of a book. The experience is not always in your face, it's definitely in the structure of the piece as well that makes a good read a good read.
The story that stuck out to me the most was “Whisper to a Scream.” In this story it shows the modern day struggles that young girls have to go through today. With them being silenced and looked over by everyone, including their loved ones, and having to put up with these problems by themselves.
-Nijay Spellman, 5/7/21
I liked all the stores but the one I loved the most was “Belles Lettress”. The book takes us through the history of the fictional journal and focuses on a particularly turbulent period. -Laurel White
Belles Lettress stuck out to me the most. Having a story that's narrated through letters is something that I have never seen before, and was definitely an enjoyable experience. Not having the traditional narration of a story and bringing something new to the table can bring out the imagination of the reader immensely and that's what happened here. The letters between the two mothers showed the big differences in their personalities and how they responded to certain situations. Although the pettiness levels within the letters was at an all-time high, both mothers just had different ways of going about things and accepted it between themselves.
There is a lot going on in this excellent short story collection. Each story examines the black middle class experience. Lots of interesting commentary on navigating the digital age and being a person. Nafissa Thompson-Spires has a wonderful tone and an even better command of her stories. -Laurel White
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