I think I was supposed to just post questions about Kertzer but I just couldn’t help myself.
- When discussing the concept of “risky laughter,” Kertzer repeatedly refers to Junior’s “satire” (55). Do you agree that Junior’s humor is satirical, or is it just offensive? Kertzer gives Junior’s obsession over Penelope as an example; is this a classic example of the objectifying male gaze, or satire?
- Does Kertzer give Alexie too much credit, or is this book just “a mainstream novel that says little new” like Brandford suggests (50)?
- Kertzer states Alexie creates two types of laughter: laughing at an object and communal laughter. Does he? Does Junior ever become part of this communal laughter, and if so, at what cost?
- Crandall’s attempt at a disability reading of the novel seems desperate, not because he isn’t trying, but because Alexie has Junior self-diagnose at the start of the novel and then never mention his disabilities again. Because disability is not prominent in the text, Crandall had very little to analyze. Is the article a failure because of Crandall’s problematic analysis (use of the word “handicapped,” disability and race equivalency, disability as metaphor/metaphorical disability) or because of Alexie’s lack of inclusion and discussion of Junior’s disabilities?
- In the novel, Junior’s disabilities are described in detailed on pages 1-4; afterwards they are basically never mentioned again. Why? What happens to them? Does he “overcome” them? Do they not affect his life? Are they not important to him, or to his story? The answer to all of those questions is most likely “no,” so why does Alexie not explore the disability angle more? Does this harm the novel overall?
- One of the most unique parts about YA novels that have disabled protagonist as first-person narrators is getting insight into the mind of the character, specifically how they deal with language, time, perception, interpersonal relationships, etc. The style of the narration (diction, punctuation, paragraph breaks, sentence structure, timeline, descriptions, spelling) often reflects the mind of the disabled narrator. For example, in “Wonder” Justin’s section had run-on sentences and no capitol letters, which was supposed to be a reflection in some way of his mental processes. In “Challenger Deep” the prose often literally mirrored Caden’s state of mind, sometimes with many very short paragraphs, and other times with very long sentences and paragraphs. However, in “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” Junior states “I’m not even writing down this story the way I actually talk” (4) blatantly admitting that the prose does not match his actual experiences with language. Is this yet another example of Alexie ignoring disability?
Maybe I can just pretend that I wanted to assign it in order to have a productive discussion about some of the ways that disability theory can be misused in children’s literature criticism. That seems like a good story for me to stick with! CH