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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Intertextuality by Mary Gordon

"My family liked stories that were funny. If a story wasn't funny, there didn't seem to them much point in telling it..." This story is about how we find out who we are from our ancestors.

"Twelve years after my grandmother's arrival in New York, having unshackled herself from work as a domestic by making herself a master seamstress, having married a Sicilian against everyone's advice, having borne a child by him and become pregnant with another, my grandmother paid for her mother, four sisters, and two brothers to come across to New York.

When the ship docked my grandmother was in labor, so she couldn't meet it. This meant she couldn't vouch for the new immigrants. So she sent her sister-in-law, whose name was identical to hers. My grandmother was a strapping woman, nearly six feet, with large, fair figures. My Sicilian great-aunt was a small dark beauty of five foot two with the hands and feet of a doll. When my great-grandmother saw my great-aunt pretending to be my grandmother, she refused, the story goes, to set foot off the ship. 'If that's what happens to you in America, I'm not putting a foot near the place,' she said.

Stories like this one add to the ability of the writer to capture the attention but also make the reader happy and laugh.

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