Writing Response 4

Anthony Bianco

Professor Alvarez

ENGL 363

06 November 2011

The People of Paper: A Collaboration of Images and Internal/External Focalizaiton

Although the image may not produce the same effect in a word document, the physical aspect of this image appearing in a book delivers an exciting thrill to the reader. La Muerte is a signifier not only for death, but also, ironically, a breath of fresh air for readers looking for a change in their reading experience. There are an abundance of these images scattered throughout The People of Paper, which delivers a strange sense of Salvador Plascencia tailoring a children’s book into a full-fledged adult novel. Palscencia writes:


Federico de la Fe did not win a single game of lotería,

He thought that perhaps an evil omen was at work.

The only pictures he ever placed a bean over were

those of the devil and the grim reaper:

(Plascencia 22)

Salvador Plascencia obviously devoted a tremendous amount of time to perfecting the uniqueness of his novel, The People of Paper. For a novel that was published in 2005, a fairly recent date, this piece of writing stands out amongst the rest not just because of its multiple perspectives of internal and external focalizaiton, but also for the physical arrangement of words and images throughout the book. In a time where literature is accessible through means of the Internet, along with kindles and nooks just beginning to take off, Plascencia rides completely off the rails by adopting a book style that is almost comparable to a children’s book. Plascencia demonstrates an array of images, in addition to sometimes physically turning to the book vertically in order to fit the perspectives of each character involved into one full page. For example, after giving a description of Saturn’s betting style, Plascencia portrays the image of La Muerte. Shortly after, Little Merced tells us about her experience with Baby Nostradamus which is followed by a long black vertical rectangle signifying blankness and disorientation from reality. Plascencia reminds us in this novel that images sometimes do speak louder than words by producing a much stronger effect as compared to words on a page. This approach allows a sense of interaction with the reader and the book itself by viewing images and turning the actual novel.

Similarly, Manfred Jhan describes internal focalization as being “presented from a character’s point of view” (Jahn N3.2.1) whereas external focalization is through the reader’s point of view. We as readers are given the opportunity to engage in most characters’ involvement in each scene. The internal focalization of Little Merced as compared to the external focalization of Saturn gives us the best of both worlds, allowing us to really grasp a full perspective of the characters, which Plascencia clearly intended for us to read in his first work.

Works Cited

Digital image. Glyph Jockey. Google. Web. 06 Nov. 2011. <http://www.glyphjockey.com/loteria/images/Card-14—La-Muerte.jpg>.

Jahn, Manfred. “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative.” 28 May 2005. Web. 06 November 2011.                                                                                             <http://www.unikoeln.de/~ame02/pppn.htm>.

Plascencia, Salvador. The People of Paper. San Francisco: McSweeney’s Books, 2005. Print.

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One thought on “Writing Response 4

  1. Anthony, first off, you spelled a word wrong in your title: The People of Paper: A Collaboration of Images and Internal/External Focalizaiton

    second, you didn’t include the authors name, and you used the book’s title for the part in the title where you are supposed to pull your readers in.

    I think the MLA for the image is slightly off. Why the words “Digital image”?

    Why do you consider the design of Placsencia’s novel as “child”-like? Does that mean it can’t be considered highbrow literature? Or does that lessen the literary value of his work?

    I like how you added the media as well, that was pretty cool. You’re using the same tricks as Plascencia then.

    If focalization is you want to focus on, then I suggest looking through Jahn for all you can about what he says and making some PIE paragraphs with them for your theory section.

    I counted 8 “to be” verbs, so that took you down to a 4.2 out of 5 points. Revise out the “to be” verbs.

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