Slides in AP Lang Tone Practice Passages
These essences are restored to our consciousness by persons who are described as artists. I shall speak here of artists who write novels and stories, since I understand them better than poets or dramatists. When you open a novel--and I mean of course the real thing--you enter into a state of intimacy with its writer. You hear a voice or, more significantly, an individual tone under the words. This tone you, the reader, will identify not so much by a name, the name of the author, as by a distinct and unique human quality. It seems to issue from the bosom, from a place beneath the breastbone. It is more musical than verbal, and it is the characteristic signature of a person, of a soul. Such a writer has power over distraction and fragmentation, and out of distressing unrest, even from the edge of chaos, he can bring unity and carry us into a state of intransitive attention. People hunger for this.
I loved Georgian chants, the sight of nuns at prayer on Good Friday, the sanctus bells, the covered forms of saints during Lent, the drum roll of the confiteor with all the sadness and elegance of a dead language filling a church and entering my bloodstream at the ear, and the sunburst of gold when the priest raised the monstrous chalice at consecration. I loved the ceremony, the adherence to tradition, and the arsenal of metaphor. I have never recovered from the vividness of its imagery, from the daze of its language. But I have never had a single day when I wished to be Catholic again.
I refused to fail. I was smart. I was arrogant. I was lucky. I read books late into the night, until I could barely keep my eyes open. I read books at recess, then during lunch, and in the few minutes left after I had finished my classroom assignments. I read books in the car when my family traveled to powwows or basketball games. In shopping malls, I ran to the bookstores and read bits and pieces of as many books as I could. I read the books my father brought home from the pawnshops and secondhand. I read the books I borrowed from the library. I read the backs of cereal boxes. I read the newspaper. I read the bulletins posted on the walls of the school, the clinic, the tribal offices, the post office. I read junk mail. I read auto-repair manuals. I read magazines. I read anything that had words and paragraphs. I read with equal parts joy and desperation. I loved those books, but I also knew that love had only one purpose. I was trying to save my life.