Tony Earley’s “Somehow Form a Family” is a memoir essay about his family, growing up in a typical American small town, and the influence (intrusion?) of television on their lives. I think there is much you might take from this essay as you work to complete your own Memoir Essay this week.
In the first paragraph, Earley gives us a description of himself, and some context regarding his family. (Also note the “July 1969” marker). And then in the next two paragraphs, he adequately maps the neighborhood he lives in. The result is that we are pulled into the story. He has answered for us the questions of “who?” and “where?”. Look at your own essay and consider whether or not you have effectively answered these two questions.
One of the lasting characteristics of this essay for me is the way Earley buries the domestic traumas behind the television viewing. There are longer descriptions about the television shows than the family:, just one line about his sister’s death, and only a couple about his father leaving.
In your response #2 below, discuss that balance between television viewing and family dynamics. What point might Earley being trying to make in burying the family dynamics? Is this effective? How does the final scene with Ann B. Davis lay into this idea? Finally, what do you take from this essay that you might use in your own?
Looking forward to reading your responses. Please feel free to respond to each other, too!