Blog Archive

Search This Blog

Monday, November 22, 2010

List1.2. Life’s achievements: James Michener. The writer as storyteller


List1.2. James Michener.  The writer as storyteller                       3-4  level    20-30 min

GOAL. To understand the passages in detail where he explores his work from an interview.

FACTFILE. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist James A. Michener has entertained the planet creating one hit after another. His books emphasize harmonious relationships among people aiming at overcoming ignorance and prejudice.

You will listen to the short pieces of a long interview held in 1971 where Michener reviews his life achievements. The listening pieces are recorded in Quicktime.

WARMING UP.
Q1.What kind of novels do you like?  ......................................................................................................
Q2.Have you read interviews about writers and their work? Who? .........................................................
Q3. Which is the most successful historical novel in the last 5 years?  ....................................................
Q4. Who is your favourite historical novelist in any language?  ...........................................................
Q5. How long does it take to write a novel if you have to look up the facts of the past? ..........................

LANGUAGE PRACTICE
TASK 1. Listen to passage1 (0:29) and answer these questions. He looks back at his origins.
Q1. He confesses he’s a mix. What aspects are part of this mixture? 
……………………     ………………………      …………….……      ……………………
Q2. What is the positive news, according to him? ……………………………………………………..
Q3. What was he missing at home?  ……………………………………………………………………..

TASK 2. He deals with material things.   Listen to passage2 (0:56) and answer these questions. 
Q1. What toys did he never have?: …………………  ………………  ……………………  ………………..
Q2. What decision did he come up with in his early childhood? ……….…………………………………..
Q3. How important was money in his adult life? ……………………………………………………………..

TASK 3. He felt quite free in his early teens. Listen to passage3 (0:50) and answer these questions. 
Q1. How much money did he need to have on the road?  ………………………………………………
Q2. Why was it so easy to hichhike?  …………..…….………………………………………………….
Q3. How far did he travel? ………………………………………………………………………………….

TASK 4. Life is made up of differences. He ponders about turning points in life. Listen to passage4  (0:36) and answer these questions. 
Q1. His 3 main influences were:  …………………….  ……..………..…..  ………….………………………
Q2. How good were his marks in school?  ……………………………………………….
Q3. Which were his dreams for the future? ……………………………………………….

TASK 5. He emphasizes the sudden moments of inner life. Listen to passage5 (0:42) and answer these questions. 
Q1. When does he find time to be alone?  …………………………………………………………….
Q2. What piece of advice does he give about ‘differential experiences’ in our lives?
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Q3. How was he transformed during these inspiring moments?
………………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………
TASK 6. He lived through some critical moments in his twenties in the Pacific. Listen to passage6 (1:06) and answer these questions. 
Q1. In which context did the event take place?             a) holidays              b) research              c) war
Q2. What were the problems with the plane? Give details.  ……………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………….……………………………………….
Q3. What did he think the third time the task was performed? ………………………………………………

TASK 7. He reflects on his enduring habits. Listen to passage7 (1:42) and answer these questions. 
Q1. What does he assume about any new project he undertakes? ………………………………………
Q2. What are the two implications of his decision? …………………………………………………………
…………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………………
Q3. Why does he break up his severe discipline of working at home?
…………………………………………………………………….……………………………………………….

TASK 8. He recalls one fixture of his writing. Listen to passage8 (1:14) and answer these questions. 
Q1. Does he acknowledge the difficulty to read his thick works? ………………………………………….
Q2. When does he know the reader is engrossed in his novel? ………………………………………….
Q3. How does he phrase his gift as a novelist?  …………………………………………………………….
…………………………………………………………..…………………………………………………………




DETAILED LISTENING. Revisit some passages.
TASK 9. Life In his early teens was free indeed. Finish the passage doing a dictation passage3.
Again and again, when I was 14 and 15, I ………………………………………………………….……. …….………………………. I think I had a quarter and a dime [coins] …………………………………… …..………………... Never phased me a bit. Go …………………………………………..………………. ………………...  In those days, it was easy to do. Everybody ……………………………………….. .………………... , and …….……………………………………………………... . If they liked you, they would ……………………………………………………... …………………………………………………….. . And there were no weirdoes on the road then. …………………………………………………………….... ……………. I had a ……………………………………………………... …………………………………....

TASK 10. Life is made up of differences. He ponders about turning points in life. Listen to passage4  (0:36) and answer these questions.  Fill in the blanks:
Q1. “I do believe that everyone growing up ………………… differential opportunities”
Q2. “I think young people ………………………………… that differential experience that is going to ……….. them  ……..…….  dead  center.”
Q3. “I had no …………………………………………………. . And I never had …….……………………...”

TASK 11. He reflects on his enduring habits in  passage7 (1:42). Fill in the blanks. 
A fundamental difference between ………………………………………………………… is  that when I start a project, I know ……………………………….. three years. So ………………………………………   ………  …………………………………………………………………  three years. And two, I have to have a pretty …………………………………………………………………… three years. I work every day of the week. I get up ………………………………………………. And I have to …………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………… for my professional obligations. But I work every day.

TASK 12. He expresses the continuity in storytelling. Listen to passage9 (0:44) and fill in the blanks. 
I believe throughout history, through all of history, …………………………………………  days of the human race, when people ………………………………………………………… at night, they wanted to remember what had happened and ……………………………………………….. …………………………  and maybe get new dedication to the next day. Well, I'm one of the guys …………………………………  and did the talking.

FOLLOW UP. Read the transcript and the full interview at  www.achievement.org


KEY. List1.2. James Michener. Writer as storyteller    
WARMING UP. Open.

TASK 1. He looks back at his origins.

Q1. What aspects are part of this mixture?  Jewish, Negro, Irish, Russian
Q2. What is the positive news, according to him? I did have a solid childhood fortunately, because of some wonderful women who brought me up.
Q3. What was he missing at home?  I never had a father or a man in the house, and that was a loss, but you live with that loss. 
TASK 2. He deals with material things.  
Q1. Toys he never had: bicycle, little wagon, baseball glove, pair of sneakers.
Q2. Decision he came up to at his early childhood: that's the way it is.  I'm not going to beat my brains out about having nothing
Q3. Money importance in his adult life?  never part of my life so why worry about it.
TASK 3. He felt quite free in his early teens.
Q1. How much money did he need to have on the road?  I did it on nothing. (I would leave home with 25 or 35 -- 35 cents. I think I had a quarter and a dime on two of my trips.
Q2. Why was so easy to hichhike?  Everybody had a new car, and they wanted to show it off. Often times feed you and take you to their home
Q3. How far did he travelled? Go right straight across the continent…. I went everywhere
TASK 4. Life is made up of differences. Which were his turning points in life.
Q1. His 3 main influences were:  books and travel and some good teachers.
Q2. How good were his marks in school?  pretty good  “all A’s” (top grades) and good at sports.
Q3. Which were his dreams for the future?  No projections, no yearnings.

TASK 5. He emphasizes the sudden moments of inner life.
Q1. When does he find time to be alone?    After Friday afternoon, he gets through the week, and eats something. And then along came these differential experiences
Q2. What piece of advice does he give about ‘differential experiences’ in our lives?
 (they are)experiences that you don't look for,don't plan for, but, boy, you better not miss them.
Q3. How was he transformed during these inspiring moments?  they give you a vision. The things that give you a challenge.
TASK 6. He lived through some critical moments in his twenties in the Pacific. Listen to passage six (1:06) and answer these questions. 
Q1. In which context did the event took place? a) holidays  b) research  c) war
(Admiral Halsey had his fleet headquarters there, and I was working there)
Q2. What were the troubles with the plane? Give details.  we had to make three passes at the air field. The weather was really quite bad. A big turn to the left to get over the mountain and get out to sea, turn 360 degrees, and come back .. . and you hope you can make that turn because you need both elevation and speed
Q3. What did he think the third time the task was performed?  “wait a minute. This isn't going to work. This is tough. We may have had it.”
TASK 7. He reflects on his enduring habits.
Q1. What does he assume about any new project he undertakes? when I start a project, I know it's going to take at least three years.
Q2. What are the two implications of his decision? two things ensue. One, it has to be a pretty good idea to keep me excited for three years. And two, I have to have a pretty good head of steam just to keep going physically and mentally for three years
Q3. Why does he break up his severe discipline of working at home? And I have to take time out for research or a trip here or there or for my professional obligations
TASK 8. He recalls one fixture of his writing.
Q1. Does he acknowledge the difficulty to read his thick works? the first one hundred pages, which are very difficult, and I make them difficult.
Q2. When does he know the reader is engrossed in his novel? a person, (with moderate interest in what I am writing about,) and if she or he will stay with me for the first one hundred pages, the reader will be hooked.
Q3. How does he phrases his gift as a novelist?  (I know how to tell) what's happening on the next story and the next story and the next. That I have. And that's a wonderful gift. That's storytelling. And I prize it. I try to keep it cleaned up. I try to keep it on focus.
Detailed tasks. TASK 9. Passage three. Again and again, when I was 14 and 15, I would leave home with 25 or 35 -- 35 cents sticks in my mind. I think I had a quarter and a dime on two of my trips. Never phased me a bit. Go right straight across the continent. In those days, it was easy to do. Everybody had a new car, and they wanted to show it off. If they liked you, they would pick you up and often times feed you and take you to their home. And there were no weirdoes on the road then. There were, but we never saw them. I had a vivid experience in those years. I went everywhere, and I did it on nothing.
TASK 10. Fill in the blanks:
1. “I do believe that everyone growing up ..faces.. differential opportunities
2. I think young people …ought to seek.. that differential experience that is going to …knock… them off … dead  center.
3. I had no …great vision. of what I could be. And I never had any …yearning..
TASK 11. Passage 7A fundamental difference between other people and me is that when I start a project, I know it's going to take at least three years. So two things ensue. One, it has to be a pretty good idea to keep me excited for three years. And two, I have to have a pretty good head of steam just to keep going physically and mentally for three years. I work every day of the week. I get up early and go right to the typewriter. And I have to take time out for research or a trip here or there or for my professional obligations. But I work every day.

TASK 12. He expresses the continuity in storytelling. Listen to passage nine (x0:42) and fill in the blanks. 
I believe throughout history, through all of history, way back to the most early days of the human race, when people   gathered around    the fireplace at night, they wanted to remember what had happened and reflect upon the big events of that day and reassess values   and maybe get new dedication to the next day. Well, I'm one of the guys who sat around the fireplace and did the talking.
FOLLOW UP.
Listen to the full interview in  http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/mic0int-1






Listen 1.2. James Michener. The writer as storyteller  . All transcripts.
Passage one. (0:29) I could be Jewish; I could be part Negro; I could be Irish; I could be Russian. I am spiritually a mix anyway, but I did have a solid childhood fortunately, because of some wonderful women who brought me up. I never had a father or a man in the house, and that was a loss, but you live with that loss.
Passage two. (0:56) At Christmas, we rarely had anything. As a boy, I never had a pair of skates, never had a bicycle, never had a little wagon, never had a baseball glove, never had a pair of sneakers. I didn't have anything. And do you know, at about seven or eight, I just decided, "Well, that's the way it is. And I'm not going to beat my brains out about it." I never had an automobile until I was 45 because they didn't exist. I just said that's not part of my life. I'm not going to worry about it. And I never have.
Passage three. (0:50)  Again and again, when I was 14 and 15, I would leave home with 25 or 35 -- 35 cents sticks in my mind. I think I had a quarter and a dime on two of my trips. Never phased me a bit. Go right straight across the continent. In those days, it was easy to do. Everybody had a new car, and they wanted to show it off. If they liked you, they would pick you up and often times feed you and take you to their home. And there were no weirdoes on the road then. There were, but we never saw them. I had a vivid experience in those years. I went everywhere, and I did it on nothing.
Passage four. (0:36) I do believe that everyone growing up faces differential opportunities. With me, it was books and travel and some good teachers. With somebody else, it may be a boy scout master. With somebody else, it will be a clergyman. Somebody else, an uncle who was wiser than the father. I think young people ought to seek that differential experience that is going to knock them off dead center. I was a typical American school boy. I happened to get straight A's and be pretty good in sports. But I had no great vision of what I could be. And I never had any yearning.

Passage five. (0:42) 
My job was to live through Friday afternoon, get through the week, and eat something. And then along came these differential experiences that you don't look for, that you don't plan for, but, boy, you better not miss them. The things that make you bigger than you are. The things that give you a vision. The things that give you a challenge.
Passage six. (1:09) That night, I could not sleep, and I went out on that airstrip on Tontutta. I'll never forget it, about eighteen miles north of where our headquarters were. And I walked along the airstrip, and that's when the war hit me, and that's when the phenomenon I spoke of before hit me. I said, "When this is over, I'm not going to be the same guy. I am going to live as if I were a great man." I never said I was going to be a great man because I had no idea what my capacities were. I had no great confidence; nothing in my background gave me a reason to think so. But I was not forestalled from acting as if I were. That is, deal with big subjects.
 Passage 7. (1:42)  James Michener: A fundamental difference between other people and me is that when I start a project, I know it's going to take at least three years. So two things ensue. One, it has to be a pretty good idea to keep me excited for three years. And two, I have to have a pretty good head of steam just to keep going physically and mentally for three years. I work every day of the week. I get up early and go right to the typewriter. And I have to take time out for research or a trip here or there or for my professional obligations. But I work every day.

Passage 8. (1:42)  Boy, I can tell a story. I can get a person, with moderate interest in what I am writing about, and if she or he will stay with me for the first one hundred pages, which are very difficult, and I make them difficult, he will be hooked. He will want to know what's happening on the next story and the next story and the next. That I have. And that's a wonderful gift. That's storytelling. And I prize it. I try to keep it cleaned up. I try to keep it on focus.

Passage 9. (1:42)  I believe throughout history, through all of history, way back to the most early days of the human race, when people gathered around the fireplace at night, they wanted to remember what had happened and reflect upon the big events of that day and reassess values and maybe get new dedication to the next day. Well, I'm one of the guys who sat around the fireplace and did the talking.


No comments:

Post a Comment