Opening the Diary, I Write Unspoken Words: Delivery of Grief in My Year of Meats

Opening the Diary, I Write Unspoken Words: Delivery of Grief in My Year of Meats


Things That Make One’s Heart Ache

A genuine kiss on the lips but a different woman at heart.

A joyful family on the screens but a torn relationship behind the scenes.


Mimicking, perhaps, the style of The Pillow Book authored by Sei Shōnagon, I have become a diarist or journalist who attempts to document a matter – a matter that relates to the diary, memo, or documentary that Jane Takagi-Little has detailed in My Year of Meats, authored by Ruth Ozeki. The structure of the literary piece can be broken down into three interesting perspectives, which are manifested through Jane’s personal account of her team’s new television series, My American Wife!. The first perspective is a perspective from the fourth dimension – one like that of a television program director in which she sees the world she has created within the television series. The second and third perspective is the first person and third person point of view within that artificial world or television series. The combination of all three perspectives delivered in a diary and documentary form exemplifies the grief of the subjects observed.

The prologue of My Year of Meats begins with “The American Wife sits on the floor in front of a fire place. The flickering light from an electric yule log, left there all year round, plays across…” (2). This description creates an objective tone and establishes a specific setting, which is later revealed to be a three-dimensional world that the team for the television program My American Wife! directs from the fourth dimension. With phrases such as “Roll camera – and five, four, three…,” the reader begins with a set of emotions that is unattached to the romantic kiss scene of the married couple, the Flowers’ family (3).

However, this sense of detachment is quickly bridged by the personal accounts of Jane, either about herself or the Flowers’ family. Just as Jane’s mother retorts, “How you can say ‘justa name’?,” the reader quickly realizes that the kiss is not a genuine kiss, given that “the husband [has] left [Mrs. Flowers]” after the confession of his affair and that the crew has been able to shoot the scene because “[they] shot [that scene] the first day [they] got there” (16).The first person perspective and its interactions among various characters within and without the show serve to connect emotionally the reader with the participants. The experiences and grief of Suzie Flowers fill the hearts of the reader precisely because of the strong contrast between these two stages. Just as in music dynamics, the effect of fortissimo is best delivered by beginning with pianissmo. By emptying out the emotions of the reader during the prologue, the author is able to manipulate the emotions of the reader as highlighted by the following quote, “‘You see,’ she said, as her tears welled and her voice dissolved, ‘it’s all I’ve got left…’” (20).

The emotions of the reader are slowly filled by the author, who begins by stating objectively the settings of the household. Later, various elements such as the coldness of Oda and the compassion of Jane manifested in various perspectives juxtaposes two opposing feelings. As a result, the sorrow of Mrs. Flowers and its impact become personal.


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