Notes on “Walter’s Graduation”
|June 30, 2012||Posted by Michael Pape under Pape Blog, The Blog|
1) I really like the cover.
2) The main bulk of this was written a few years ago, and (unlike much of my work) was pretty well-received. It's one of those things I just started writing without having a middle or end in mind. I don't think I'd even settled on a name for the main character. I just knew I wanted the story to involve high school and cheating.
3) Fun fact: Did you know that something like 100% of those born between 1980 and 2000 (commonly called "millennials") don't see anything wrong with cheating w/r/t their schoolwork? Ok, so maybe not 100%. But it's a significant majority of young people. There exists a school of thought that thinks this is just fine, and that what they're really doing is learning skills (like cheating) that will enable them to succeed in their future endeavors. They are also learning faster ways to get stuff done., which these people say is more important than being able to recite some so-called facts that they'll forget in a week anyway. I contend that things are going to continue to blow up (like space shuttles, the Eurozone, and freedom, to name some dramatic examples) until we get a handle on this cheating problem and young people learn to think properly for themselves.
4) As far as the style goes, I'm pretty pleased with the final result. I did "break tense" twice, but I kept them in because I like the idea of keeping you, the audience, off balance. Both instances are in parenthetical statements, and indicate more than meets the eye is going on with the narration. That's also why I included the one footnote.
5) Does anyone besides me remember the Hakeem Olajuwon unstoppable shoe commercials? Or Dallas Comegys? Basketball keeps seeping into these stories.
6) If this short story had a study guide, the first question would be, "Do you think Mr. Paulsen knew Walter cheated? Why or why not?"
7) Mr. Paulsen is loosely based on Vic Paulos (1927-2009), longtime history teacher at Milwaukee Lutheran High School. May he RIP.