A Sort of Preface

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“A Sort of Preface” is a short piece of prose written by Toni Cade Bambara, extracted from “Gorilla, My love”, which was published in 1984. It can be classified as narrative prose and is written in the first person. It consists of 3 paragraphs of varying length. The subject of this piece can be interpreted as to be one side of an argument on why not to write autobiographical fiction. The piece is set in Brooklyn, New York in the 1940s.

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She treats and reports her mothers expected actions more cynical than serious and reasonable. However, the last paragraph contains clear evidence that she does value her family. The atmosphere present in “A Sort of Preface” is created by the casual, crude, informal, but humorous tone. This tone and the absence of nearly any punctuation gives the reader the impression that the narrator is basically just talking ahead without much thought. Her attempts to make a point on why not to write autobiographical fiction result in short stories of what she has already experienced in similar situations, or what she expects would happen.

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The final clue is in the last paragraph: “I lie a lot anyway”. This is mentioned in a different context, but the statement is a general one. The book that may follow from this preface may therefore be an autobiographical novel, it may be just an introduction to a “straight-up” novel, simply introducing herself, or it may be part of both. Since this preface has autobiographical information, she could be possible have “intended” it to be non-autobiographical, but could not stay completely consistent with not writing anything autobiographical. This could also justify why the title is “a sort of a preface”, and not just “a preface”.

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