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judyprays's avatar

Can you reccommend any pieces of work that have a really strong voice?

Asked by judyprays (1304points) December 2nd, 2008

I’m thinking mostly in terms of essays, but anything will do. Also, if you know of anything specifically about voice, that would be interesting, too.

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20 Answers

Judi's avatar

If you mean making a statement try this

scamp's avatar

“The barbarians will learn what America’s all about”
We’ll go forward from this moment

BY LEONARD PITTS JR. <leonardpitts@mindspring.com>
It’s my job to have something to say.
“They pay me to tease shades of meaning from social and cultural issues, to provide words that help make sense of that which troubles the American soul.

But in this moment of airless shock when hot tears sting disbelieving eyes, the only thing I can find to say, the only words that seem to fit, must be addressed to the unknown author of this suffering. You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard. What lesson did you hope to teach us by your coward’s attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us? What was it you hoped we would learn? Whatever it was, please know that you failed.

Did you want us to respect your cause? You just damned your cause. Did you want to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve. Did you want to tear us apart? You just brought us together. Let me tell you about my people. We are a vast and quarrelsome family, a family rent by racial, cultural, political and class division, but a family nonetheless. We’re frivolous, yes, capable of expending tremendous emotional energy on pop cultural minutiae, a singer’s revealing dress, a ball team’s misfortune, a cartoon mouse.

We’re wealthy, too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets and material goods, and maybe because of that, we walk through life with a certain sense of blithe entitlement. We are fundamentally decent, though – peace-loving and compassionate. We struggle to know the right thing and to do it. And we are, the overwhelming majority of us, people of faith, believers in a just and loving God.

Some people – you, perhaps – think that any or all of this makes us weak. You’re mistaken. We are not weak. Indeed, we are strong in ways that cannot be measured by arsenals.

Yes, we’re in pain now. We are in mourning and we are in shock. We’re still grappling with the unreality of the awful thing you did, still working to make ourselves understand that this isn’t a special effect from some Hollywood blockbuster, isn’t the plot development from a Tom Clancy novel.

Both in terms of the awful scope of its ambition and the probable final death toll, your attacks are likely to go down as the worst acts of terrorism in the history of the United States and, indeed, the history of the world. You’ve bloodied us as we have never been bloodied before.

But there’s a gulf of difference between making us bloody and making us fall. This is the lesson Japan was taught to its bitter sorrow the last time anyone hit us this hard, the last time anyone brought us such abrupt and monumental pain. When roused, we are righteous in our outrage, terrible in our force. When provoked by this level of barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any cost, go to any length, in the pursuit of justice.

I tell you this without fear of contradiction. I know my people, as you, I think, do not. What I know reassures me. It also causes me to tremble with dread of the future.

In days to come, there will be recrimination and accusation, fingers pointing to determine whose failure allowed this to happen and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. There will be heightened security, misguided talk of revoking basic freedoms. We’ll go forward from this moment sobered, chastened, sad. But determined, too. Unimaginably determined.

You see, there is steel beneath this velvet. That aspect of our character is seldom understood by people who don’t know us well. On this day, the family’s bickering is put on hold. As Americans we will weep, as Americans we will mourn, and as Americans, we will rise in defense of all that we cherish.

Still, I keep wondering what it was you hoped to teach us. It occurs to me that maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred.

If that’s the case, consider the message received. And take this message in exchange: You don’t know my people. You don’t know what we’re about. You don’t know what you just started. But you’re about to learn.”

Miami Herald, Miami, FL. Wednesday, September 12, 2001.

bodyhead's avatar

The I have a dream speech has the strongest combination of message and powerful speaking that I think I’ve ever heard.

EmpressPixie's avatar

The Yes We Can speech is pretty damn moving.

Judi's avatar

I agree empress! Did you see my youtube link?

shadling21's avatar

What kind of works are you looking for? Highly personal works? Opinionated? Motivational? I’m not sure I understand the concept of “voice”.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@Judi, no I did not.

TitsMcGhee's avatar

City on a Hill is pretty strong (by John Winthrop), and if you’re looking for an interesting take on “strong,” try A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift.

martinf's avatar

“How to Speak Poetry” by Leonard Cohen is fairly rad

IBERnineD's avatar

John Winthrop’s City upon a Hill. It is quite beautiful!!!

augustlan's avatar

If you’re thinking of written material that strongly (immediately?) convey their author’s voice (style?), I’d suggest looking into Mark Twain. His ‘voice’ is pretty consistent throughout his work.

eaglei20200's avatar

The narrator’s voice in MOBY DICK is pretty hard to beat. The weird flatness of the narrative voice in NETHERLAND is also pretty intense in a totally-not-intense kind of way. Lotsa folks would suggest that the Psalms and the Book of Genesis would fit into the “really strong voice” category.

Emily Dickinson’s poetry beats it all, though.

But you specify “essay.” Any of the great English essayists, I guess. I’d have to second Swift and add Lamb. Pepys’s diaries have a pretty strong voice.

So what is voice—combination of usage, point of view, sentence structure, irony (or not; see Genesis), choice of language, rhythm…?

scamp's avatar

@augustlan I agree!

wondersteph's avatar

I agree with scamp & augustlan.
Twain is excellent.
I’d try any Poe, too.

steelmarket's avatar

On the funny side, try Dave Barry. Or, Elmore Leonard.

augustlan's avatar

Or Carl Hiaasen!

90s_kid's avatar

Well, I was going to say Jennifer Hudson, but we are talking about authors, not singers :).

andrew's avatar

Well, you must read this. Eggers on not being a critic.

linguaphile's avatar

“You Gotta Have Soul” by Tom Robbins. Shadling21—When someone has a strong voice in their writing, you can SEE/HEAR the person behind the words- with Tom Robbins, I feel like I’m sitting across the table from him in a downtown coffeeshop. A good example of extremely weak voice is a good business letter or anything in business-speak (shudder).
Hope you enjoy this!
http://www.josephshuster.com/others/Robbins,Tom-YouGottaHaveSoul.htm
P.S. I agree about Dave Barry!

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