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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mad About You ‘Mad Men’

     Someone once described a personal essay, a piece based on a childhood memory of one significant Fourth of July, I wrote as being “too safe.”  This criticism both baffled and angered me.  In the essay I had wrote how it was a miracle my father did not lose an eye or a limb as he chugged down a beer he held in one hand and lit firecrackers with the other.  The criticism upset me because I got the sense that the reader wanted to see something more shocking written there.  Like a passage about him chasing us around in a drunken rage threatening to set us on fire (for the record something like this never happened). 
    As time passed and I continued writing this early dig still gnawed at me.  It was not until after I became a mother and the length of my free time shrinking forced me to watch my favorite shows like ‘Mad Men’ in marathon weekend sessions did it finally click with me as to what that reader really wanted from my essay.  She wanted to know how I felt in that moment watching my father nursing a can of something that impaired his judgment while handling beautifully packaged explosives with his wife and children only inches away, cheering him on.  How my young mind went about processing what I saw was the true area of interest.  Take for instance the character Sally Draper portrayed by +Kiernan Shipka on ‘Mad Men.’
    This character fascinates me because I love seeing how a young girl is internalizing this very adult world around her.  For example this one scene during season five when she stumbles upon her step-grandmother performing a lewd act on her father’s business partner.  She deduces that New York is a dirty place.  I’ve learned that it is crucial for me to convey how key events in the lives of my characters are helping to mold them that the reader not only wants to see the world through their eyes for a time but to also slip under their skin, to know things about them they try so hard to keep hidden away.  Don Draper played by +Jon Hamm is a great example.  Once he has a dream in which he strangles a woman he had an affair with during his second marriage.  The scene expresses to the viewer that Don is struggling with being faithful to wife number three and that she is unaware of this inner conflict.  Those aforementioned episodes are why I, Tanya Yvonne, am mad about ‘Mad Men’.
  Happy reading, writing, or whatever:!)