The writing style of Figiel’s They Who do not Grieve is quite different than anything we have experienced before in this course. What stood out to me in particular whilst reading the story was her use of repetition. On the very first page she states, “A story is like a river. Like a river it trickles from the source until it flows, flows, flows” (Figiel 3). There is an emphasis in this work on the art of storytelling and oral tradition, “Don’t write anything down! It’s the easiest (and surest) way to forget things” (Figiel 5). Her entire writing style appears to be based off of this idea of oral tradition. When we watched the clip of her reading one of her works in class, one of our main reactions was that after hearing her voice, we could clearly hear it in our minds while reading the story. In addition, we find out right in the first chapter that Malu “carries” stories. If someone were to be reading this story aloud, the repetition of words would have an even greater effect that it does on that page, depending on the delivery.
On the page, however, her use of repetition is also quite striking. For example, when Malu is talking about her mother she repeats the word “dead” over and over, five times in one page. The repetition of words and phrases that are most common help the reader delve into the minds of the characters. In the repetition of “dead” for example, we can assume that Malu thinks about her mother quite often, and that her death was an event that traumatized and changed Malu. It emphasizes what is important to the characters and to the story. While I find that this kind of repetition can be effective at times, I also find it distracting and disorienting when used in excess. This style relates back to the original quote, that a story is “like a river”. It has twists and turns and flows. Using her unique writing style, this is very much what Figiel creates; a story like a river.