The Similar Concepts in Wunderkammer and the House of Scorpion
Shelley Jackson’s My Body – A Wunderkammer can be compared to one of my all time favorite books, Nancy Farmer’s The House of The Scorpion, by the sense of intimacy you get from Shelley Jackson and the main character Matteo Alcaran. Although many aspects of the two may be completely different House of The Scorpion was the first book to come to mind when thinking about Shelley Jackson’s style of writing. An overlook of the two next to each other would not really show much of a similarity from first glance, but after reading both the similarities in the two stories would become apparent.
The first real comparison between the two of would be that Shelley Jackson’s My Body – A Wunderkammer is set up in a hypertext format. On the other hand, Nancy Farmer’s The House of the Scorpion, is a novel. It is hard to compare the overall intimacy of the entire book with a hypertext set up with an abundance of short stories, but when looking at the two main characters it is easier to identify the same emotional vibe given off. Shelley Jackson uses the parts of the body to identify with her stories. Each and every body part brings a story of her past experiences that she connects with that part of the body. She connects with her body as reminders of her past. Matteo Alcaran on the other hand is a clone. Matteo is locked off from the outside world in a sense that he lives with a woman named Celia on a large piece of land filled with Poppy fields. In contrast to Shelley Jackson, Matteo has no recollection or ability to remember his original back-story. Matteo is left without any connection to anything except the home he lived in for the majority of his young life and Celia. He does not have the association of anything to his childhood memories such as Shelley Jackson’s: remembrance of her ability to do the most chin ups, the scrutiny she put herself under for her build of her shoulders, or how her fingernails were no comparison in prettiness to the other girls in school.
What I find to be interesting about Nancy Farmer’s The House of The Scorpion is that Matteo Alcaran is a clone of a drug-lord who is one hundred and forty-eight years old. He is the exact same genetically as the drug-lord, El Patron. El Patron eventually has him come live in his mansion and take classes and do other activities. Going out on a long stretch, I’d compare El Patron’s care and activities that he provides to Matteo to be much like El Patron reliving his childhood. El patron’s use of Matteo is in a way a living story of the past. Matteo is much like Shelley Jackson’s body parts that remind her of her past experiences. Matteo is used in the same way more than likely in an indirect way because he is farming organs. Nancy Farmer doesn’t make this comparison of Matteo living out life as El Patron did, but in my mind it would be like thinking about my past experiences in life and watching a clone of myself live out these experiences or stories that were in my memory. This whole scenario would be like a déjà vu moment over and over again.
Comparing the two pieces of literature by readability, the first thing that really is interesting is that they are both very easy and attention grabbing pieces to read. I have never been much of a reader, but it is almost interesting to read Shelley Jackson’s stories because she almost writes them like a diary or journal, which everyone is always interested in reading someone else’s diary. She has this great way of connecting with her body no matter if it is a negative connection or a positive one. The fact that it is a very personal entry or little story draws you in and makes you want to read more about her experiences. I think that it was said well on one of the discussion board posts that, “She went all the way in describing every part from head to toe, using strong and meaningful words, describing the body like I never read before (Rasha Bah DB POST).” Shelley Jackson has this deep connection to her body unlike any that I have ever felt. She brings this thought provoking aroma to your mind. The House of The Scorpion is like Shelley Jackson’s My Body – A Wunderkammer in the fact that you feel a strong connection with the main character. The connection draws you to read more and more. With Matteo Alcaran the strong piece that draws you in is his struggle for his life. He is placed on Earth to live for another man. You almost are routing for him to make it. Shelley Jackson makes you, in a way, feel the same because you want her to get past these hardships she has endured in the past. She makes the stories feel real and you want to sympathize and hope she gets over it all even though it is a past experience.
The biggest contrast of these two stories, which I briefly mentioned, is that Shelley Jackson has all of these experiences to connect her body parts to her past. She has had a life in which she got to experience things that so many people have to go through in their life. She got to go to school and make friends. In her story about her skin she writes, “There was one good thing about the uncomfortable plastic chairs I sat in all through grade school: if I rubbed my arm against the back of the chair on a dry day, I got a funny feeling as if there were a layer of warm felt between my skin and the plastic. If I held my arm the right distance away, every hair stretched straight out toward the plastic (Shelley Jackson).” This goes to show that no matter what it was on her body and no matter how odd, she was able to associate her past with her body parts. The character Matteo Alcaran has no ability to associate his life to anything other than a small house on a large piece of land due to the fact that he was not able to leave the house. I think that this association to an object or body part also reminds us of the blessings bestowed upon us to live our life and experience things freely.
In conclusion I think that the two of these pieces of literature are written in a very fluent way that draws the reader in. The largest contrast of these two is that one is a hypertext and the other is a paper back novel. I think that Robert Hoover said it well when he wrote, “Which would mean of course that the novel, too, as we know it, has come to its end. Not that those announcing its demise are grieving (Robert Coover).” The use of books may be in a time where extinction is near, but a book such as The House of The Scorpion allows me to actually enjoy the imaginative ability I have with a paperback in my hand. Shelley Jackson’s My Body – A Wunderkammer allows me to experience the advance in to hypertext, while also enjoying what she has to say. The two may never be compared again, but both bring a sense of intimacy to the reader that grabs you and brings you to read on and on until you are finished.
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Shelley Jackson’s My Body – A Wunderkammer can be compared to one of my all time favorite books, Nancy Farmer’s The House of The Scorpion, by the sense of intimacy […]