The Tragedy Paper


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At the airport, he runs into the energetic Vanessa, and they strike a sweet and unlikely friendship. First and foremost, the summary provided by the publisher is misleading. Tim wants to be unnoticed for his albino traits, specifically; he desperately wants friends. Vanessa never outright states she would never be with Tim because of her social status. In fact, Tim is quite friendly with the other students, and they reciprocate. Their extremely close friendship is more of a secret from Patrick rather than the school. I love how Tim is portrayed.

We sympathize with him just like any other protagonist — we want what he wants, we fear what he fears.

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

There were moments of insecurity, just like any other teenager would have, about his appearance. That was fantastic. The tense moments between Patrick and Tim had me on edge. You never knew if Patrick would end up saying or doing something to Vanessa after conversations with Tim, or if he would attack Tim at any moment. He was cautious, but brave. My least favorite character was Duncan. I could have done without his narrative.

Duncan, third person perspective, was dull and underdeveloped. The treasures the previous owner, Tim Macbeth, leaves behind for Duncan is a note and a stack of CDs. Those CDs play the recordings of Tim's story for Duncan as the "meat of your Tragedy Paper," which is the Irving School's senior English paper to be handed in at the end of the school year.

We Sat Down: The Tragedy Paper - M's review

Would it be, you know, like Shakespeare's Macbeth, in which Macbeth kills Duncan? Or would Tim Macbeth share the same tragic flaw with Macbeth, and Duncan the receiving end of that flaw like King Duncan? Or what? Of course, I was expecting the use of these two names to have some significance.

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I have been taught in Literature class that a text alludes to something like this, it is saying something implicitly, and you should find what it infers. But it looks like this book falls flat in that department, because as far as I know, the only function of this allusion is only to tell the reader: Hey!


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This book is a tragedy because its two main characters are named after the two in Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth! Right now, in my head, I can even see my beloved Lit teacher hold up her index finger in a warning manner, and hear her say her favorite disapproval: "Nonono. Some say that it's "deep" and "profound," but I honestly don't see how that can be. It's not like I suck that much at reading between the lines and critical thinking; how about it's just meh?

And this makes me wonder why it has to be written this way. Not only does it bother me that the book doesn't just simply tell Tim's story--which already is the focus, if not the entire meat, of this story--it has to have Duncan as a medium why bother? If there'd been some believable and close connection between them for the recordings to have their natural effects, I would've believed it and appreciated it more.

The ending, for instance, felt too contrived in the way that it is steered into a tragedy pattern, which I understand since I get it, the point is that this book is a tragedy; but I still didn't like it that much. And the effects Tim's story has on Duncan are to me a little too unbelievable. I'd love for it to have more substance, and if the switching between two points of view is going to be this unbalanced and the connection this strained, how about no switching at all?

I'd be happy to read Tim's story alone as the whole book without Duncan having a voice in part of the narration. That's just me. For the most part, I enjoyed Tim's story and wanted to see how it was tragic and how it would end, but once I did, I felt greatly underwhelmed. It has good potentials but it's just not my cup of tea.

Jan 23, Christina A Reader of Fictions rated it liked it Shelves: yabc-reviews , finishedreviewcopy. LaBan's The Tragedy Paper is contemplative and academic, sure to appeal to readers looking for a meatier, slower-paced read. It's a strange sort of book, though one that certainly has some good company. Though I didn't exactly fly through The Tragedy Paper or become caught up in the characters, I really enjoyed reading it, curious to find out what had happened during the previous year at the Irving School.


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There's a whole subset of young adult fiction about boarding schools. Something about them LaBan's The Tragedy Paper is contemplative and academic, sure to appeal to readers looking for a meatier, slower-paced read. Something about them calls to the imagination, I guess: the freedom or how elite they seem, perhaps. The Irving School has an illustrious history, complex traditions, and the requisite quirky professor needed to help guide the main character to enlightenment in the style of Dead Poets' Society. The Irving School holds more appeal for me than many of the boarding school settings I've read that don't have magic , from the archway to the custom of departing seniors leaving treasure behind for the student next to receive their dorm room.

Duncan, ostensibly the main character of the piece, really only serves as a frame story, which is rather daring. We really actually learn very little about Duncan throughout The Tragedy Paper, since he spends most of his time either listening to Tim's story or thinking about Tim's story. While ordinarily, I might find this framing device frustrating and unnecessary, I like it here because the way that Duncan becomes caught up in Tim's tale the same way I become entangled in a wonderful novel.

I thought it was a wonderful sort of metaphor for the process of reading, becoming caught up in the journey of someone else and growing as a result of it, though you have actually been a passive observer. Tim Macbeth, like all tragic heroes, suffers from a fatal flaw: being too uncomfortable with himself as a result of his albinism. All his life, Tim has been stared at, feared, or pitied because he was born without the pigmentation most people have.

He has never been particularly close to anyone outside of his family and resists connection with anyone new, sure that they will only ever see him as an albino, not as a deeper person. Of course, the person most obsessed with his albinism is Tim himself. From the beginning, it's clear that something awful happened during Tim's one semester the second semester of his senior year at Irving School.

There's a girl, of course, beautiful and perfect and maybe even interested in him, but, unfortunately, she also has a boyfriend, the most popular guy in school. There were some echoes of Looking for Alaska in this, I think. The mystery of the harrowing event at the end of the year kept me rapt, but was a bit of a letdown when I finally got there, mostly because of the allusion to a literary work I didn't much care for in the first place.

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The Tragedy Paper will appear to a certain niche of reader, those who prefer high concept to action. At no point did I feel bored and LaBan sustained my curiosity about the mystery all the way through. LaBan's debut is impressive, and I will likely be reading more of her work in the future. Jan 15, Lisarenea rated it it was ok Shelves: The fact that I managed to trudge my way through to the end of this novel is more a testament to my misguided faith in the rave reviews this book received than the book itself.

Something like that little train going up the hill, I just continued to assure myself that things would get better because so many readers gave it 5 stars!

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That means it must get better, right? Sadly, no. So, here is my review and yes, this review contains spoilers. The The fact that I managed to trudge my way through to the end of this novel is more a testament to my misguided faith in the rave reviews this book received than the book itself. The terrible tragedy that we are waiting for is… well… not much of a tragedy and the part our main character plays in making this awful thing happen is pretty much nonexistent. The book description compared this to Looking for Alaska and 13 Reasons Why. Oh yeah, and it is about teens and is a book.

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban

I assume the comparisons are drawn, in part, because the story attempts to build suspense toward a dreaded event that we know is coming. But, it is just not anywhere close to being in the same league.

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Frankly, comparing it to either borders on false advertisement. The best thing about this book is the concept of the Tragedy Paper assignment.

That was actually a great idea for a novel, just not this one.

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