A Vibrator Named Chocolate Thunder

As I was looking for a way to teach the concept of literary allusion, I flipped past a story by Sherman Alexie titled, “Do Not Go Gentle”.

Yay! Obvious allusion to Dylan Thomas’ poem, right?

The story is about a Native American couple who become acquainted with and battle against “Mr. Grief” while their infant son is teetering on the brink of death. It contains paragraphs like this:

One day when my wife was crying, I swear I saw Mr. Grief hiding behind her eyes. So I yelled and screamed at her and called her all of the bad names. But I got really close to her to yell, because it’s more effective to yell when you’re closer to your enemy, and I smelled her true scent. I knew it was only my wife inside my wife, because she smelled of tenderness, and Mr. Grief smells like a porcupine rotting dead on the side of the road.

Brilliant, right? I read the first two pages of the three-page story, and finding it to my liking (and there only being fifteen minutes until school began), I took the anthology down to the copy room and ran off a copy for every student.

I figured I’d finish reading it with them.

Fortunately, I took time to read it as I stood by the copy machine, waiting for the final pages to emerge.

Because what I didn’t realize is that where I stopped reading? That’s where the narrator ventures into a toy store that turns out to be a… well, er, an adult toy store, shall we say.

Yeah.

Good ol’ Sherman. He never pulls any punches.

It ends with a vibrator named “Chocolate Thunder” being hung as a sort of magical talisman/mobile plaything over the infant’s crib.

I still maintain that it’s a brilliant story–but I couldn’t bring myself to teach the entire thing to teen boys. We studied the Dylan Thomas poem, and I gave them just the first two pages of Alexie’s story. They loved it and wanted to hear the rest. I told them they’d have to find a Sherman Alexie anthology and read it on their own–which none of them, except maybe the ones who are mature enough to handle it, will do.

(All two of them.)

I then made some (seriously quick!!!) lesson modifications that did not include those sort of allusions.  Thank you, Billy Joel, and “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. (And no, they’d never heard of Billy Joel, either.)

Speaking of fire, I did NOT start a fire making spaghetti tonight, in spite of my oven’s demonic intentions–didn’t even burn the bread sticks. If you don’t have a good recipe for these, you should. Ask, and it shall be given; they’re super fast and easy:

photo (19)


2 responses to “A Vibrator Named Chocolate Thunder

  • janefjensen

    Ok, I’d like the breadstick recipe.

  • Jayne crook

    I’d like the recipe. I have one, but I like fast and easy better. Btw, you’ve totally inspired me to start making dinner for my family. Other than cereal or sandwiches. My kids and husband thank you. Unless I make them “try” their vegetables. Then they wish I’d go back to lazy.

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