What stands out among all the lovely elements in this series is Tizon’s use of the first and second persons. Come join me on a journey, he says. And if you’ve just joined me, let me fill you in.

In discussions of craft we often talk about writing with a “conversational voice.” But of course there are all sorts of conversations. Sometimes the voice of a writer who tries to be conversational is loud, gossipy, disorganized. Tizon’s is respectful, poised, thoughtful. Friendly and somehow formal. It’s the perfect voice for readers reeling from 9/11.

The series is instructive retrospectively, in its contrasts with today. It’s fascinating to revisit it now, when so much has changed, politically and culturally. Back then, the horrors united the country. Now it’s divided. It also shows what hasn’t changed: heartbreak, desire for revenge. In the end, Tizon’s journey, and his scenes of America, seem poignantly innocent to us, and evoke nostalgia.

Read “Crossing America,” by Alex Tizon

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