Follow-up on Mohammad J. Alam

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at
Tue Feb 5 19:12:55 MST 2002

Today I had my creative writing class. The students all write their stories and
submit them for group critique. Today 3 stories were parly read aloud- one a
satire of work in a Supermarket. Another a woman seeing a rival from her high
school. These two were written by individuals in their late-20's or early-30's.
The other story was about a general from a Latin American army who had decided
he would "break the cycle". The tale was of quiet plotting in the background,
followed by a failed coup attempt.

 In his own self-analysis, he stated that he wrote the story to show that the
people are the ones who change history, and that the coup would inevitably fail.
It wasn't brilliant. It was very good. It was written by an 18 year old who
speaks extremely humbly. I considered that seeing that just appear in my class-
quite unexpectedly at that- to be a great ray of hope. I talked to him later,
and found he doesn't think much of Hugo Chávez, which I definitely consider
having political gaffes (his story wasn't based on him).

He had to report on a short story as well, picking a Jimenez piece that
immediately had the Woody Guthrie deportee in my head. He talked of the pain of
crossing the Rio Grande over and over just to work. His report made kids in Nike
sweatshirts squirm. I had to buy him a coffee and chat after class.

 I have all the faith in the world that he and his type will grow. If there were
only more people as idealistic as this, perhaps the "apologists" like me would
have less to apologise to him and his friends about.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Jim Farmelant" <farmelantj at>

> I think that we should keep in mind that he is only eighteen years old.
> Such political behavior is not uncommon for people his age.  Kids that
> age
> will often go through a number of different organizations until they
> find one that they are comfortable with.  It often take people years
> before they are able to develop a stable, coherent political outlook.
> Jim F.

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