My Name is Aram chronicles Saroyan childhood
Classic short story collection livens prose, contemplates human struggle
William Saroyan's classic novel, My Name is Aram focuses on a young Armenian boy struggling with the everyday pains and joys of childhood. Through a collection of short stories, the novel unites simplicity with controversial issues.
??I was nine and the world was full of every imaginable kind of magnificence, and life was still a delightful and mysterious dream?? So begins My Name is Aram, a short book by William Saroyan which captures much that comes with childhood: its pains, confusion, joys, thrills, and, above all, a sense of wonder at the surrounding world.
The book chronicles the adventures and experiences of Aram, an outgoing boy born to an Armenian family in Fresno, CA who struggles to reconcile American life with traditions of the Old Country. With an eager disposition and an inclination to take action, Aram and his story captures many of his experiences, all of which add to his personal development.
First published in 1937, this slim work by Saroyan is essentially a collection of his own childhood memories of life in the Central Valley. Each of the 14 chapters introduces a new situation and could stand alone as a short story.
Despite the lack of a clear order, this unusual structure adds to the overall effect of the book. The novel allows a reader to feel as if they are listening to Aram recount his story in a conversation, mentioning each memory as they come to mind.
The chapters documents the boy's life, from Aram?s secret horse ride with his cousin at 4 A.M. to an unwilling participation in a church choir and a fishing trip to Mendota in the company of a millionaire.
These stories have no apparent connection to each other and do not flow chronologically. (Aram?s age ranges from about eight to 14 years old.) However, each serves as an insight into Aram, illuminating both his character and his world.
Along with the relaxed structure, Saroyan?s decidedly informal writing style gives Aram?s tale a sense of spontaneity and sincerity. His simple but well-written prose brings Aram to life and makes his reactions both appropriate and believable.
Though Saroyan chooses commonplace settings for his stories, the scope of his purpose extends beyond merely recounting a child?s activities. Rather, he seeks to say something about childhood and humanity as a whole; he aims, and succeeds, to describe the wonder of life itself from a child?s perspective.
In addition, Saroyan delicately touches upon more adult conflicts. Amongst Aram?s adventures, Saroyan subtly comments on issues concerning poverty, religion, race, class, government, and education. Aram?s na´ve recounts of such circumstances gives the book a slightly ironic tone and adds sophistication to an otherwise children?s book.
My Name is Aram complements one of Saroyan?s more well-known works, The Human Comedy. The common themes of growing up and finding one?s individual identity unite the works and illuminate Saroyan?s purpose in writing.
Overall, My Name is Aram is an enjoyable book. Its structure makes the novel an ideal selection for either a few minutes of escape for a single story or a couple of hours? entertainment. The simple language provides easy reading while the deeper implications of ideas presented provide stimulus for contemplation.
I recommend this book to adults who long to remember their childhood experiences, children who are still in the midst of them, and anyone in between who enjoys unique perspectives on life.
My Name is Aram is available at any local bookstore for around $12. For purchasing information visit Borders or Amazon online.