As usual on a Sunday, I have a ton of writing to do. I was hoping to work on my novel tonight, but alas, I have a short story due and had better get that going pronto. By which I mean, end it. It’s begun. I think another four pages or so would do it, about 1K. This is achievable, but only if I let something else go. That’s the novel, and a bit of work-work that I’ll have to finish first thing in the morning.
Last week, we had a visit from program alum Kevin Canty, a writer whose work I haven’t read myself. He read from his new novel, Everything, which he was inspired to write after revisiting Anna Karenina, which is chock-a-bloc with, you know, everything. The novel has five POV characters. Someone asked if one of those characters took precedence, and Canty paraphrased someone else, saying that a reader is like a duckling, following the first character s/he encounters when entering into a book.
This is so true. And so when storytellers mess with our expectations, it can be quite jarring. Take Psycho, for example, whose POV character’s death makes us rethink the story. Or even Tender is the Night, which from my dim recollection of 15 years ago or more, opens on a cruise from the POV of a character who eventually gives way to Dick and Nicole. Thus we see them first from an outsider’s perspective, their veneer of sophistication, before we delve into their private hell. (Coincidentally, my brother just used this same technique in a short story he’s working on, which I read partway into writing this entry.)
Antonya Nelson gave a reading in Tucson last year – or maybe earlier this year? – in which she read from her new novel Bound. The novel tracks through a dog’s POV for a while, a technique that seems to lead us from one character to an otherwise unrelated one. (I think. This is coming from hazy memory. I haven’t read the novel, which just came out.) This makes me think of French scenes, and JR. (Aside: love that this edition has a Warhol cover.) Is Nelson using a sort of extended variant of a French scene? Again, not having read the book, I can’t say.
Anyhoo. Always much to say on POV, but I’m going to deflect other observations until such a time that I don’t have an assload of work to do.