Sunday, February 20, 2011

Every Unhappy Family.

Is unhappy in its own way, we've been told. And every good book, I have learned, is also unique. It's rare to find a writer with a voice you recognize across all their work, but I've noticed lately that every good book has something happening beyond characters, plot, setting, all the basics, that make it stand out. This becomes more pronounced with award-winners or critically-recognized books.

I've mentioned in the past that if you want to win a major literary award, you should observe the mechanical technique of not using quotation marks. Well, I'm reading a recent Man Booker Prize winner that does two unique things. First, the author uses quotation marks, but not all the time. Sometimes we're just told what someone said. It's a bit distracting. The more distracting technique is that we aren't always told when we're in the POV of the main character or when he's speaking. Very annoying. It would be less so if we were in the main character's head at all times, but we're not. Sometimes it's the author's POV, and sometimes it's some other character. A strange thing I've never encountered before. You'll be halfway through a dialogue scene and all you've been given is untagged dialogue or "he said" and finally realize it's your main character. Grrrr...

I cannot commend this technique to your attention, but the book is coming along well enough. It's Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel.

No comments: