Thursday, February 17, 2005

Misused Retrospect

Few things are as irritating as losing a blog entry into cyberspace. The book I was writing about on the lost entry is. Nearly every important scene was relayed in flashback. I could understand the flashbacks from the narrator's childhood. Though they came at odd places (the novel was similar to a printout of the character's thought patterns), there was a significant reason they were flashbacks and not the first chapters of the book. The narrator was viewing her childhood through the eyes of adulthood.

The other flashbacks seemed to placed only to trick the reader into reading further. As soon as the narrative began to get interesting (and trust me, the overwhelming detail made many parts uninteresting), the author would skip ahead to the next day or week, only revealing what had happened several pages later. And in a sketchy, unsatisfying way.

I've read a lot of novels (I've read at least one book by all of the authors on the sidebar, and dozens by several). I've even read novels with lots of unnecessary details. But this novel made Ivanhoe seem like a pleasure read. Even the climax was skipped. The two main characters meet at a restaurant, the guy asks one insightful question, and the narrative moves ahead to months later. I felt like throwing the book across the room, but restrained myself for Amazon saleability. I only finished the book (which took twice as long as usual) because I needed to review it.

I'm not going to reveal the author (though they're not listed to the right), though if you get Church Libraries you might see my review in several months. And it may be more unbiased now that I've got this rant over with. Twice. But this novel makes me question some writing advice: never take the reader where he wants to go. I don't remember which writing book I read that in, but it was a recognized expert. I can see how that works with multiple POVs, but not with one. Maybe you could squeeze it in once or twice, but frequent usage would frustrate the reader.

I'm still adding to my links, so if you know of a good one, feel free to let me know. And if I've linked to your blog or website, I'd appreciate if you could do the same for mine. Thanks!

3 comments:

Brenda Coulter said...

Katie, this is my first visit to your blog. Thanks so much for linking to me; I'll toss up a reciprocal link on my own blog.

And now I'll go back to reading. ;-)

Katie Hart said...

Thanks!

Kelli Standish said...

Katie,
I'm wondering what you do when you hit a situation like this. I mean, do you follow the Bambi "if ya can't say nothin nice don't say nothin at all" principle? Or how do you tell the truth... ie, that you HATED the book, without burning bridges in the writing community?

I'd be really interested in your thoughts:)

Kelli Standish

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