Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Recent reading

A week or two ago, I finally read An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. Although the math emphasis in it might have turned me off in the past, my own math & science-obsessed son has made me much more open to all things mathematical, and sympathetic in any case to brainy boys like Colin, the protagonist of this book. Although I did find it highly improbable, mathematically, that anyone could have even met 19 girls named Katherine between the ages of 7 and 18, much less gone out with that many of them, a lot of things in this book resonated with me, and a lot of things in it made me think. In fact, I think my husband would even enjoy it if I could get him to read it--he doesn't read much fiction and YA would be particularly unlikely for him, but I already shared a bunch from this book with him, accurately guessing that he would relate to things like Colin's long-standing desire to have a "Eureka!" moment like Archimedes. Loved the anagrammatic poem in the book dedication, too!

One thing that struck me in the book was the narrative voice. It's third person, not first, and while it's limited third in that it sticks with Colin's perspective instead of jumping into other character's heads, it's also kind of omniscient since it knows more about Colin than he knows himself. It's like--limited omniscient or something. I don't recall seeing that POV used much in recent books, but I rather liked it. I suspect something similar was probably used in some books I read growing up, but in a more invisible way, not as a means to comment on the character. I might experiment with a similar POV for one of my YA manuscripts. It's in first person right now and the voice has never worked for me, but my limited third person voice tends to be about the same as first with the pronouns switched, and that hasn't solved the problem. But a narrator who's slightly more distant from Dan, while still sticking with his POV, might work quite well.

I finished Going Nowhere Faster a few days ago. Still liked it. Though my recent reading has once again thrown me for a loop in regards to my own writing. My YA manuscript mentioned above is mainly about a guy struggling with what to do after high school. He finally decides, against his parents' wishes, not to apply for college (at that time, anyway), and goes in a different direction. It's a huge decision to make since his parents have placed a lot of expectations on him. When I first started writing it, (cough cough) seven years ago, dealing with college at all was a stretch for YA. He's a senior, and that seemed like the upper limit of YA, and there pretty much weren't YA books about people who were already out of high school. But now...I've read two YA books in the last two weeks about guys after high school, drifting around. And they both gave the impression that the college decision is not such a big deal. It's something to consider, but not the high-stakes decision it was for my character. So now my story seems misguided... I mean, it becomes a big deal for him because it's a huge deal to his parents, but my book is supposed to be humor, not some big family rebellion story, and it seems like my ending isn't as counter-intuitive as I'd thought it might be. Ah well.

No comments: