RARA-AVIS: Multiple characters

From: Cristoforo ( Cristoforo@mediaone.net)
Date: 21 Jan 2002

Jose wrote:

> Nonetheless, as a reader I have a problem with numerous secondary
> characters. Last week I abandoned a novel on page 200 because it had so
> many I had to keep going back every couple of pages.

A few years ago, I read a hardbacked copy of "Into Thin Air" (hardboiled at times) the true story of two teams of climbers trying to reach the summit of Everest. Besides the leaders of the two expeditions and the 1st person narrator, there are about fifteen characters of similar importance and weight, all introduced in the first thirty pages. It was impossible to keep them all straight except that on the back cover was a group picture of them all. Every time I got lost or confused as to who was who, I would look at the photo to get back to speed again. (After the first hundred pages, this was no longer necessary since they all became quite singular in their own way.) It was a harrowing, fantatstic book, but I'm not sure I would have gotten through it without that picture.


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