Re: RARA-AVIS: Unreliable narrator

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 11 Nov 2005

At 09:23 AM 11/11/2005 -0500, you wrote:
>Hi, Kerry,
>I wish it didn't have to be one or the other, but cause and effect and logic
>are hard to cheat, so few writers can make surprise endings that work in
>ways and have fully developed characters at the same time.

But cause and effect and logic have little to do with characters, whose humanity must surely account for their emotions, their value systems, their ambitions and their reactions. People are consecutively and concurrently but seldom consistently simplistic and/or complex. And the thing about storytelling is that the writer seldom has to limit herself to just one. We mix them in together, see what happens.

The surprise ending has gone out of fashion to a large degree, but I still like Roald Dahl's "Lamb to the Slaughter" a noir short story that I think fits the definition and reveals much about its characters. True, short stories tend to a narrow or singular focus, but I don't think Dahl's characters were in any way stunted in that yarn. In fact, they suggest that there's more to the characters than we might first have supposed.

I'm currently about midway in Jason Starr's Twisted City. A chapter or so back I did not like the protagonist. He did not seem credible to me, making bad decisions that he knew were bad decisions, and I knew he knew they were bad decisions because he explained to me why they were bad decisions and why he shouldn't make them, but he did. Man, he's been pissing me off. There's something else going on in italics that could serve to explain this, but I'm not quite buying that yet either. But it struck me that the guy is a bit sexually obsessive. In fact the book began with him in the act of a pick-up. On the other hand, he's just refused a proposition from a junkie-hooker, though he does seem to find her exciting and repulsive at the same time. The book could go either way at this point, and that's my point. Jason could pull it all together yet, and surprise me, and I'm really hoping he does.

He's done it before.


------------------------------------------------------ Literary events Calendar (South Ont.) The evil men do lives after them

------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor --------------------~--> Get fast access to your favorite Yahoo! Groups. Make Yahoo! your home page

RARA-AVIS home page:
  Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 11 Nov 2005 EST