Monday, August 22, 2005

Bread Loaf: Day Five

We started Sunday with a fantastic lecture by James Wood on "How to Narrate". Looking closely at several texts, including Jane Austen and Henry James, and finally V.S. Naipaul, he talked about the advantages of using “free indirect style”, a kind of close third person narration that really frees the point of view character, rendering that character’s thoughts directly, rather than attributing those thoughts. Instead of “Fantastic, he thought,” the text might merely read “Fantastic!” even though the narrative is otherwise third person. I find this very attractive and may give it some thought as I revise my novel. There is also an opportunity here for narrative irony.

I attended a class on “Editing for Life” with Tom Paine that was quite good. It is stuff I knew, of course, about using charged nouns and verbs and making every word count, but it is always good to be reminded of it, and I’m looking forward to careful editing as soon as I get back to work.

The afternoon reading was by Vikram Chandra—whose work I have to admit I do not care for—and Amy Hempel—whose work I would be a fool not to. She read from her new book, The Dog of the Marriage. It was wonderful.

The reading after dinner was by two fellows, Martha Southgate and G.C. Waldrep, followed by Percival Everett. Everett was wonderful, and brave. He read from some very fresh work, some of it hand-written. I need to read him.

We then had the first big Barn Dance, but I was drinking on the porch when the rains came and forced everyone inside. Too crowded and loud for me!

2 comments:

Danyel said...

the advantages of using “free indirect style”, a kind of close third person narration that really frees the point of view character, rendering that character’s thoughts directly, rather than attributing those thoughts. Instead of “Fantastic, he thought,” the text might merely read “Fantastic!” even though the narrative is otherwise third person.

wow. never heard it articulated quite like this before. something to think about. I'm second year MFA, so have been reading much Naipaul, Hempel, etc, too. Your blog is right up my alley.

Clifford Garstang said...

Danyel, thanks for stopping by. I went to your blog and saw the music meme and freaked--I may give it a try, but I can't remember that far back! But as for "free indirect style," it made a lot more sense listening to James Wood talk about--I didn't do him justice.