"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

P.O.V. (the masterful experiment)

I woke in the middle of the night troubled by the weight of my unsent query letter. Is it specific? Is it succinct? I kicked my way out of bed and settled on the couch with The Sound and the Fury to take my mind off the unsent Memories of Snow. Thus it was that at two in the morning I was trying to get a handle on the confusing dialogue and brilliant but exasperating P.O.V. of the manchild, Benjy. Faulkner's narrative weaves back and forth between decades with no warning. It's no wonder I didn't understand it the first time I tried to read it. But I think I'm finally beginning to appreciate the greatness of this literary masterpiece, the risk of beginning a novel in the P.O.V. of an adult man who is mentally three years of age, and the sheer genius of pulling it off. I'm only now getting the symbolism of Benjy's castration and Caddy's soiled drawers (a symbol of her promiscuity), and the reason behind their brother, Quentin's, obsession with time and eventual suicide.

I was reminded of the recent news out of the state prison in Lucasville, Ohio about a prisoner on death row. His third execution date is set for today. He tried to commit suicide with a drug overdose before the last one, so they had to postpone it until he recovered. I wonder if he broke the hands off his watch and put them in his pocket like Quentin did? He was unconscious for some time and they nursed him back to health so he could be executed properly. He's recovered and they will execute him today by lethal injection. I expect it’s already been done.

One can only take so much Faulker at two in the morning, and I put the paperback, penciled up with dates in the margins to help me follow the shifts in time, aside (it is a tragic story, but at least it is fiction). I leafed through my Eliot Coleman gardening book, The Four Season Harvest. It, too, is wonderfully written with photos to complement the wealth of knowledge this gardener from Maine has accumulated over the years.

Earth is so kind - just tickle her with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest. -Douglas Jerold

I've been tickling the earth in the green house. I dug up a worm here amongst the argula ***envision picture*** and tucked him back under the soil. Please use your imagination as I live in internet no-man's land and couldn't download my pretty photo.

This morning I was gifted with another sign of spring. I heard them first and dashed to the window for a look. A flock of geese were flying overhead, heading north.

Godspeed.

18 comments:

She Writes said...

Isn't it fabulous signs of warmth are in thew air! I was up at 2:30 a.m..... Sigh. Reading Good Omens.

sarahjayne smythe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sarahjayne smythe said...

Let me try this again. :)

POV and shifting timelines are powerful story telling tools. It's amazing what can be done with them by talented writers and storytellers.

And yes, thank goodness for signs of spring.

Travener said...

I should give The Sound and the Fury another try. I read it a long time ago and couldn't make heads or tails of it.

Yvonne said...

Amy,
Yes, fabulous summer is just around the corner. I wonder how many of us ar awake in the middle of the night....

Sarahjane,
Right you are, and Faulker was a master.

Travener,
Yes, you should!! I remember getting about five pages in and giving up, not realizing the pov it was written in. My daughter who is reading it in college is the one who enlightened me, and suddenly it all made sense.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

When I can't sleep I listen to audiobooks, of course then I finally fall asleep without knowing just when I faded out of the story. But I love how it works for me, unless it's a scary one. That happened to me with a Neil Gaiman collection of shorts. Some were light and few were horror stories. That'll wake you right up.

KarenG said...

You woke up in the middle of the night and read Faulkner? Now that's impressive! Good luck with that query!

Nicole Ducleroir said...

I found your blog by way of SarahJayne's and I wanted to say hello! I love literary fiction though I haven't yet read Faulkner. There's so much to learn from the masters!

I look forward to reading more from you!

Yvonne said...

Tricia,
I've never done the audio book thing though I suppose I should since I spend a lot of time in the car. I suppose it'd be like being read to as a child.

Karen,
Thank you! Sometimes the stillness of the night, the dark and quiet helps me think. Thanks for stopping.

Nicole,
Thank you and thanks for following my blog. That is a tremendous vote of confidence, the reaffirmation all writers need. I'm glad you found me!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Being read to like a child is exactly why I use them to help me settle down to sleep. My mind races so much and listening to someone like Gaiman, who really is masterful at reading his work, can put my "busy" thoughts to rest so I can sleep. Otherwise, I prefer to read books--I like words on a page, a book in hand.

Talli Roland said...

I am a big fan of the shifting POV - perhaps too much!

Bring on Spring!

Yvonne said...

Tricia,
I'm going to have to check out Neil Gaiman. I've heard so much about him lately. A book in hand will usually put me to sleep.

Talli,
Hi! Thank you for commenting. Yes, I like the shifting POV too and I have to be careful when writing not to let too many characters share the stage.

Thanks for following!!

Lola Sharp said...

We hit 70 F today! In March! (next week it will probably snow, but still) Sunshine warming my skin makes me happy.

LOVE the Sound and the Fury. I'm so glad you gave it another shot.

Good luck with your query!

(I'm here from SarahJayne's blog)
Lovely blog/post.

~Lola

Jon Paul said...

Good luck with your query. I've never tackled Sound and Fury but I've been meaning too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts; it's good inspiration and I look into getting a used paperback myself.

Also, thanks for stopping by my place and for becoming a follower.

Yvonne said...

Hi Lola,
So nice to meet you. Thanks for coming over from Sarahjayne's. I love your shoes!

Yes! I highly recommend Sound & Fury. I love challenging myself with a book like that. Well worth the effort.

Thanks for your comment and for following.

Yvonne said...

JonPaul,
Thanks so much!! Yes, do pick it up. You won't be sorry. Once I figured out the POV and the flashbacks it all came together. (It doesn't help that two of the characters have the same name!)

Thanks for following my blog.

Nessa said...

What a very interesting night you had.

To me there is something extremely perverse and evil about saving a person's life to execute them at a later date. I can't get my mind around it.

1st Day of Spring!

Yvonne said...

Nessa,
Hi. Thanks for commenting. You know, nobody else mentioned that and I wondered why (or even if) it was skipped over. So appreciate you adding your thoughts.
p.s. I stopped over your place for your 55 but couldn't find it...