Posted by: oneyearbook | July 3, 2009

Story time

Yesterday, I finished the first draft of the short story I started on Canada. Yay! It’s been a long time since I’ve written a short that I was excited about. In fact I can count the number of times that’s happened on the fingers of one hand; I’ve never been much of a short story person. This, I think, is slightly problematic – a good way for a would-be literary novelist to build buzz in the industry is by publishing short stories in the lit magazines. But there’s always been a pretty good reason I don’t write many short stories: I don’t read many short stories. I’ve been trying, lately. I’ve read a few and liked ’em and maybe that’s why I’ve been trying to write a few and liking ’em.

Jazz on the streets of Chicago

Jazz on the streets of Chicago

So anyway, as I said on Wednesday, the story was inspired by a jazz show we went to on Tuesday night. The story is called “The Name of Every Song Ever Written by the Mike Cordon Jazz Quintet” and it’s in – wait for it – third-person plural POV.  (We did this, we did that, etc.) This is the POV most recently/famously used in Then We Came to the End, by Joshua Ferris, and before that, in Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides.

Now normally I’d avoid this type of offbeat POV – it can seem like a gimmick if it’s not done right. (Both of the previously mentioned books do it right, though.) But when I went to write this, I was faced with a dilemma: I didn’t want to have just one of the five characters narrate – it would have limited what the narrator knew, and the narrator had to know pretty much everything for the story to work. But if I went with an omniscient narrator, I lost the potential for the sort of slangy, guy-ish voice I wanted the story to have. So when I started, I started with “we” and it just seemed to work.

I’ll be giving it a break for about a week and then ripping into the edits before sending it out on the lit mag circuit.


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