Sunday, June 25, 2017

Fiction: A Compelling Narrative

by Editor-in-Chief Mary Bast

"Much in vogue in recent years," said 2016-2017 Fiction Editor U.R. Bowie, "is domestic literary fiction, "which tells true stories of middle-class people in realistic terms.

In this scene from To The Lighthouse, for example, Virginia Woolf artistically paints with words a "downpouring of immense darkness:"
Nothing, it seemed, could survive the flood, the profusion of darkness which, creeping in at keyholes and crevices, stole round window blinds, came into bedrooms, swallowed up here a jug and basin, there a bowl of red and yellow dahlias, there the sharp edges and firm bulk of a chest of drawers. Not only was furniture confounded; there was scarcely anything left of body or mind by which one could say "This is he" or "This is she."  
Notice how Nabokov, in his New Yorker story "Symbols and Signs" (his original title is "Signs and Symbols") alludes to a suicide attempt without once having to rely on the mundane:
The last time the boy had tried to do it, his method had been, in the doctor's words, a masterpiece of inventiveness; he would have succeeded had not an envious fellow-patient thought he was learning to fly and stopped him just in time. What he had really wanted to do was to tear a hole in his world and escape.
And U.R. Bowie's "Sonny and Jeanne," published in Bacopa 2014, shows how to uniquely spin an obituary:
So what's there to say about a man's life? "He was an avid bowler." That's the best they could do in the Greenville News, on the subject of Ivan C. ("Sonny") Gosnell, 57 years of age. Mike told me about the trophies. Said there was one with a bunch of scattered pins and just the ten pin left standing beside the number 299, that being Sonny's highest score and that ten pin being the only thing that kept him from a perfect game. Then imagine one final fling, an old black ball, paint chipped off, three forlorn finger holes never to be filled again, curving slowly down the lane, spinning in with a just-perceptible spin, rolling and rotating slowly on to the last loud crash: KA-WHOOM!

1 comment:

  1. "What he had really wanted to do was to tear a hole in his world and escape." I love this line. It opens to so many possibilities for writing. What might he have found had he succeeded?

    And on to Bowie's magnificent black ball,reminiscent of a man's life journey, "paint chipped off" "curving slowly down the lane". We spin, roll, rotate and end with a "KA-WHOOM!" Brilliant writing.
    Kaye Linden