Friday, February 25, 2005

This morning I finished reading

Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin, which was every bit as good as I'd hoped. It is a spectacularly fine novel! Her writing is really, really good--at first this was almost a problem, the language is so witty and wise-cracky and bitter that it distracts you from the more complex emotional stuff that's being built up, but by about 100 pages in I was completely immersed. Eva is such a mix of the impossible and crotchety and annoying and real.... A great, great unreliable narrator novel. Everybody should read it. It's great.

I have this longstanding desire--really I must make this happen, it's silly I haven't done it already--to teach a course that's combined lit-writing called "The First Person" that uses short passages of all the great first-person stuff over the years (things like Montaigne and Bacon and Defoe and Richardson and Hazlitt and Dickens as well as 20th-century things like Ford Madox Ford and Nabokov and various other favorites--and I'd have to squeeze in some Ken Bruen for sure...). Mostly the students would be reading lots of excerpts and writing every week (pastiches, experiments with different first-person voices, etc. and trying to develop things like their own version of a first-person private investigator narrator or a memoir-narrator or a personal essay voice) but then I would have them choose one of two or three great recent novels to read in full & write about the style. And one would be Kazuo Ishiguro's The Unconsoled which as far as I'm concerned is one of the great great novels of the 20th century. And one would be this.

1 comment:

  1. Jenny, I'd take that course. You could cross-check your reading list with the one in Part V of the bibliography of Booth's The Rhetoric of Fiction ("Gallery of Unreliable Narrators and Reflectors"). Been meaning to post that list to my blog for the longest time ...