Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Multiple Perspectives, I like you

This still isn't a review. And now they're piling up a bit (Clay's Ark, Sacred, Fun Home*, Lexicon) so I should really get on that. Work is still insane though winding down somewhat from the insanity that was last week. So that's nice.
Almost, anyway...
While I was on the subway yesterday I finished up Lexicon. Which was great except now I had no other book to read so I was sort of staring off into space, trying to avoid accidentally making eye contact with anyone, and I thought about how much I liked the multiple narrators in Lexicon. And then I thought about how much I like multiple narrators in most books. Then I started to think about why.

There's going to be multiple sides to every story. When you have one narrator you get one version. Which can be fine. Sometimes one version is all you need. But of course that means you only know what this narrator is telling you. Maybe they aren't an unreliable narrator (but those are also sort of my jam) but they don't know everything. They interpret something in a specific way if that's the only version of events you're seeing, you start to think their word is gold and what they say IS what's going on. They hate someone, then dammit, they must be worth hating cos we keep seeing all the shitty things that antagonist is doing. But then if you start seeing things from the antagonists point of view you realize OH maybe they aren't just a raging douche canoe for the hell of it. Maybe they have their own motivations and reasons and interpretations for what's going on. It doesn't mean the villain still isn't a villain. And it doesn't mean that the hero is a liar trying to make you hate the villain. It just means you have to stop and think about the things that you assumed were right and true.

This doesn't just have to be between heroes and villains. Look at Rowell's Eleanor & Park. That's a love story told from both Eleanor's and Park's perspective. Neither is the protagonist or antagonist and you're not learning some major twist by seeing things from one side versus the other. You're just seeing the same actions and interactions unfold through the eyes of two different people. And it's lovely.

I know there can be problems with the whole multiple perspectives thing. The author has to do a good job making sure that it's clear who is talking. I don't want to spend half a chapter trying to figure out who the hell is narrating now. And the actions, motivations, interpretations have to make sense, not just for one narrator but for all of them. If I'm seeing the same thing happen from two different sides, both sides versions better make an equal amount of sense, at least based on who's talking.

It can also be harder to connect with a character if things keep shifting about. It's certainly easier if you're only seeing one point of view.

But really, the negatives aren't usually enough to turn me away from the style. And besides, who wouldn't want to see some of their favorite books from different points of view. Like Harry Potter and a version from EVERY CHARACTER THERE, PLEASE.

After thinking about this on the train for awhile, I realized I had one more episode of Welcome to Nightvale downloaded on my phone. Because sure, maybe one more reason I like multiple perspectives is I get distracted easily. 

*Alice, look! I got it right on the first try and everything.