Sunday, August 01, 2010

August 1, 2010
There are some pretty exciting things going on in narrative architecture and here's a great example from a new book, "A Visit from the Goon Squad," by Jennifer Egan:

A punk rock music producer, on his third wife, takes his family to Africa on safari. His precocious 13-year-old daughter, Charlie, is flirting with a group of four Samburu warriors who have come to their encampment to entertain them on drums and singing.

"The warrior smiles at Charlie. He's nineteen, only five years older than she is, and has lived away from his village since he was ten. But he's sung for enough American tourist to recognize that in her world, Charlie is a child. Thirty-five years from now, in 2008, this warrior will be caught in the tribal violence between the Kikuyu and the Luo and will die in a fire. He'll have had four wives and sixty-three grand children by then, one of whom, a boy named Joe, will inherit his lalema: the iron hunting dagger in a leather scabbard now hanging at his side. Joe will go to college at Columbia and study engineering, becoming an expert in visual robotic technology that detects the slightest hint of irregular movement (the legacy of a childhood spent scanning the grass for lions). He'll marry an American named Lulu and remain in new York, where he'll invent a scanning device that becomes standard issue for crowd security. He and Lulu will buy a loft in Tribeca, where his grandfathers' hunting dagger will be displayed inside a cube of Plexiglas, directly under a skylight."

Back to story. This is the kind of Fast Forward Narrative that is invigorating story telling. Another guy who is expanding the genre is David Mitchell. More on him later.

"Shakespeare wrote Moby-Dick, using Melville as a Ouija board."
—Ray Bradbury

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