So, OK, yeah. Short Story Month was a bust. (Round here, anyway; not as a whole.) Personally, I seem to find it hard to ever find time to blog, what with everything else on my plate. Like... you know... for starters, having to hit refresh on my email and facebook so often, and all this bourbon to drink. But also, the semester ended, and with all this free time, I found myself wanting to sink into some novels and so just didn't read many stories. I read about half of Keith Lee Morris's new collection, and it reminded me of this story that he read here in town a year or so ago, which I wanted to track down but was unable. In the meantime, what I did track down was his first novel, The Greyhound God, which I just finished today.
One of the interesting aspects of the novel is it is written primarily from the protag's, Luke's, POV, with two short exceptions -- once in the middle of the middle of the book, and then again for the final chapter -- where it switches to that of Jenny, Luke's wife. What's interesting is not just this shift in POV, but that it happens so little. (About 22 pages in the middle, and then 21 pages at the end, out of a total of 314 pages. So... what's that? About 15%?)
Interesting though that is, and as much as it could be used to talk about POV advantages, what especially struck me about it was what Morris does with voice. Throughout, Luke narrates in his often unsure of himself, circular speech pattern. The second sentence of the book:
Sometimes during all my travels, and working in various places in different town and states pretty much all over America, I've come across people that are I don't know exactly what you'd call them, more sophisticated maybe, and they're usually dressed nice, and usually a couple, like a man and a wife, and I'm just like that -- curious about people and where they're from -- and they'll at some point get around to asking about me, the guy's wife mostly.
One of the places this book shines is really in Luke's voice; Morris seems to know how to pepper in just enough of this kind of forward and then back-pedaling and then forward again speech to really help flesh out Luke, but never so much that it gets annoying, like over-relied on "dialect" can.
That said, like POV, voice isn't really what I want to talk about either. Not directly anyway. One of the most enjoyable moments, for me, was in the final pages, when it the POV has shifted to Jenny and she quotes's Luke:
"It's kind of quite a bit of money," Luke said. "A what would you call it -- a nest egg."
I don't know what I am getting at exactly except to say, it can be the small moments in novels that are the most enjoyable, no? That simple echoing of Luke's voice, from first person narration to dialogue via someone else's narration, really made me smile. It worked. It reminded me of that quote from Almost Famous, which I'm going to drop the last line or two because then it becomes about "what you leave out" instead of just "small moments" but the truth is still there:
It's not what you put into it. It's what you leave out. Listen to Marvin Gaye, a song like "What's Happening, Brother," there's a single "woo!" at the end of the second verse … that's what you remember. It's the little things, the silly things, it's only one of them and it makes the song.