Wednesday, July 2, 2008

An appropriate title

When was the last time you cried while watching a movie? We women do this often. I cried while watching the end of "Bella." Adam didn't, of course.

But this morning, as I nibbled on breakfast, I continued my reading of "Cry, the Beloved Country."

When was the last time you cried while reading a book? I did, this morning.

Now, this is tricky. A movie pulls all the heart strings. It is a first hand, auditory and visual account. You could almost step into the movie, past the lip of your TV screen.

How does an author master this skill? He must get you close to the characters, into their faces and into their feelings. He can't do this with his own plain description, really. Description gets you into scene. He does it with dialogue. Paton is a master of dialogue. It was the passage in which the old man, Kumalo, goes to see the father (Jarvis) of the man Kumalo's son has murdered. The intense pain of the old man, his humiliation and anxiety -- all are expressed through the eyes of Jarvis as he studies him, and in their brief words. Description is there, but it's from Jarvis, describing a man whose face is twisted with pain that Jarvis does not yet comprehend, because he doesn't yet know who this old man is.

I've been told that modern fiction that sells must be written in 3rd person limited narration. No one writes in 3rd person omniscient narration anymore. I'm sure glad Paton didn't think that, or the nuances of this book, and all its varied characters, would be impossible. Jarvis is not the main character. But for a portion of the book, we are given a glimpse into his life, his thoughts, his development.

Aren't you tired of books in which you only get to know one character's mind, and everyone else is flat?

I'm wandering. But I will note that the book's title was appropriate for me, this morning.

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