Tuesday, November 8, 2011

a remarkable fit of understanding

We've been reading some really cool stuff in my advanced fiction workshop class this semester. My classmates have taste. The excerpts from Lorrie Moore's Swamplandia and Wells Tower's Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned have been my favorites so far, but I think this week's selection - a selection from Victor Lavalle's Big Machine - made me think the most about my own work.

Along with the selection, I read this interview with Lavalle about narrative voice, and found it to be very revealing. Lavalle has a Colson Whitehead vibe to his narration, but with more of an earthy straightforwardness than Whitehead (or at least, more of a willingness to use it). Lavalle's definition of voice as "personality" informs his work a lot, I think, and his anecdote about a writer's work not sounding like the writer him/herself is something I struggle with a lot. My personality is such that people often think they can predict what my work is going to be like, and so I try to throw them curveballs and take them places they don't expect. Thus, I'm probably guilty of the "dry third person omniscient tone" Lavalle talked about, that distance on the page.

I'm trying to remedy that somewhat with the short story I'm working on now, which is my way of saying that I need to get back to work.