Monday, February 26, 2007

House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III

I wish I could have gotten to this novel before the movie got to me, but alas I read it knowing full well the Greek tragedy into which I was headed. Probably the most compelling aspect of the book--that it is both literary and heavily-plotted--was somewhat diminished as a result. All the same, it's quite a good read. It's one of those books though that regular readers probably love more than writers do. The things that bugged me about it--in particular that two thirds of the way through, Dubus moves from a back-and-forth first person to a back-and-forth third and first person point of view--didn't bug all the non-writers I know one bit. I think sometimes that nobody really cares about all the rules we set in place for ourselves.


Brian said...

I think the vast commercial success of The DaVinci Code and other books like it are proof positive that few people outside the writing community care about the rules we set for ourselves. Still, I think it's a good thing to have those rules, just as it's a good thing to not install miniature steering rockets on golf balls--the challenge of doing something great in spite of the obstacles we set for ourselves is part of the reason we write, I believe.

Ayse Papatya Bucak said...

But there's a big difference between a DaVinci Code which is genre commercial fun which makes no pretense toward realism (and therefore has few obligations toward character development or believable plots) and novels like Sand and Fog which are both commercial and literary and meant to be entirely realist --and yet breaks the rule of the continuous dream (as advocated by John Gardner) by suddenly switching point of view three quarters of the way through...and yet is still a high quality and largely successful (in the literary not commercial sense) work.

moonrat said...

Absolutely--the rotating narrator drove me CRAZY! And yet the story was excellent. And no, that didn't seem to bother any non-writers I know.