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Everyman
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Re: Narrative Structure



vivico1 wrote:
You know, I kind of think I would have liked to have had a first person narrative from one of them, most likely Lindsay.


That's a really interesting thought. I can see how it might have made a much more compelling book.
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LucyintheOC
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Re: Narrative Structure

____
 
The structure was lovely.  Very well done.  At first I thought that he rushed the last part of the book because he was under a dead line, but after a little reflection it seemed that he was mirroring the way events are percieved in real time.  Nice Job.
_____
 
I agree. I enjoyed the structure. I have read other books structured this way (haven't we all) and I like this style of storytelling--although sometimes I have jumped ahead, too, to see how something finishes. But this isn't always the best way to read the book--I agree with others on that, too! I also then go back and start from where I jumped. But the way this book is written , I think, gives a good 360 degree view of what is going on simultaneously at given moments and as life is moving along. Regarding how the book moves at the end, I think this is very realistic also. Many times endings come before we know they are imminent or already upon us.
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LucyintheOC
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Re: Narrative Structure

______
I
 would have liked more Fran and JP chapters.  I felt myself looking forward to those more than others.
________
While Fran made me nuts, so I'm kind of glad there wasn't more of her, I also would have like more JP chapters. I would have also liked more from/about Kim's friends.
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kiakar
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Re: Narrative Structure



lenoreva wrote:
I agree that if there was anyone I would want to hear from in first person, it would be Lindsey.


Oh! yes, she would have been a great first person narrartor. Absolutely!
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kiakar
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Re: Narrative Structure



DSaff wrote:
As others have mentioned, I enjoyed the changing point of view. It seemed that I was reading things happening to different people in real time. I felt like I was watching the events unfold everywhere at the same time. Truly enjoyable.


I agree with you, Dstaff but it would have been more of an emotional novel if it had of been one person narrator.
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kiakar
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Re: Narrative Structure



kiakar wrote:


DSaff wrote:
As others have mentioned, I enjoyed the changing point of view. It seemed that I was reading things happening to different people in real time. I felt like I was watching the events unfold everywhere at the same time. Truly enjoyable.


I agree with you, Dstaff but it would have been more of an emotional novel if it had of been one person narrator.


Sorry, I forgot to add:    This is just my opinion.
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vivico1
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Re: Narrative Structure


kiakar wrote:


kiakar wrote:


DSaff wrote:
As others have mentioned, I enjoyed the changing point of view. It seemed that I was reading things happening to different people in real time. I felt like I was watching the events unfold everywhere at the same time. Truly enjoyable.


I agree with you, Dstaff but it would have been more of an emotional novel if it had of been one person narrator.


Sorry, I forgot to add: This is just my opinion.



Linda, you're such a polite sweetheart. :smileywink: I just take it for granted that anything I say, people know its just my opinion, which is sometimes a strong one,sometimes more general lol. But you came back to make sure DSaff and the rest of us know that it was just your opinion and not meant to say anything about someone else's. You are very polite my pal. Well there was that one time..... hehehe. :smileyvery-happy:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Jennd1
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Re: Narrative Structure

I really liked the way the book was structured. I thought in the beginning it showed the way a typical case might unfold, and as time passed key events showed us the passage of time. I felt like I was there for the whole thing and got to see things from many different perspectives.
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lovemybooks
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Re: Narrative Structure

For the most part, I really liked it. Of course, there were characters I cared more about getting back to than others, but I just don't think this would be the same story at all without this narrative structure.

I love how it showed the far reaching impact, and the deep impact her disappearance had on so many people.
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DSaff
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Re: Narrative Structure



kiakar wrote:


DSaff wrote:
As others have mentioned, I enjoyed the changing point of view. It seemed that I was reading things happening to different people in real time. I felt like I was watching the events unfold everywhere at the same time. Truly enjoyable.


I agree with you, Dstaff but it would have been more of an emotional novel if it had of been one person narrator.


I agree that it would have been more emotional with one person. But I did enjoy the characters telling me what was going on rather than one narrator - at least in this book.  :smileywink:
DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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BookSavage
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Re: Narrative Structure



DSaff wrote:


kiakar wrote:


DSaff wrote:
As others have mentioned, I enjoyed the changing point of view. It seemed that I was reading things happening to different people in real time. I felt like I was watching the events unfold everywhere at the same time. Truly enjoyable.


I agree with you, Dstaff but it would have been more of an emotional novel if it had of been one person narrator.


I agree that it would have been more emotional with one person. But I did enjoy the characters telling me what was going on rather than one narrator - at least in this book.  :smileywink:


I agree about the emotions, and I think the lack of emotion was one of the biggest problems with this book.
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lenoreva
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Re: Narrative Structure

I read so many high concept novels that I halfway expected (hoped) that Kim would have a chapter somewhere telling us what really happened (as this was ambiguous) from beyond the grave (a la Hey Nostrodamus or The Lovely Bones).  She seemed too smart to let some creep into her car. 
But this was not that kind of novel.
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KxBurns
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Re: Narrative Structure



pedsphleb wrote:
I really appreciated how each chapter took on the point-of-view of a different character.  I think it really allowed the reader to get inside each character's head and understand the motivations rather than provide either a truly omniscent narrator (which gets old after a while) or have a shifting first person narrative (which would have been impossible to follow - think Faulkner in Absolom, Absolom).  I think the leaps in time from chapter to chapter helped emphasize the point that time does not stop; it keeps going forward, even in the event of a tragedy, and there is no way to stop the world, find Kim, and then start everything back up again.  I think also the idea that the leaps weren't random also helped emphasize this point - the first time the police call with report of a body, the day the car is found, Lindsay starting school again in the fall, Thanksgiving break for Nina and JP, etc.  We dropped back in on a character when something significant happened to change routine.
 
Just a thought - did anyone make a thread for Lindsay?  Or did I miss it? 


Absolutely -- I think an omniscient narrator would change the book completely.
 
Don't worry, the Lindsay thread is coming on Monday! I am so pleased to see that many of you felt especially connected to Lindsay, of all the characters -- I felt  the same way. I was planning to bring this up when we discuss Kim and Lindsay next week, but since it's a structural issue, it makes sense to bring it up here.
 
What did you think of O'Nan's choice to start the book with a Kim chapter and end with a Lindsay chapter? What do you think he's trying to say by making the sisters structural "bookends," if you will?
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KxBurns
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Re: Narrative Structure



mwinasu wrote:
The structure was lovely.  Very well done.  At first I thought that he rushed the last part of the book because he was under a dead line, but after a little reflection it seemed that he was mirroring the way events are percieved in real time.  Nice Job.


Well put! I couldn't agree more. Each time I flip through the book to reference something, I am surprised that some of the things I'm looking for happen so late in the book -- I think such-and-such a scene was about halfway, but it turns out to be closer to the end. And you're right; the agonizing waiting makes up a huge chunk of time and this is indeed the way it would have felt to a family going though it. And then the resolution unfolds almost in a blur (I don't mean in the writing, but in the emotional sense).
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KxBurns
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Re: Narrative Structure



pheath wrote:


I thought that it worked OK. However I've read other novels where the time structure is not as linear where it is more effective. Say chapter 6 is told from Person A's point of view. Then chapter 7 is told from Person B's point of view with an overlap of timespan where they describe the same activity from a different point of view. Each chapter also has it's unique aspects as well, but I think this gives added depth to a story, and I think it could have really worked in the first half of Songs for the Missing.

That's a really interesting idea. Rashomon style :smileyhappy:
 
Were there specific incidents that you think would have benefitted from a retelling in someone else's point of view?
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KxBurns
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Re: Narrative Structure

The book is entitled Songs for the Missing. How is music featured in the narrative, and to what effect? How does O'Nan use the structure of the book to compose an elegy for Kim? 
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bentley
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Re: Narrative Structure



KxBurns wrote:


pedsphleb wrote:
I really appreciated how each chapter took on the point-of-view of a different character.  I think it really allowed the reader to get inside each character's head and understand the motivations rather than provide either a truly omniscent narrator (which gets old after a while) or have a shifting first person narrative (which would have been impossible to follow - think Faulkner in Absolom, Absolom).  I think the leaps in time from chapter to chapter helped emphasize the point that time does not stop; it keeps going forward, even in the event of a tragedy, and there is no way to stop the world, find Kim, and then start everything back up again.  I think also the idea that the leaps weren't random also helped emphasize this point - the first time the police call with report of a body, the day the car is found, Lindsay starting school again in the fall, Thanksgiving break for Nina and JP, etc.  We dropped back in on a character when something significant happened to change routine.
 
Just a thought - did anyone make a thread for Lindsay?  Or did I miss it? 


Absolutely -- I think an omniscient narrator would change the book completely.
 
Don't worry, the Lindsay thread is coming on Monday! I am so pleased to see that many of you felt especially connected to Lindsay, of all the characters -- I felt  the same way. I was planning to bring this up when we discuss Kim and Lindsay next week, but since it's a structural issue, it makes sense to bring it up here.
 
What did you think of O'Nan's choice to start the book with a Kim chapter and end with a Lindsay chapter? What do you think he's trying to say by making the sisters structural "bookends," if you will?





Kim was the alpha and Lindsay became the omega.
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kiakar
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Re: Narrative Structure





Linda, you're such a polite sweetheart. :smileywink: I just take it for granted that anything I say, people know its just my opinion, which is sometimes a strong one,sometimes more general lol. But you came back to make sure DSaff and the rest of us know that it was just your opinion and not meant to say anything about someone else's. You are very polite my pal. Well there was that one time..... hehehe. :smileyvery-happy:


Refresh my memory with a pm Miss Vivian. Please! With sugar on top.
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Mary1234
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Re: Narrative Structure

I agree... Emotions were missing. At times it just seemed like a news report. What age group was this written for? It seems more like an adolescent structured book. The material is for all ages, but it was just written so laboriously.
 
Mary
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ELee
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Re: Narrative Structure



KxBurns wrote:
How does the shifting point-of-view from one character to another serve the story O'Nan is trying to tell? Did you find this technique effective or unsettling or both? What about his portrayal of the passage of time -- what might be the intended effect of the leaps in time that occur throughout the story?
 
What other narrative devices caught your eye?


In the Questions for the Editor thread, Josh Kendall wrote:

"Someone earlier spoke here about the shifting points of view, and what that affords the reader. To me, it was amazing to see Stewart give this book the pacing of, for lack of a better term, real life, while allowing that pacing to play out "through" each of the characters' reactions and actions, day to day."

I am inclined to agree with his assessment.  I think that the shifting points of view define "real life" very effectively.  There has been a lot of discussion about lack of emotion and intensity in the characters.  For me, the little side-tracks and after-thoughts that these characters share with us are very realistic.  Who is "on" 24/7?  So it not only adds a real life quality, but slows the pacing as well.  One device that I noticed that is very ingenious is O'Nan's references to the distant future, another shift - in time.  The first one is on the first page.

"She [Kim] did not hate the town, as, years later, her sister would tell one lover."

This tells you right away that there is a distant future, her sister is in it, and will have more than one lover-another story altogether.  We are given a peek of an extended time and place, only to be brought back to the present like the release of a stretched rubber band.  This realization serves to anchor us in the characters' "present" and creates that real life quality. 

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