the reading, and the unsaid.

It all went well, lots of people who were kind enough to laugh at the right parts. I’m told that I pulled off the Georgia accent, though the one native Georgian who could have confirmed that couldn’t make it.

Someone asked a question that I thought I should repeat here. She wanted to know why I hadn’t been more explicit about a crucial event in the backstory. The two main characters had a very intense relationship five years earlier, over the course of a summer, and then broke up. But the reason for the breakup is never spelled out clearly. You get some of his thoughts on it, you get some of hers, and also her mother’s take on the whole thing. There are also a lot of hints sprinkled here and there. But I never tied it all together, and why not?

This is a good question, one I get a lot and not just about this book. I like a novel in which some things are left for me to figure out on my own. I appreciate it when an author doesn’t bam me over the head with answers to everything. This is something I strive for in my own work, and sometimes, I am very willing to acknowledge, with too much success. Not every reader is ready to invest that much energy in a story. They come away irritated rather than intrigued, the same way that my tendency toward a lot of characters is off putting to some readers.

So here’s my take on this situation: my style is my own, and it won’t work for every reader out there. There are authors I don’t read because of specific stylistic or mechanical idiosycracies that rub me the wrong way. There are authors I adore for the same reasons.

Really what I wanted to say is, I step back from revealing too much in order to give the reader the chance to draw some conclusions on his or her own. Sometimes a reader will draw a conclusion that is — not to put too fine a point on it — not at all what I had in mind. Either because they read something into the hints that I hadn’t intended (which is just fine, by the way), or for some other reason. But this is not me trying to fool or confuse or tease the reader. There’s no sense of being sly or mysterious. I just like leaving some things unsaid.

I haven’t been posting a lot because well, the Mathematician is still in spinal limbo, and I’m trying to write. However. If you have something specific you’d like to ask, or some topic you’d like me to address, please speak up in the comments. That kind of nudge will remind me to take some time to post here.

4 Replies to “the reading, and the unsaid.”

  1. Part of what I like so much about your writing style is that you don’t expressly say everything. That (IMO) makes it more realistic. In daily life, I can’t possibly know what is making everyone around me tick, I have to infer and gather information in order to make sense of someone. I haven’t read TTTT just yet -vacation starting tomorrow- but I am sure that the break up spoken about will become a wild gossip fest in my own mind, and I like it that way.
    -Soup

  2. I’ve read the book, I enjoyed the book, I think it’s interesting that the question was about the breakup when there are other relationships that are very important that the reader must infer information about. I think the breakup is pretty well spelled out, and the book is upbeat, the charaters are not dwelling on negative feelings that are in the past.

  3. I agree with your reasoning on this issue. My bookclub and I hard this discussion this weekend about the secret life of bees, in that Kidd really does beat you over the head with explanations, without letting the reader add their own interpretation.

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