A writer-friend of mine has been thinking lately about the possibility of having multiple viewpoint characters in a novel she is working on. Since she’s been wondering what that might look like, I sent her a copy of Fish House Secrets which is told from two points of view, as a trade for her book of poetry, The Bridge that Carries the Road.
Now I want to tell her about the book I started reading at the CNIB Recording studio this week because it has five point of view characters. (I’m reading aloud only the sections of the story that are Amelia’s. A male narrator will be reading the male characters’ sections.)
Ragged Company tells the story – stories – of four homeless people and one “Square John” whose lives intersect in a movie theatre one bitter cold winter day. It’s one of the most beautiful, sad, beautifully written, funny, wise, and moving books I’ve read in a long time – and I’ve been reading some good ones.
One of the other reasons I liked the book so much, I think, is because its author Richard Wagamese accomplished something I’ve been struggling with in the writing of my current novel-in-progress. Each one of his characters has his or her own distinct and wonderfully authentic voice. Read any page in isolation and there’s no mistaking whose version of events you are reading.
I’ve got the voice for one of my pov characters. The other two, after numerous drafts, seem still to be eluding me. Inspired by Richard Wagamese, though, I intend to love those two characters more, as he clearly loved each of is. And maybe if I can do that – instead of wishing as I sometimes do that they had not chosen me to tell their stories – maybe then I will be better able hear them speak.
In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for multiple-viewpoint novels you have loved – for kids or for adults – I hope you’ll let me know.