The Fiction Format of Flitting From One Character to Another

There are two kinds of novels! Good ones and bad ones? Well, yes. But the novels I’m talking about this week are those that flit from character to character rather than mostly focus on one protagonist — as do books such as Jane Eyre and Crime and Punishment.

The advantages of the flit approach of course include getting to know, in-depth, a number of main characters rather than perhaps one or two protagonists per book. Readers get a wider, more panoramic view of humanity — and become curious about how much of a connection the various characters will have with each other before the novel ends. Also, it can be impressive to see the way an author juggles various fictional people and plot lines.

Disadvantages include the potential of not getting as absorbed with the lives of multiple characters as one might with a single compelling protagonist. And when flit-fiction readers do get absorbed, a character might disappear for several or quite a few chapters — requiring repeated efforts to become interested in totally different cast members.

I’m currently reading Louis de Bernieres’ Corelli’s Mandolin — which jumps from character to character, circles back to each one, and then jumps again. We get to know a soldier devastated by war, a doctor, his daughter, the daughter’s Greek fiance, an Italian officer who falls in love with the daughter, a dictator, and others. Takes a while to get used to, and to get interested, in those various people, but we eventually do in this wonderfully written, harrowing, funny novel.

Other novels that move from character to character (with certain people disappearing for many pages or chapters) include George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer, Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride, Terry McMillan’s Waiting to Exhale, Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Glass’s Three Junes, William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, and James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, to name a few.

What are some of your favorite novels that move from character to character? (Either books I named or didn’t name.) Your thoughts on the pros and cons of focusing on multiple characters vs. following the doings of mostly one protagonist?

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My 2017 literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to this weekly blog, I write the award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest weekly piece is here.

75 thoughts on “The Fiction Format of Flitting From One Character to Another

  1. I read the first couple of lines and tensed slightly (which was less than desirable due to an ache that’s already in my shoulder, so thanks for that one). I was expecting that writing like this would be frowned upon, but, thanks to you, it’s rather relieving to know that it’s not.

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  2. Hi Dave,

    I’m sorry that I’m so late to the party this week. I recently finished reading Ian McKewan’s terrific “Atonement” which is written from three very different points of view. One of the protagonists is a writer which made me wonder if you’ve ever written a blog about fictional writers? (Writers who aren’t real, as opposed to people who write things that aren’t real). Readers and writers obviously have a passion for language, and I’m always fascinated when that crosses over to characters.

    I know what you mean when you say ‘flit’ seems to be a trivial term, but alliteration is always adorable 🙂 And my next example – “A Song of Ice and Fire” – really does flit. From place to place and character to character. It can be hard to keep it all straight, but Martin does it really well. By the time you get to the end of a chapter, you’re sad to see that person go, but then you realise the next chapter is another great character and story line, so you can’t wait to get into it!

    I’ve just started reading Hardy’s “Far from the Madding Crowd” which is flitting between both Gabriel and Bathsheba. So far so good 🙂

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  3. The third-person omniscient narrator is the best way of ‘flitting’ about among the interior thoughts and personal perspectives of several characters, in any way and for any length of time deemed appropriate and useful to the author. After all, the author is most omniscient of all, in context. But with such great power comes great responsibility. Generally speaking, the author must take industrious care to individualize characters, by altering diction and syntax, habits of mind and emotional processes, or else risk making a book that manages apparent variety into multi-sourced monotony. But there are other means and ways…

    At what I believe is the extreme of this ‘flitting’ business lies the peculiar yet compelling American novel “Sheppard Lee, Written by Himself” by Robert Montgomery Bird (1836).

    From its introductory notes, in the NYRB reissue:
    Sheppard Lee is an antebellum novel like no other: a psychological picaresque in which the narrator survives the death of his body only to possess a succession of corpses as a spirit. Moving up and down the social and economic ladder in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Virginia, Sheppard Lee embodies, among other identities, a gouty brewer, a miserly moneylender, and a slave. Equal parts comedy of manners, satire of sentimentality, and critique of antebellum political culture, Sheppard Lee also offers a vivid portrait of early American life.
    — Justine Murison, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

    An unjustly forgotten masterpiece, Sheppard Lee inspired Poe’s tales of metempsychosis, ‘The Gold Bug,’ and the juiciest parts of Melville’s Israel Potter. It also gave Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom his name. This novel of lost bodies and wandering spirits, with slavery’s transformations of persons into things as background, introduces that ‘other’ American Renaissance, one of surreal disguises and hidden taints—which depended not on fiction but on history for its most gothic plots.
    — Colin Dayan, Vanderbilt University

    A gentleman farmer who cannot trouble himself to farm dies in the business of treasure-hunting, but his disembodied spirit, rather than shuffling off to the grave, insinuates itself into the fresh corpse of a sportsman fortuitously expired nearby, while taking on large portions of the host’s personality, yet retaining something of its own. This reanimation is the first of several, and there are in each transformation various themes and character types if not prevalent in 1830’s America per se, subjects of popular imagination: among them, the Quaker, whose implacable insistence on generosity gets him killed by an ingrate, a miser who, if I remember right, speculates his way into poverty, a slave whose life of ease and irresponsibility is ruined by a slave rebellion he sets unwittingly into motion.

    Since the narrator Lee is always somewhat present yet mingled with the residue of each departed personality whenever he enters into another reanimation, he does seem to learn something as he goes along.

    But for modern readers, the pleasures of following him through his transformations might prove too small in the face of the overall upending of conventional wisdom that pervades the novel– which of course, is a rhetorical stance of dubious value, in that the actual values at play among his contemporaries resemble his upendings more than the wisdom he pokes his authorial stick into. Most troubling, Bird would have his readers consider the notion that slaves, having no responsibilities, even to the feeding of themselves, are, despite appearances, happier than most free men.

    Still, having a narrator, in the first person, take on a succession of identities must rank “Sheppard Lee” first among the fruits of the flitterers of literature, and thus pertinent to our week’s theme.

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    • “Sheppard Lee, Written by Himself” sounds as fascinating as can be — and, yes, a first-person narrator with a succession of identities is quite a hybrid that speaks to the theme of this week’s column from both angles.

      Reminds me a bit of Voldemort in the “Harry Potter” series; that evil guy has to put himself in Professor Quirrell’s body in the first book, goes through various contortions to regain some health in his own body in subsequent books, and even appears in the past in the form of his original identity of Tom Riddle.

      The omniscient narrator in any book can definitely get the job done when the author is talented enough to give each character individuality and a different “voice.”

      Very impressive comment, jhNY!

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      • The Voldemort comparison seems apt.

        Then there’s V. Wolf’s Orlando…in which the chief character, over time, is both woman and man, I think in that order, while remaining in the same, yet appropriately transformed body. A sort of flitting around without going anywhere…

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        • Yes! “Orlando” is a very good example!

          And now I’m remembering “The Mirror,” Marlys Millhiser’s time-travel novel in which a grandmother and granddaughter switch bodies and experiences. Spooky story – really a horror book.

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  4. Howdy, Dave!

    — What are some of your favorite novels that move from character to character? —

    As you know — and the Shadow knows — 1949 Nobel laureate William Faulkner frequently employed this approach in his novels, with my own favorite among them being “The Sound and the Fury.” (I cannot recall a single, solitary thing about “As I Lay Dying,” and I have not read “Absalom, Absalom!”)

    Among many other highly accomplished novelists, 1905 Nobel laureate Henryk Sienkiewicz often took this tack, too, not only in “Quo Vadis?” but also in “The Trilogy”: “With Fire and Sword,” “The Deluge” and “Fire in the Steppe.”

    And, of course, thriller tiller Dan Brown did likewise in “The Da Vinci Code.”

    — Your thoughts on the pros and cons of focusing on multiple characters vs. following the doings of mostly one protagonist? —

    Because insight is dependent upon the angle of vision, I believe this choice should turn on the effect — or effects — an author/auteur is attempting to achieve in his or her work: In one famous example, drawn from the world of cinema, Akira Kurosawa needed a multifocal approach to tell the story in the brilliant “Rashomon”; in another famous example, drawn from the world of short fiction, Edgar Allan Poe needed a unifocal approach to tell the story in the also-brilliant “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Either Kurosawa or Poe could have decided to go the other way, but I cannot imagine the resultant work in each case would be comparable to the classic so many love today.

    (Speaking of classics, I am compelled by circumstance to note Dr. Seuss was instrumental in popularizing the buzzword at the heart of the gerund in your blog post’s alliterative hed this week through his involvement with the advertising campaign that launched almost nine decades ago and featured the memorable tagline, “Quick, Henry, the Flit!”)

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

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    • VERY good points, J.J.! Some stories are indeed “made for” being told from a multiple character perspective, while others are “made for” the solo perspective. You offered two superb examples.

      Despite once reading a biography of Dr. Seuss, I had forgotten about that “Flit” ad campaign he worked on. Perhaps it was buried in my subconscious somewhere. Reminds me of how various famous book writers (unsurprisingly) had various non-book-writing jobs before going the authorial route:

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dave-astor/authors-nonliterary-jobs_b_1667909.html

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      • — Reminds me of how various famous book writers (unsurprisingly) had various non-book-writing jobs before going the authorial route —

        I remember that blog post! Because of the Facebook issue at The Huffy Post, I believe I was unable to comment on it at the time, but, of course, the first three folks who came to mind — then and now — due to their comparatively unusual occupations were all poets: The Great Stephen Dunn, like Dr. Seuss an erstwhile adperson in New York, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2001 for his “Different Hours”; Wallace Stevens, an executive at an insurance company in Connecticut, who won the Pulitzer in 1955 for his “Collected Poems”; and William Carlos Williams, a medical doctor in New Jersey, who won the Pulitzer in 1963 for his “Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems.”

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        • HP did have MAJOR commenting issues. 😦

          The three poets you named indeed worked in rather unpoetic “day jobs.” (Though I suppose there can be some versifying in advertising…)

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          • Ole Bill Faulkner, possibly while still a Falkner, reported being a coal shoveller at a power plant, who laid his shovel down unobserved, and, putting a plank over a wheel barrow, made himself a writing desk, on top of which, on shift, he wrote “As I Lay Dying.”

            Later, he was employed in the Oxford MI post office, until he grew sick of being “at the beck and call of every son of a bitch with three cents for a stamp.”

            While these jobs are not poetic, the last phrase in quotes does (roughly) scan.

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      • At my grandmother’s house Flit was the Kleenex or Pampers of bug spray, a generic term derived out of a brand– perhaps if blame for such appropriation must be placed, it will be at the feet of the great doctor.

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  5. Dave, I tried to reply to your comment to jhNY, but after weeks of not having problems with WordPress, it wouldn’t let me post, so I’ll try again.

    I seem to be out of my reading gap, at least for now. I FINALLY read your new book, and it definitely was fascinating to me. I certainly have many authors and novels to read mentioned in your book, although I have to get through the books I already own, some of which are fortunately in my library. I was able to sign up for your newsletter and got your bonus chapters, but somehow I had two confirmation emails. The strange thing was that each asked me to prove “I am not a robot,” which I’ve always found funny, but I’ve never seen one (or two) like these. There were small squares of photos of streets with cars and you had to click the ones that had vehicles in them. I was doing so when Bill walked up behind me and asked me if I had started to look for a car again, and I had to say, no, I have to prove to Dave that I’m not a robot! 🙂

    This has been so enjoyable for me, thanks Dave! I’ve learned so much from you and all of the other commenters here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kat Lib, sorry you had posting problems again after that welcome stretch without them.

      Very glad you found my literary-trivia book interesting; thanks for letting me know that, and for taking the time to read the book!!!

      That online system for getting the extra chapters was set up by a Web person hired by the publishing company I worked with. I would have been clueless trying to do that myself. 🙂 I’ve downloaded the extra chapters myself a few times as a test, and it does get tricky — with the two confirmation emails, checking-marking the “I am not a robot” box, and other quirks. (I laughed at reading your car experience, which did not happen to me.) It would probably be easier if I printed out the 10 chapters, folded them into a paper airplane, and tossed them out the window to the recipients in Pennsylvania and elsewhere… 🙂

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      • Ha, Dave! It was actually an interesting test that made me know I haven’t lost my mind completely! 🙂
        It was much harder than the silly letters and numbers tests that I’ve usually seen.

        I must say this, as a lover of trivia and coincidences, that I was immediately hooked by your book. I don’t believe in things happen for a reason or in soulmates or someone is pulling strings to make things happen. One of my personal favorites though was that my boyfriend at the University of Texas at Austin and I discovered early on that we were born the exact same day and same year; however I was born at 11 in the morning and he was born at 11 at night. He was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Texas; I was born in Texas and grew up in Pennsylvania. Which if nothing else, I could take advantage of by being the older one by 12 hours! 🙂

        Sorry if I keep over-sharing things in my personal life, but I just feel so comfortable posting things I wouldn’t anywhere else.

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        • Wow, Kat Lib — several numerical coincidences with your University of Texas at Austin boyfriend! Interestingly told, and a funny conclusion!

          I guess my coincidence of all coincidences is that both my daughters were born Sept. 30, and between 11 p.m. and midnight that day (albeit 18 years apart). Given that my town’s school cut-off date is Oct. 1, if each daughter had been born an hour later there would have been two more years of daycare to pay!

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        • Hi Kat Lib,

          I love your personal stories 🙂 A few days into a new job, one of my colleagues said something about her first boss being interviewed on a current affairs program (not for anything good!) and I said the same thing happened to my first boss. Turns out our first jobs were in different states for different branches of the same company. One day I was talking about my grandparents and the suburb they lived in (not even in the same state where I was working) and my colleague said her grandparents lived there too. I said, well they don’t actually live in that city, but a suburb of the greater area – yep, hers too. Turns out they lived on the same street! After all that, it seems trivial to mention that our birthdays are only a couple of day apart!

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  6. Dave Happy Fourth of July!

    This one is so easy that I can name a novel I did not read and be sure of my comment. I would have to say the sisterhood of the traveling pants 🙂 one of the horrors of being married is having to endured that movie, the book would be too much to ask.

    Okay maybe I should mention something I read. How does Aldous Huxley’s brave New World sounds? As I recall, the hero of the story changes from Bernard Marx to John the Savage. Perhaps this is more the plot thing than multiple protagonists, the one thing I’m sure is that no one had to split a laundry bill.

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    • Happy July 4th to you, too, Jack! Great comment, with nice elements of humor!

      I’ve certainly heard of “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” but never read it. Seems to fit this topic to a T (“Traveling”). Yes, sometimes we know books through our spouses or other family members, rather than by actually reading the books. 🙂

      It has been many years since I’ve read “Brave New World,” but the way you describe it seems right.

      For no particular reason, reading your comment made me think of the novel “Girl in Hyacinth Blue,” which goes back in time again and again to depict various owners of a Vermeer painting — until the first owner is reached centuries earlier. So, naturally, the story is told via various characters.

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  7. I’m quite fond of the flitting from one character to another format. Simply because I love getting a different perspective on the same story. Rick Riordan did this with his Olympus series, and though I sometimes got a bit confused when the narrator changed, I kind of found it refreshing.

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    • Thank you, Alexia! I see your point — getting a different perspective on the same story can be wonderful, and worth the occasional confusion. 🙂 As I mentioned to another commenter, I tend to slightly prefer novels that focus mostly on one or two characters, but I also love a number of multi-character ones.

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  8. I seem to be (in that it could somehow be something I’m doing wrong) unable to proceed past the virtual pushbar labeled ‘subscribe’ on the DaveAstorWrites webpage, in my attempt to receive the ten more mini-chapters offered in the back pages of your fascinating “Fascinating Facts…”

    Although the page allows me to write in my name and email address, I press said pushbar with my cursor, and it registers nothing…perhaps I have found a problem that needs addressing.

    At any rate, I’d like to receive the additional chapters, and as you possess my email address, would you please send the mini-chapters to me when you have time?

    Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just sent the chapters in an email attachment, jhNY! Let me know if you didn’t receive them.

      I also tested the page a few minutes ago, and it worked for me, so I’m not sure what’s going on. 😦 But at least you now (hopefully) have the chapters!

      Like

      • Chapters received! Thanks!

        I own a Dell laptop, sporting a Windows 7 operating system, and drove to the site via Firefox– perhaps there is some sort of compatibility issue– perhaps it is the fault of the nut behind the wheel!

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        • Great that you received the chapters!

          Who knows with computer stuff? I have a Mac laptop that’s only eight months old, and it occasionally plays tricks on me. (Though mostly works fine.)

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            • I will alert the appropriate party! She will be pleased you have begun, in hopes you will be pleased when you have finished….

              I like to think of DP as an update of the romance novel– very different in some ways, mostly setting, mores, dialog– but still….from the blasted heath in the countryside to the being blasted in a bar in NO is not so far a leap in spirit– just in time and place.

              Also, be on the lookout for Sheila!

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              • If the book is even in the neighborhood of how good “Grail Nights” is, I will be pleased indeed!

                Nice, intriguing description in your second paragraph. 🙂

                “Also, be on the lookout for Sheila!” — I love it when a character appears in more than one of an author’s books!

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    • Thank you, Yeah, Another Blogger!

      I think I also have a (slight) preference for novels that focus mostly on one character or a small number of characters.

      And, from reading your excellent blog, I know you’re plenty smart enough to keep track of many characters. (I realize you were joking.) But, yes, it can be difficult when the narrative shifts from character to character!

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  9. Hi Dave, I was just getting ready to write a post about Kingsolver’s “The Poisonwood Bible,” but I see that Shallow Reflections beat me to it. 🙂 I agree with everything you and she had to say about this remarkable novel, and especially in her ability to have such distinctive voices for the mother and daughters that, as you both said. you didn’t really need to look at the headings of who was narrating each chapter. Her “Prodigal Summer” was also very well done in the same way. PatD, I also enjoyed “The Girl on the Train,” by Paula Hawkins, which I mentioned in my response to last week’s column.

    I often like novels that are told in first person, where you only get the perspective of the narrator, something I think is very well-suited for crime/suspense novels. I just finished one last night, “In a Dark, Dark Wood” by Ruth Ware. I think I mentioned last week that I had just received it through B&N with a gift card, and as I started reading it, it seemed very familiar to me, so I thought if I’d read it, it would’ve been from the library. Much to my chagrin, I just saw a copy of it on one of my bottom shelves, and from its position, I must have bought it sometime since I moved in here a year ago. Oh well, I did enjoy reading it, both times, apparently, but I didn’t remember the actual plot or the solution to the mystery, so it was as though it was the first time I’d done so. 🙂

    Then there are the novels which span generations, in the case of Anne Tyler’s “A Spool of Blue Thread,” which is about four generations of the Whitshank family in Baltimore. It was wonderfully written, and one of my favorite lines is that, “Maybe it was just further proof that the Whitshanks were not remarkable in any way whatsoever.” It flits among the various family members through the years, past and present (not in chronological order), and I highly recommend it.

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    • Thank you, Kat Lib! Barbara Kingsolver is definitely one of those authors who’s expert at giving a different “voice” to different characters — whether in “The Poisonwood Bible,” “Prodigal Summer,” “The Lacuna,” “Flight Behavior,” etc.

      First-person novels can indeed be great — including classics (such as “Jane Eyre”) or popular fiction (such as Sue Grafton’s Alphabet Mysteries).

      Yes, novels that span generations almost by necessity have to eventually move on to other characters (even if there’s a long-lived person or two who spans generations). Steinbeck’s “East of Eden,” Isabel Allende’s “The House of the Spirits,” Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” Jeffrey Eugenides’ “Middlesex,” and Fannie Flagg’s “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” are just a few examples.

      I was impressed with the two Anne Tyler novels I’ve read (“Ladder of Years” and “The Accidental Tourist”), and will keep “A Spool of Blue Thread” in mind!

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      • In one of those weird coincidences, I was talking to my friend in Durham last night when out of the blue she asked me if I’d read any books by Ruth Ware (she wasn’t aware of the story I told here). She was reading “The Woman in Cabin 10,” which is on my wish list for my next gift card. So anyway, I now know who to send my extra copy of “In a Dark, Dark Wood”!

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    • Kat Lib, I wasn’t on last week’s site very much. (My main non-work related reading consisted of the news — I’m seriously going to have to stop doing that soon — and posting a couple of healthcare tirades on Facebook). I just read your posts from last week. I really enjoyed “The Girl on the Train”. It pulled me in right from the start and kept me turning the pages. As for “The Poisonwood Bible”, I have seen so many references to that book in various discussion threads here. I’m now putting that on my “to-read” list 🙂

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  10. Corelli’s Mandolin has been on my ‘to read’ list for a long time, so I’m glad to know you are enjoying it. Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible comes to mind in which each chapter was written with the voice of a different daughter. It was confusing to me at first but as their distinctive perspectives became stronger I knew immediately which daughter was ‘speaking.’ I’m going to think about this more when reading a novel, Dave, something I plan to do a lot of in the next few months.

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    • Thank you, Shallow Reflections! “Corelli’s Mandolin” is definitely worth a read. War and romance all wrapped into one, and the war parts depict war as sickeningly as it deserves.

      “The Poisonwood Bible” is a GREAT example of a book told from various character perspectives. As you said, Barbara Kingsolver made the four daughters so distinctive that readers could recognize each “voice” without seeing a name. One of the best novels of the past 25 years, I think. (And it really gives things like colonialism and evangelicalism a good slam.)

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  11. I’m remembering “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen had character flitting. Dave,I do not give you permission to eat your weight in hot dogs for the 4th of July,leave that to Joey Chestnut in Coney Island!😷

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    • You’re right, Michele — the excellent “Freedom” does bounce from character to character: the estranged wife and husband, their children, the indie rocker, etc.!

      LOL! Maybe I’ll have a veggie hot dog or two. 🙂 There’s no hope of out-eating Joey Chestnut. Will he swallow 1,776 pieces of something one July 4th?

      Thank you!

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      • So, Dave, Joey wins again. While not presently averse to eating the rare hot dog here and there, I do have a distaste for someone eating that many of them at one time, or any other food for that matter.

        I am curious about “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen, which I tried to read and not set it aside like most novels I don’t initially care for. But his novel was so difficult for me to like even after a few chapters, that I just threw it in the trash. Not to cast aspersions on anyone else’s like or love of a particular art, whether novels, non-fictions, plays, poems, songs, etc., as I know we all have different tastes, which is actually a wonderful thing. Just think how boring it would be to have everyone agree with everything you like or don’t. That’s one thing that makes us all unique, for whatever reason

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        • Those eating contests ARE weird, Kat Lib, and have to be unhealthy for the participants. What did Joey Chestnut eat — 72 hot dogs? Yikes!

          I liked “Freedom” a lot, despite it having a certain authorial tone (of male superiority? of an “I’m such a smart guy/great novelist” vibe?) that was off-putting at times. Plus it was hard to like many of the characters. But Jonathan Franzen eventually won me over with all the personal, social, political, and “this is the way American is these days” stuff he managed to coherently mix together.

          Yes, having different literary likes and dislikes makes things interesting!

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          • Dave, I’ve been reading a little bit about Franzen, and I’m not sure what it is about him that made me not want to like his books. Which is pretty unfair, but I was hoping reading one of his most famous books would disabuse me of that thought. Perhaps it was his kerfuffle with Oprah, his feuds with women authors like Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner (though I’ve not read any of either of their novels, except Picoult’s “Her Sister’s Keeper,” which ironically is one of the other few books I’ve ever thrown out, because I hated the ending so much), his calling Edith Wharton as “not very pretty,” etc. But I think all of these things led me to believe that he does consider men as superior, especially when it comes to literature and seems to assign any book written by women as “chick lit,” not of course to be confused with “flit lit”. 🙂

            I’m not sure what the difference is between literature and “chick lit” and how one makes the differentiation between the two. I suppose that from childhood on, I was much more interested in reading books that had at least one strong female presence in it than other classics that didn’t. I think one reason I was drawn into mystery/detective/crime novels so exclusively was that I was invested into novels that had something to solve, rather than the genders of the protagonists. I read The Hardy Boys, perhaps not as much, but many of their books as well as Nancy Drew. Just take a look at the best-selling author ever, Agatha Christie, who had: a Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot,; an older lady in a small village, Miss Marple; Parker Pyne; Tommy and Tuppence; and standalones. I also loved male writers, like G.K. Chesterton, who had Father Brown as his main protagonist, and Sir Conan Doyle with Sherlock Holmes, who seemed averse to write much about women, other than his “the woman” Irene Adler in “A Scandal on Bohemia.” The same is true with science fiction, when gender doesn’t usually seem to matter so much.

            This is a roundabout way of saying that I revere women writers as much as I do male writers, both have a lot offer to us readers.

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            • Hi, Kat Lib! I’m away at the moment, with spotty wifi, but will try to answer quickly. 🙂

              You certainly gave plenty of excellent reasons to not be totally enamored with Jonathan Franzen. Plus some critics described “Freedom” as a “Great American Novel” when it came out, and terrific women writers are rarely given that courtesy. Heck, “The Poisonwood Bible,” Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch,” and several other women-written novels of the past 20 or so years deserve that designation.

              “Chick lit” definitely seems like a dismissive term for supposedly “lighter” novels by women when “trivial” novels by men don’t seem to get dissed like that.

              I’m happy to say that, like you, I read MANY novels by women. 🙂

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  12. Hi Dave — “The Girl on the Train” is done with character flitting (I didn’t know there was a term for that). I’ve heard the movie was horrible, but I thought the book was pretty good. So, that’s my pedestrian contribution for the moment 🙂 Here’s hoping you and your family have a wonderful Fourth of July, Dave!

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    • Thank you, Pat! I made up “flit fiction” for this post; not sure how much I like the term (it seems to trivialize things a bit) but it sort of fits. 🙂

      I appreciate the mention of “The Girl on the Train” — a novel I should read one of these days!

      A happy Fourth of July to you and yours as well!

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    • Congratulations on your thousand followers! I’m sorry to hear that struggled to get into “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” as I think I was in love from page 1. If not from the first page, then definitely after first meeting the daughter 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for the congratulations, Susan!

        I struggled a bit with “Corelli’s Mandolin” (the American edition I read left out the word “Captain” 🙂 ) in the early pages as the novel moved from character to character, but then I really got into the book — and absolutely loved it. The daughter IS a fantastic character — as is her doctor father, the captain himself, the gay soldier, and others. The writing is exquisite, too. Many poignant moments, the absolute horrors of war, the humor… I did find it a bit unbelievable that the captain saw the daughter again as early as 1946 but never spoke to her, thinking she was married because she was holding the baby left on her doorstep. Sad that their reunion didn’t happen until both were near old age.

        But what a book! Thanks so much for recommending it!

        Like

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