Tuesday, 27 September 2011

And they lived unhappily ever after...

Caribou IslandI read Caribou Island by David Vann this week. It was a timely read for me, and it came recommended by my friend, short story writer and critic, Ailsa Cox. Vann's prose is so engaging and penetrable that it's tempting to imagine that it is effortless, but there is clearly an art to his artlessness.
I'm trying to plot my novel at the moment and I'm wondering about endings. Short fictions typically resist happy, neat endings (a huge generalization, but I stand by it). Novels seem to me to be a little different; even novels that resist a happy ending require a degree of neatness, otherwise readers may resent their investment in the story.
Caribou Island does not end happily. I don't think I'm giving anything away when I write this - the opening paragraphs should prepare readers for unhappiness. Even so, the shock of the ending was bigger than I had anticipated. But then, as I reflected on it, it occurred to me that of course the novel had to end like that. Now I need to discover the of course of my novel, and some engaging, penetrable and deceptively effortless prose wouldn't go amiss either. 

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