Last week, I talked about a book with two points of view that began well but lost distinction.
This week, I want to talk about two books that do multiple pov and do it outstandingly.
Taking them chronologically, the first is Wilkie Collins’ THE MOONSTONE. It was written in 1868 and, even if you find the plot outlandish or the pace slow (I didn’t — I loved every second of it and was sorry when it was done), you have to admire Collins’ handling of multiple points of view. You have to. No, I’m sorry, you don’t have a choice. Yes, I know it’s a free country, but this is not negotiable.
Each section of the book is told from the point of view of one of the participants in the mystery, telling only what he or she did, saw, knew, thought, or understood during the events related. Since they’re all part of the same event, they talk about one another as well as their personal memories of the same conversations and happenings. Each voice is as distinct as sugar and salt.
The second book is HAINTS, by Clint McCown. Published in 2012, it’s a dark comedy about a small town half-leveled by a tornado. Small town = interlocking stories. Each chapter is from the third-person point of view of a different resident of town, with the narrators of past or future chapters weaving in and out of the current one. This man is trapped in the open by the tornado with this woman, this woman is the daughter of this doctor, this doctor is married to this woman who is the sister of this newspaperman…. By the end of the book, you not only have an interlocking story of the events during and immediately after the tornado, but of the past that haunts the town’s present. And the voices, though having some similarities because the characters all grew up together in the same place, are individual.
Charlie didn’t care for HAINTS as much as I did, because some of the plot points were pretty wild, but this kind of intricate jigsaw — when successfully accomplished — makes me absurdly happy.
Besides, the cover is GORGEOUS!
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write about two people from each one’s point of view, each one misunderstanding who the other really is inside.