Well this morning I finished rewriting the ending to the book. It wasn’t a major rewrite, but it was certainly something I needed to do. I’m very pleased with it. Now comes the annoying part where I go back to the beginning and mess around with all the words and stuff.
Also finished reading Jeff Zentner’s The Serpent King today! Figured I better read it since it won the Morris award. It’s really, really, really good. A very assured debut. Won me right off the bat by doing the sensible thing w/ its three points of view and just writing them all in the third person. I mean sheesh, life is hard enough without trying to write three first-person protagonists.
But more than that, it was very slow and quiet, without being dull. The novel was great at milking the natural drama inherent in these peoples’ lives. I’ve definitely heard Jeff, and others, try to pitch the book, and I’ve always been like, “Err, but what’s it about?” And the truth is it’s just a low-concept book. It’s about people. There is a tinge of the Southern Gothic to it, which was honestly not my favorite part of the book (the snake-handling and the alcoholic abusive father felt too dramatic for this book), but they too work fine.
Great examples of the novel’s deftness: the female protagonist, Lydia, has the least amount of drama in her life; she’s got a healthy, well-off family, and she’s headed for college. But she befriends, online, this pair of New York City ‘it’ girls who she’s gonna room with in New York, and you constantly expect something to go wrong. Maybe they’ll turn out to be mean. Or maybe she won’t get into NYU. But nothing ever does! Instead, it’s just…well these girls are probably perfectly fine, but they’re still not her friends yet. And even if they do become her friends, they’ll never be the same as her friends from home. They just are what they are. They’re a source of tension in the book, and the book is wise enough to know that tension doesn’t necessarily need to erupt into actual drama.