On optimism

15 April 2010

Optimists are good. Optimists are nice. You can put optimistic characters through all sorts of trouble.

Last week I was reading All That Follows by Jim Crace, where the point-of-view character is a jazz saxophonist who stays optimistic even though the fire’s gone out of his marriage and one of his best friends from his student days is holding a family hostage in an English suburb. (And maybe even though he has to spend the rest of his life playing jazz. Sorry, jazz.)

Crace has a simple trick for demonstrating Leonard’s optimism and notching up the tension all at the same time: go through an internal monologue where Leonard finds reassuring reasons to tell himself why everything’s going to be all right, just before another character delivers a much more unsettling explanation.

We won’t talk about the ending, though. Oh well. That’s obviously where being an optimistic reader gets you.


5 Responses to “On optimism”

  1. kate m Says:

    Ohh, this sounds stressful. I hate to see characters’ hopes dashed.

    I’ve never read any Jim Crace – even though he used to live literally down the road from me.

  2. Old Kitty Says:

    Oh you tease!!!

    As my mum would always say “smile and the world smiles with you”.

    Or as one geezer said to me once as I was minding my own merry business doing me shopping, “Cheer up luv, it may never happen”.



    Take care

  3. AlexJ Says:

    So what happens at the end? Now I want to know!

  4. I don’t know if I’m an optimist or pessimist. I think I fall somewhere in between. I mistrust Polyanna types, but constant complainers are a bit much too!

  5. @ Alex – not giving that away, what do you take me for 😛

    @ Kate – trouble is, that’s what we have to do all the time!

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