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.