Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Slow Regard of Silent Things

In the introduction of his latest book (which can also be found on Goodreads), Patrick Rothfuss notes that The Slow Regard of Silent Things is "a bit of a strange story". He's right.

Most of the time authors are trying to write an entertaining story, and so they choose their words to pull the reader into the story and keep them there. But sometimes the subject an author wants to relate doesn't fit the traditional form of a story. Somehow the elements such as dialogue, three act structure, and character development don't quite fit the spirit of the work. Their intrusion onto the page would pull the reader out of the fiction just as abruptly as a poorly chosen word.

If Pat had managed to write this in the usual style, it would have lessened the story. The character and her surroundings, her history and thoughts, would have lost their depth. Instead he chose to use the tools of poetry. The pages are sprinkled with alliteration and wordplay. Meanings are bent to fit with tone and theme. Proper structure is intentionally broken or ignored for the sake of how it will feel when read.

Pat has said that the book "doesn't do a lot of the things a classic story is supposed to do." He's right. But if I sit quietly I can hear a faint echo of dialogue. I think, maybe, that I can see a shadow of structure in the darkness. I could be wrong, but there may even be a hint of character development. Some stories invite the reader to consider what might be hidden under the surface. With its layers of mysteries and its conventions discarded, this story practically compels it.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things probably isn't the right kind of book for every reader, but I found it to be perfectly suited to its setting and main character: strange and beautiful.

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