ANTI-CHRONOLOGY, SEZ THE BOOK, IS WHERE IT'S AT
September 16, 2009
This from my latest, infrequent blog:
I do believe that if you listen, over how ever long it takes, a book will tell you what it wants to be. In this case, Where the Lake Becomes the River was determined to be non-chronological. It took the shape it wanted to take.
The book starts in a "present" wherein the heroine, Parrish, is at the beginning of the summer before she goes off to college. It drops back in time to her birth and early years in a foreign land, follows through the years as she grows up, and rejoins her at the end of the summer where it began. However, the final chapter drops back in time to when the heroine's parents are newly married, on a trip from Georgia to Mississippi, and follows the story of Walt and Grace, and how the family came to be. Parrish's story ends at the finish of the novel's preceding chapter...she does not appear in the final chapter at all. But the final chapter answers all the questions Parrish has struggled to answer through the book.
This non-sequence is unsettling to some folks. They would like the last chapter to go first, as a prologue. They are comfortable with a straight chronological story line. But the book does not want a prologue. It has ideas of its own. It is a stubborn, willful narrative. It wants this chapter at the very end.
"I'm about immortality," the book finally explains. "Don't try to pin me to a timeline. Time is not straight--it's circular and all at once, and yes, a hero who has already died early in the novel can be left vibrant and young when we last see him, when he's just beginning his life." This is what immortality is, right? The Spirits's refusal to conform to Time? This is what the book would like to leave us with. So we defer to the will and wisdom of the book and its Muse. Anti-chronology it is.
All the best, Kate