Effective Narration?

I’m not sure if someone has already posted something similar, but forgive me if someone has…

We’ve all noticed how Danielewski changes his writing styles with every narration and chapter. Even characters who are in the same part of the books seem different. For example, he somehow dips into the minds of Xanther, Astair, and Anwar and gives them distinctive thought processes. Xanther’s thoughts are all frazzled while her mother’s are much more put together. Then he switches writing styles completely by using broken English to narrate Jingjing. Then he changes again to use a different tone when discussing the serious Ozgur, making it sound like a detective story. And so on…

It makes it seem like every section could have been written by a completely different author and then somehow pieced together. Every part of the book could be altered to create a completely different story. He has a very impressive writing style. But, do you guys find this effective? Or does it cause a distraction for you? Does it make it difficult to go from chapter to chapter? For me, it does. I found myself getting really into a character, and then their segment would end and I would have to start a new one and try and switch my mind set and the way I was reading the story in order to understand it. It is kind of exhausting, but I am still enjoying the read.

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2 responses to “Effective Narration?”

  1. kelseybourque says :

    I agree with you that although it can be exhausting it is still a good read! At first when I began reading, I will admit I was extremely frustrated with all the varying narrative techniques and styles from chapter to chapter. But I have to say once I started to read the book more interactively (looking things up online, asking friends who spoke various languages, discussing confusing parts in class) I found The Familiar to be some enigmatic puzzle provoking me to solve it. Some classmates and I have even discussed a strategy where you read certain sections consecutively in order to piece them together more fluidly.

    The Familiar was definitely different than anything I have ever read (in regards to conventional literary styles) in that it challenges preconceived ideas of what a typical novel is like. I found that at the end I was eager to find out how all these interconnected plot details and abstract motifs will play out throughout the volume series.

  2. smaraslian1 says :

    I agree with you both. I also think that because of the emphasis on Xanther, Astair, and Anwar chapters, if that is what they are, it is difficult to invest ourselves into the other characters. The Xanther storyline is more in-depth, easier to follow, and seems to have the “normal” structure of a story that has a build-up, climax, and resolution. I think that is why I was more interested in those chapters over the others, because they were the ones I understood the best.

    As for the change of narrative style, it is almost like Danielewski is nine different authors in one. His ability to change the voice of the narrator so drastically is both impressive and overwhelming, because we as the readers have to also change the way that we read. The more I read, however, the easier it became to accommodate this type of writing style.

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