Shadow and Neil Daiman

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

At the moment I’m reading Neil Daiman’s novel American God’s. I also clicked to The Reading Experience and found this by Dan Green on the subject of character. He writes

In my opinion, asking for a “vivid, memorable character” amounts to requesting that a work of fiction provide us with a friend, a “person” with whom we will have what is called “sympathy.” Demanding “psychological plausibility” in fictional characters means the author should give us the opportunity to “gossip about them and cheaply psychoanalyse them.” And in the same way Heti suggests that good writers don’t think about what makes for “memorable characters ” when they’re creating them, it’s likely they don’t think much about what makes a story “engaging” or dialogue “superb” or a sense of time or place “transporting,” either. (Although maybe they do think about good titles and grammatical correctness.) Telling writers they ought to produce such things means nothing.

You should read the entire post for context.

I’m not very far into Daiman’s novel. The central character is Shadow, caught up now with Mr. Wednesday. Slowly I’m learning what Shadow is getting himself into. Shadow has been in prison for a few years. His wife is recently passed, and he’s learned of her affair. She visits him, trailing mud from the grave.


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