THOUGHTS ON FATES AND FURIES, #1: I WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH THE NARRATOR
- •Full disclosure: I finished the book right before Book Club's first post, so I'm going to try not to give anything from the second half away. Also, it's well past midnight/my bed time and so these points will not be the most cohesive.¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- •One of my favorite things about the first half of Fates and Furies is the narrator.
- •In many ways, the voice--often through bracketed prose--fills the role of the chorus in traditional Greek dramas.The chorus's role was to give background or other info that an audience couldn't glean otherwise through the action of the main characters in a play, info that helped an audience follow along. Groff's narrator does this, and then some. At times the brackets are like a nudge-nudge moment with readers, and sometimes readers get more direct opinions and thoughts of the narrator. "He was six feet tall already, fourteen tipping into fifteen at the end of July. [A Leo, which explains him entirely]."
- •Groff's narrator isn't just dark and cunning like a typical Greek chorus; the narrator has wry, dry sense of humor.When Lotto first meets Mathilde while at a party, we read, "He raised his arms. [The fatal look up.] In the doorway, suddenly her." The bracketed sentence seem almost tongue in cheek, as if the narrator is poking fun at the over-done drama of the situation, while at the same time underlying the inevitability and importance of this moment in Lotto's life.
- •The brackets add a depth and dramatization to the novel, so that the classic(al) tropes and themes throughout the novel are further emphasized through the dramatization of the text.
- •The narrator, even without the brackets, really helps blur the lines of the form in the first half of the book, since they emphasize the Dramatic nature of the book—in fact, many times I felt more like an audience member watching a play unfold, than a reader.
- •Looking again at the scene when Lotto and Mathilde meet, Groff writes of Mathilde in the doorway: "Tall, in silhouette, wet hair casting the hall light into a halo, stream of bodies on the stairs behind her. She was looking at him, though he couldn't see her face."👆that reads much more like a script, like stage notes, than it does a typical novel.
- •But the blurred form isn't a bad or distracting thing; instead of distancing me from the book, which easily could have happened, Groff managed to still suck me into Lotto's world. Usually, when reading a great novel, I get lost in it, and feel a part of it; I temporarily forget my immediate reality...
- •But while reading Fates and Furies I felt simultaneously aware that I was watching a first act unfold, as watching a play, and yet completely absorbed in Lotto's world.And the complexity of the narration helps bring us into the world with the brackets also by making us as feel privy to a secret, or at least to the narrator's inside scoop—those nudge-nudge moments help us sort of bond with the narrator, and I think this results in a deeper connection and interest to the plot and characters themselves, than had this been typical straight up third-person perspective.