sarah

The Law of Dreams: A Novel

The Law of Dreams - Peter Behrens I liked the plot, but I wish the editor had scratched out every single spot where the prose abruptly transitioned from third person to second person. Even after the first few chapters, when I figured out that these lines were the interior monologue of Fergus, the main character, I still hated them. Mostly because they don't always make sense and certainly because they add nothing to the story. For example:She didn't move when he climbed in beside her but lay facing the wall, with her back to him, her little shoulders, frail white neck.The last candle was blown out. Soon he could hear the long, rolling breaths of the people asleep.Longing burns down fear, consumes hesitation, ignores danger. You would die for a passion, easy -- for a scented, gluey cunt -- but you want something more from a girl, and can't name what it is.(page 270)Although you won't notice it until the second sentence, the third paragraph switched from third-person narrative to some sort of second-person philosophical musing. Suddenly, instead of telling us what is going on or what people are thinking, the text seems to be a direct quotation of what Fergus is telling himself at that point. There is no break in the type -- no space, no change of font -- to indicate that this switch has happened. It's like Behrens is allowing Fergus to hijack the prose and tell the reader what to think. And, not being a wild Irish boy in the 19th Century, I rarely agreed.This is probably mostly a matter of personal taste, but nine times out of ten I had to read these jarring second-person outbursts two or three times before I understood what was going on. They don't make much sense, are rarely specific, and don't help the novel in any way. If Behrens wanted to communicate that Fergus wanted more than sex from Molly, he might have found some way to communicate that through the main story, or even just had Fergus come out and say so. Or, if he was that desperate to show us what Fergus was thinking, just framed these paragraphs with, "Fergus thought to himself." There were plenty of these stupid outbursts -- enough to ruin the novel for me.