Over on the other side of the forum I posted an idea about a TV series based on the idea of speaking for the dead. That thread got me thinking about stories that are about uncovering people's secret past and perhaps the best one I've read is Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose.
For some reason Angle of Repose seems to me to have a great deal in common with Marcao's speaking in Speaker for the Dead. The stories are in many ways mystery stories, but in other ways they are much more than these. In your typical mystery, the key driver for solving the mystery is intellectual curiosity (at least from the point of view of the reader and the teller). It's a puzzle to be solved. But in Angle of Repose (and Marcao's speaking) solving the mystery of peoples lives isn't driven so much by intellectual curiosity as it is a need to understand the lives and relationships of those who are still living. The people in the books are most interested in making sense of their own lives and not just solving a puzzle or catch a criminal.
I just finished reading Wilkie Collins "The Moonstone" which is credited as being the first mystery novel. Even though the story involves some interesting characters with interesting secrets, its not a story that ever made me empathize with the characters. I was interested in the story as a puzzle to solve, but not a story that said something meaningful about about people or their lives. I don't mean to slam mysteries. I enjoy reading them, their fun. But there is something much more compelling about the kind of mystery revealed in Angle of Repose than in your typical mystery story.
Is anyone interested in discussing this or perhaps recommending other stories that fit this pattern?
[ May 14, 2009, 03:08 PM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]
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