Monday, October 24, 2011
Going the Distance
So, although the narrator in Every Time I Think of You is a distance runner, there isn't a lot of competition in the novel. I conveniently set the book after Reid's final high school cross country season, with just a little bit of track team activity and a marathon in the spring.
Reid's evolution as a person, and his steadfast nature, are more reflected by his being someone who goes the distance, not as a stellar athlete, but as someone who perseveres. The athleticism serves a purpose, but it's not the main focus. Don't expect a lot of intense details on competitions.
Having spent so many years immersing myself in wrestling during the almost ten years spent developing PINS, I knew which sports the two main characters would pursue, but it wasn't just about their athleticism.
I also had made the choice not to mention the pivotal book The Front Runner, written by friend and mentor Patricia Nell Warren. Inserting a mention of what The New york times described as "the most moving, monumental love story ever written about gay life" is setting oneself up for failure by comparison.
Reid might have possibly found the book, as did I, in high school, at a shopping mall bookstore. It might have even changed his life in ways. But Patricia's novel is just too big to include. So would any mention of Reid's probably heroes like Steve Prefontaine.
There's a strange thing in literature I call "Novel World," where much of literary fiction either completely ignores the setting's media - TV films, books- or layers pop culture references, as in another classic, Don DeLillo's White Noise. A close read of PINS will reveal that novel's influence. I did a lot of that in PINS, in fact making the main characters the subject of the media. I chose not to do that in Every Time... with the exception of a few favorite pop songs of the era (thus the title).
Like the pure sport of running, with Every Time, I set out to create a "clean" novel, one that isn't derivative, isn't too dense, yet still maintains a level of symbolism and a different voice than my other work.
Of course, Reid would probably have loved this song!
(Photos were randomly chosen and are not meant to imply anything about the subjects.)