Michael Ondaatje uses a lot of prose. Beautifully written, well-crafted prose, which narrates and summarizes events. And that is a problem, because if there is too much summary, the happenings in the novel won’t be grounded.
In DIVISADERO, a searing event happens about 30 pages into the book. Anna, the protagonist of the novel, is 16 years old. She is having sex with her first lover when her father discovers her. He rips her from her lover’s arms. Life is never the same again.
When Anna gets into bed with another lover (p. 72 in my paperback edition), I want to know more. At the very least, I want to be in a scene that conveys how it fells, not only because I now care about Anna and how she feels, but because it would also ground the event in time. How long is it since Anna was dragged away from Coop? Ten years? Twenty years? I want to know, and when I don’t, I fell disconnected from the characters that inhabit this novel.
–Cynthia Haggard writes historical novels. She has two completed manuscripts that will be published in the coming year. THWARTED QUEEN is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.FAMILY SPLINTERS is a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.