Monday, June 7, 2010

To Quote, or Not To Quote...

I am on page 40 of How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, the first book in my 40x40 Book Challenge.

As I said in my earlier post, the first thing I noticed when I opened the book is that the writer, among other things, did not use the standard punctuation around dialogue, particularly quotation marks. For example, on page 4, where Daisy, the protagonist, meets her cousin Edmond for the very first time upon arriving at the airport in London, and they board his jeep to go home:

He threw my bag in the back, though more like pushed it in, because it was pretty heavy, and then said Get in Cousin Daisy, and there was nothing else I could think of to do so I got in.

While the story is developing smoothly so far, I find this difference in mechanics rather confusing and distracting. I keep telling myself that I'll get used to it after I keep moving forward through the book. But it is taking some time to get used to. And I don't know if that is a good, or a bad thing.

Some rules are made to be broken, but I am just not so sure how I feel about punctuation rules around dialogue. I am having difficulty identifying whether the characters are actually speaking to each other or not. The quotation marks serve a little signals to my brain that tell me that Daisy, or Edmond is actually saying something.

I just know that if I were to submit a piece that ignored the conventions of dialogue punctuation to my critique group, everyone would pounce on me for doing just that. "Didn't you learn anything from your grade school writing class?" they would say. They would tear the piece apart just on that issue alone, and quite possibly throw me out of the group.

Ms. Rosoff's style makes me feel like all the time I have spent learning, and everything I know, about mechanics and style can be thrown out the window. However, it is for that reason that I find this book so interesting. This, among other things, is possibly what sets this book apart in the Young Adult Literature category. Seeing this style reminds me that this is a different kind of book. Written outside the confines or the dictates of conventional style. Out-of-the-box, if I may be so cliché about being different.

I must say however, the voice of her character is very clear and well-defined. I look forward to finding out more about Daisy, and her impending love affair with her first cousin, Edmond. That specific topic, however, will be a post for another day.

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