Five Hundred Words on Multiple Points of View

I am a sucker for narratives that employ multiple points of view as a storytelling device. That’s actually what appeals to me most about a movie like Pulp Fiction. It’s not the violence or the music or the catchy Quentin dialogue that pulls me in (though all of those things help). No, Pulp Fiction grabs me because it tells four different stories, from a handful of different points of view, and becomes much more than the sum of its parts because of these juxtapositions.

I am such a sucker for multiple points of view that I salivate at the thought of sub-par flicks like Four Rooms and will re-read short stories and novels that employ the technique, even if they were otherwise insufferable on a first read.

This obsession spills out into the rest of my life as a consumer of stories, as well. For instance, after spending countless hours this past summer and fall watching The Tudors, I immediately queued up Elizabeth, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and The Other Boleyn Girl in Netflix. I needed to see every perspective on that story that I could find (no matter how historically inaccurate). Maybe it’s the Libra in me—yes, I’m still a Libra, and I will fight you if you say different—but I crave the breadth of knowledge that comes from hearing all sides of an argument.

This, perhaps more than anything, is what’s drawing me toward Townie: A Memoir by Andre Dubus III, a forthcoming book on the author’s childhood and youth. Having just finished his father’s Meditations from a Movable Chair, I’m at a point where I want to absorb every bit of information I can on the story of the Dubus family. And Townie, with a title that obviously nods in the direction of my favorite short story of all time, seems like it’ll be just what the head doctor ordered.

My friend and Generation Goat co-host Jonathan Martin pointed me in the direction of this essay in The New York Times which appears to be an excerpt from the book (or maybe some other sort of outtake) and even just this small snippet by Dubus the Younger completely recolors bits of the narrative that Dubus the Older wrote down in Meditations. It’s really illuminating stuff.

One thing I find myself wondering is whether or not there is anything wrong with the way that I am fascinated by these writers and their story. Is my interest in all things Dubus any different than some other person’s interest in all things Snooki? Sure, the Dubus boys have produced great art, and that’s my primary interest, but is my interest in their lives outside writing any different from the interest reality TV show fans have in the subjects of the programs they watch? I’m not sure. Is the literary memoir nothing more than reality TV for snobs? And should I care, one way or another?

Either way, I look forward to reading Townie: A Memoir.