Sunday, November 28, 2010

from the BRG archives: Score 1 for quiet stories

Over the years, one of the comments I often get about my work is that it is quiet. It is an interesting label to ponder, particularly because we live in such a "loud" culture. It seems to me, we are surrounded by loud. Tv's are loud, traffic is loud, advertising is loud- there are very few moments in the day when we sit calmly and do something quietly, reflectively, thoughtfully. What more perfect for quiet reflection than reading a book? Of course I love adventures and thrilling plot lines as much as the next reader. But I am drawn to making books that satisfy another need, books that offer depth read after read, that let you breathe page to page.

It is a challenge for sure, some (not all) publishers feel that if a book isen't "loud" enough to scream its way off a book shelf then it won't sell. With that in mind, I get particularly excited with art with a "quiet" aesthetic is commercially successful.

Okay, so its not quite a book I'm thinking of, but it relates to storytelling so I'm including it on this blog anyways! This weekend I saw 'Little Miss Sunshine,' and it made me really happy. If you had to describe the plot in a short sentence, you could say it is about a family on a road trip to a beauty pageant (don't worry- I won't ruin it for you if you haven't seen it). In a world of movies (and books) about wizards and ghosts and kids being shrunk down to ant size, it is just really refreshing to see a story with very little plot at all that is just as funny and witty and entertaining. The story is essentially an exploration of the characters and their relationships with eachother, its revealing and touching and I felt really captured the essence of being a kid in a complicated family.

Now this is not a kid's movie per say, there is a lot of swearing and pretty inappropriate kid subject matter. But my point I guess is that I just find it really inspiring when directors and writers find a creative way to say a lot with a little, to get a big point across without over the top plot wrangling. Like any good book, the audience is allowed to be an active participant in the unveiling of the story, that feels like it tells itself.

Originally published Aug. 22, 2006

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