Monday, December 27, 2010

The Animal Angle

I dont' think anyone can talk about Rita Mae Brown's work fairly without discussing the "animal angle."

I've never written a story or a novel from the POV of an animal. Mostly because I, personally, have never been inspired to do so. However, Rita Mae Brown has made quite a lucrative career from writing from the POV of a cat.

This can be seen in the literary realm (as opposed to the genre arena of cozy mysteries, etc.) as well--some of the bestest-best sellers of recent years have had, at least partially, the POV of an animal: The Art of Racing in the Rain, The Dogs of Babel, Dog Gone It, etc.

The challenge presented by this creative style is obvious: we don't know how animals think, so how can we, as humans, possibly narrate convincingly? Brown is surrounded by animals day in and day out. She lives on a farm and is, therefore, familiar with animal behavior. This experience is reflected in her work--with lots of focus on smells, etc.

I think Brown has hit on the answer for this creative dilemma. If you're going to write from the POV of an animal, then you better darn well observe that animal. And not just on Animal Planet. The movement, the engagement, the habits, and (ahem) the smell of the animal is something that should be witnessed in person.

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