Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Comic Duo Worth Checking Out

I've been curious about WHICH BRINGS ME TO YOU, the new epistolary novel by Julianna Baggott and Steve Almond, ever since reading Almond's article in P&W this month, then hearing his interview with Dennis Loy Johnson on Moby Lives Radio. Baggott came up with an interesting solution to a common problem: how does one write two narrators and have the voices distinct? Have two writers, that's how. Then you get fringe benefits too, like a built-in editor, a little healthy competition to motivate, and especially the funnest part of writing: you actually don't know where the story is headed.

But too, you have to deal with conflict and compromise. The healthy competition can turn unhealthy on a dime. You may stop enjoying each other's company. You may even want to kill each other. These are the risks of collaboration.

I went to their reading last night in NYC and found myself wondering if the lingering conflict between them is shtick or reality. I'm thinking it's a bit of both. They corrected each other during Q&A, and openly acknowledged the dark side of collaboration. But, their novel is based on a fairly gimmicky premise--boy and girl, both bad at love, meet at a wedding, then write confessional letters to each other--and Almond points out that had the writers not encountered conflict in the process, their narrators might not have transcended the gimmick into the meat of a real relationship.

Did I mention they are funny? Both of them. So I urge you to go hear them bicker in person (and read from the book). They have some tour left. Here's a schedule. I haven't read the book yet, but I plan to.


Blogger Clifford Garstang said...

Almond's article in P&W was great, and I know how funny he can be. It must have been cool to see them together and I like what you say about the tension being part shtick and part real--I'm sure you're right! I might have to take a look at the book . . .

8:29 AM  
Blogger Anne said...

Hi Cliff! Yeah, I was more familiar with his work as well. Now I'm curious about her stuff. I'll start with this book and go from there.

12:51 PM  

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