Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I Remember It Well, But Perfectly?

I've really soured on literary flashbacks. Not only does a flashback stall a story's natural progress, not only are too many flashbacks set in harder-to-read italics, but I find the fidelity of first-person flashbacks largely implausible. Whose memory isn't gilded or eroded by time? Who remembers long conversations word-for-word years later?

I can accept a perfect flashback in third person-limited or third-omniscient. That is, an unbiased account of exactly what happened.


Peter said...

I'm guilty of having taken a fiction course or two in my time. Teachers always warn against flashbacks, but more for fear of disrupting the narrative flow than for the reasons you suggest. A skillful author can avoid creating the impression that an incident is being reported as it happened, I think.

Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Gerald So said...

As you said on your blog, books allow more ambiguity as to whether flashbacks are reliable. Maybe I've just read too many long, incredibly detailed first-person flashbacks.