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.

2 comments:

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.

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