Friday, April 12, 2013

Making It Up versus Imagining It--Notes from Andre Dubus

Like you, I love good writing.  I adore books that let me enter a dream world and only surface reluctantly.  As a writing teacher, I study such books to find out why they hold me so completely.  The best of the best get reserved for my workshops as teaching tools. 

At my Madeline Island retreats each summer, we read sections from Andre Dubus's award-winning novel, House of Sand and Fog, particularly a pivotal scene that takes place in a revolving restaurant in San Francisco. 

Dubus chose the setting first, he told me at a writing conference in Manchester, New Hampshire, this past weekend.  He started with the revolving rooftop location and then built the event around it.  The event he chose perfectly reflects the disorientation of watching a cityscape go by.  The two main characters are revealing unsavory truths to each other, making a pact, about to get into trouble.  The scene even foreshadows a crime they will commit together at the end of the story.