Hi there. I’m a creative writer focusing on writing a collection of short stories. I’m reading and looking into different stories as part of that mission.
Each week I’ll craft a brief article about a short story I enjoy, looking at three elements that writers can apply to new writing.
The Great Rock and Roll Pauses by Jennifer Egan
Synopsis: A teenager explores her family’s behaviour and the meanings behind their actions on a PowerPoint slide.
Story Home: A Visit From The Good Squad — or here on the author’s website.
Jennifer Egan is an award-winning short story writer and novelist. Her novel/short story collection, A Visit From the Good Squad, scooped the Pulitzer Prize in 2011. She’s just released a follow up to this, The Candy House, so you can find a lot of interview content online. Here’s a writerly chat about her process and a later interview specifically about her follow up novel.
For those reluctant to say goodbye to a short story character, Jennifer’s work offers hope that they don’t have to be tucked away after just one story.
1. The Character and POV
The main character here is Alison, a 12-year-old girl who prefers to express herself through slides. The POV here is observer narrator; while Alison narrates the story, it’s more focused on the other members of her family.
The brother, Lincoln, who appears in the Candy House, is obsessed with counting and measurements. His obsession worries his father, who struggles to connect with him.
Alison goes on a quest in the story; to understand the actions and dialogue of her family. She has the most self-awareness out of the family and joins her brother on his Great Rock and Roll pauses adventure. She even manages to get her father to see the extraordinary within the pauses.
Her innocence and awareness make her the best person to tell this story; she understands her brother and understands why her parents don’t.
Who is the best character to tell your story?