The Islanders: End of Book Discussion Part 2 - Narrator & Author
The Narrator & The Author
About the narrators - we are introduced to a person in the intro, but after that the tone is no one's voice from nowhere. The voice of authority, or the Wizard of Oz if you prefer.
I think this is quite true for the gazetteer entries, which contrasted significantly with the 'fictional' entries. Any thoughts on the contrasting tone?
I don't mind unreliable narrators, but when the author announces this in the intro, this signals that the author does not care, and further more is using this authorial unreliability as an 'artistic' statement.
Does it signal that the author doesn't care? Should novels (or novel length books, anyway) eschew artistic statements? Did this book go too far in sacrificing the things we want out of novels in order to make it's statement?
I too found the unreliable narrator annoying in the Introduction - "I don't know much about this, or this, or this, and nobody knows anything about this!" - well stop telling us about it then. I do usually skip introductions, even when they're in character, and I wished I'd done that here.
I'm never one skip an introduction, myself, and don't quite understand why some people do, but it's certainly a thing people do. @rossum also made a point of skipping introductions. I can't help but think skipping this one would really rob you of the experience of the book, though. Where do you stand - either for this book, or for introductions in general? In telling is what he didn't know, was Kammeston actually telling us something about himself?
I guess my starting position is that it doesn't matter how much speakers insist that they are the initiators of language, speakers cannot ever be anything other than derivatives of listeners. They are utterly trustworthy in this way. I'm waiting to see if Priest is a listener, and what grows out of his speaking.
This circles back again to the question of who is more important - an author or a reader. We've all read the same book but with very different reactions. Where the 'meaning' of the book is concerned, this isn't surprising; Priest didn't give us a roadmap. But this was also true in some of the more mundane entries, where Priest was describing the history of an island. I find the contrast quite interesting.
The second statement is also interesting, because it calls into question the character of the author. Is Priest a 'listener'? Several assumptions about the nature of the author were made during our discussions? Can we really judge the author based on a reading of one of his many books? To what degree do we feel secure in these judgements?
I am beginning to think Priest is an elf, as in "Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes"
LOL. Quite right!