When the Point of View isn't You

I read a lot of books that are written from a female point of view. I guess a lot of them are children's books (mom-based), romances (woman seeks love), adventures (look--we women can have adventures too), etc. But four books this month were definitely guy-centric and great fun. Three of the four were also written by guys, which begs the question: d'you suppose it's easier for a guy to write from a guy's point of view and a gal from a gal's? Or would it be true that, since we're writing different characters in our heads, we can write from any point of view that works for the story being told.

My next novel (after Infinite Sum... still "coming soon" from Indigo Sea) will be titled Subtraction and is told from the point of view of a guy who feels like he keeps losing everything. He takes a road trip and just might find himself, or true love, or a lost child. His point of view most certainly isn't mine, but I certainly feel like I know him well, having traveled with him (in my head) for a long long time.

Still, here are the novels I've just read, starting with the one that's written by a woman. Bring your coffee mug:

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman is actually told from two points of view - a Jewish boy escaping the ghetto of 1900s New York tailoring, and a lonely girl trapped into believing she might be a monster. On Coney Island, all sorts of mysteries gather and seek resolution, while an omniscient narrator sets the stage. It's an odd, absorbing tale, thought-provoking and fascinating, best read with an elegant complex four-star coffee to hand.

Michael Ryan's Guy Novel is, of course, told from the point of view of a guy. Its protagonist is a Californian comic who ends up traveling the world, equally threatened and enticed by bikini and gun. He tells his tale with great humor, some irreverence, lots of honestly human observation, and a very cool touch of personal growth as he wends toward truths about himself and others--maybe even about love. Enjoy with some well-balanced full-flavored three-star coffee, a latte with a touch of zing perhaps.

Shadow of Death and the Saturnalian Effect is the first of Frank Ruffalo's Jack Stenhouse novels, and includes nice touches of romance among the police procedural mystery, again told from the guy's point of view. The protagonist tells his tale with an LA Noir type voice, a deep admiration for the female form, and a surprising willingness to respect the skills of his female colleagues as well, making this a fun pair of stories, told by a fun guy who really likes his girlfriend pair of... she's called Didi. Enjoy with some lively easy-drinking two-star coffee.

Finally,there's Deadly Gold by Ken Baysinger, a novel set in Oregon, filled with Oregon characters, history and politics, plus the occasional dead body, some serious IRS deceit, and a hint of romance. The story's told, again, from the male protagonist's point of view. He's a private detective, good at his job, and a good neighbor, but his politics do tend to get in the way. Great dialog, great characters, sensible detection, and a wonderful sense of place make this a good novel to enjoy over some well-balanced three-star coffee (though the politics might be a little off-balance).


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