I am reading The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin.


The book has received a fair amount of critical and popular praise. Thus far, I like it. Some history, some love, some violence, some beauty, some isolation. All good things made better by combination. I’ll let you know the final verdict when I’m done reading.

I’m struggling now with trying to read without the MFA voice chattering in my year. Maybe you know that voice. The one that says, “That comma doesn’t belong. I don’t trust that narrator. That character is pretty flat.” Yeah she’s annoying, I know. Mostly I can ignore her, but not always.

Early in The Orchardist two new characters are introduced– Jane and Della. An introduction of new characters often throws that omniscient narrator’s voice into question. Here, let me show you a paragraph:

Sentence #1
“Jane disapproved of the communication between Della and the man, though she said nothing to Della about her behavior.”

Ok, I’ve found my footing. The narrator is close, in the character’s head. Even though Jane didn’t say anything we know of her disapproval. Cool, got it.

Sentence #2:
“ Perhaps Jane didn’t know about it, but that seemed unlikely, since she knew everything.”

WTF?! What do you mean she might not have known. You just said she disapproved. Not she might have disapproved if she’d known. Not that Della expected her to disapprove. What is going on here?! How am I supposed to understand the world if dear narrator doesn’t. Oh the horror!

Yeah, I told you, she’s annoying.

I’m still reading though. That seems like a good sign for the book and a better sign for overcoming the MFA. Excessive analysis cannot ruin my love for reading. Maybe it did for a bit but that voice won’t win every time.