Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Sharp Teeth: BOOK
All of the above apply to Toby Barlow's novel SHARP TEETH. He tells the simple tale of dueling werewolf gangs (Well, kinda. They actually turn into wolves as opposed to wolf-human hybrids) Ge squeezes every animalistic emotional beat out of the tale in a very interesting way: The entire novel is written in free verse.
When I cracked the book open for the first time my blood ran cold. It's bloody poetry! Was I going to have to count syllables to get the full impact? Was Miss Springle going to ask me to phonetically break it down? Where are the arch point!?
I took a deep shaky breath.
It only took only a page to figure out that free verse has no rules. It's just a style of presentation to create a driving rhythm. The author has public stated (HERE) that he chose free verse e to speed up the pacing and trim the fat. Sentences are broken up into three to four words, paragraphs are short and punchy, and everything has an impact that wouldn't exist if the novel were written conventionally. The fact that you have to skip to the next line in the middle of a sentence allows the words to linger in your mind. It takes a life of its own. The text is over-dramatic prose, but the way Toby interweaves humor in the violence in the mix makes it work. It was a good idea to tell the tale from a constantly shifting perspective as bad, good and in-between characters get their chance to narrate the going-ons. Another good idea was keeping things simple, but still throwing curve balls as the story ducks and weaves in different directions you weren't expecting. It was one of the most memorable and enjoyable reads I've had in a long time. Howl at the moon!