Yesterday I finished reading Native Son by Richard Wright. It was difficult to read because of the blatant racism depicted on so many levels and I know that the depiction was accurate. I believe America has made progress since the release of that book, but know we still live in a racist society. Worse I know that many people in America today look back at how things were in that book as favorable and as a time they’d like to get back to. I believe those conditions are included for many when they don Make America Great Again caps.
As for the writing of the book, what struck me as profound was that in its four hundred plus pages, there were very few plot points in the book. Very significant things occurred but in terms of plot points, they were limited in a book of this length. And I see that allowed for the genius of the book. The majority of the text related the internal thoughts of the point of view character, Bigger Thomas, and the subtext of the actions that surrounded him.
With Orly Bialek, I try to devote a lot of her narration to her private thoughts, but someday I would like to write something that really plunged so deeply into one’s thoughts (perhaps even my own) that the thoughts themselves become the true story. But that is hard to do. It is not as easy as just sticking to an internal monologue. It has to be understandable, relatable, and still possess the things a story requires—a progression of character, a movement of circumstances, a reckoning, a realization, a change. I referred to this as the genius of Native Son and that is what it is.