Randomness as book plot

I was thinking about the use of randomness as a plot device in fiction. Thornton Wilder used it to good effect in The Bridge of San Luis Rey, in which five people die when a bridge in Peru collapses. The protagonist decides to investigate the lives of these five people to see if there was a purpose to their deaths. (I can’t remember the answer but I remember enjoying the book.)

Another book that used this device well (or so I thought at the time) was John Buchan’s The Gap in the Curtain , in which a few (5 again?) people are "trained" to see into the future. As a result they are all able to read the newspaper for a brief time on a certain date one year ahead. The story tells of what each one read (two of them read their own obituaries, I recall, another a business opportunity, but I forget the rest), and follows what happened as a result to each one over the year to the appointed date. Pretty good stuff.

Jenny D said…

And my favorite in this vein is a movie called (I think–my brothers and I watched it on TV once a long time ago and we all just sort of fell in love with it though it was fairly awful) "Crashup on Interstate 5"–it opens with the scene of the crashup (a huge accident on the interstate), then does this hilarious freeze-frame thing on each car and goes back 24 hours to tell the story of how those people came to be in that place at that time….

Great run of posts today–I like your place one–it is so true, isn’t it? I feel like a total nutjob when I try and explain the appeal of blogging to, say, non-blogging family members, and yet I have made some really, really excellent friends this way, including lots of people I may never meet in person but some who have become real-world friends as well. Good stuff….

5:33 PM

julsitos said…

yup.. wonderful story… I’m on the part of the Perichole’s story…

very simple writing but sublime in meaning.

2:41 PM