people of paper

my favorite thing about people of paper is how it calls into question the character/narrator/author/reader relationship. novels exist with the idea that there is an author who either makes himself the narrator (third person) or who creates a character to narrate. we are then told the story through the eyes of that character.

as a reader, we don’t always remember that the characters of the book and all of their actions are determined by the author. if the author is good and develops characters well, we believe that we are witnessing real people existing in their own world and the narrator is either one of the characters telling us what happened (first person) or some omniscient narrators spying on a bunch of people living their lives.

people of paper gives us both perspectives. on the one hand, we have little mercede and many other characters telling us, directly their stories because we see it through the eyes of saturn, or plasencia. other times their is an omniscient narrator telling us what is happening in these characters lives. what is interesting is that the two characters that seem to be the center of the story don’t get to narrate their own lives. the story is about plasencia’s struggle to find happiness as he writes about fernando’s struggle to find happiness yet fernando doesn’t get to tell us about his struggle. we only hear about it from saturn and everyone else around him. saturn doesn’t even tell us the story of his own unhappiness but narrates his own life in third person.

still, these are only characters created by an author, but plasencia wants us to believe more than that. he makes their world seem more real by making us–the reader–believe that by reading the book we are invading it. of course, by writing the book, he too is invading it–and he makes sure to point this out. in a way, it expresses what reality tv does. we are given unreal characters, a fictional plot, and expected to believe it is real. somehow though, i find myself identifying with his characters much more than if they were part of a reality show. though the stories might not be real, the emotions underlying it definitely are.