Sunday, May 8, 2011

On the Present Tense

From a review by Joseph Salvatore of Dogfight, a Love Story, by Matthew Burgess.

“This disorientation may arise from the story’s being told in the present tense, which heightens immediacy and suspense. But in such fiction, a flash-forward to a character’s paunchy future can be distracting. Suddenly the reader is taken out of the main action and begins looking for clues: Who survives and who doesn’t? What becomes of Alfredo and Isabel’s baby? The use of the present tense can also, paradoxically, flatten out rather than heighten events, so that highs and lows register the same intensity; a dogfight feels no different from, say, someone setting a dinner table.”