By design, I had written my novel to be more on the simple side. I use simple language and—save for a few pivotal and meaningful moments—you would find few passages that sound “literary”. I use a lot of nature imagery and I make vague allusions to Mark’s pastoral aspirations. The reason for this is to create a discord between the story’s setting and its content and style. When one thinks of New York City, one thinks of rapidness. There is a quickness to the speech. A sense of speed, efficiency. Things move fast in this city. There’s no time to stop and smell the roses.
Instead of using this clipped character, I write the story with a slow sensitivity that borders on languishing. It almost has a country-song quality to its more relaxed pacing and a certain sense of thoughtfulness. The way I tell the story also mirror’s Mark’s discord with his environment. Where New Yorkers are loathe to sit still for more than a few seconds, Mark wants nothing more but to sit still. New York is a city characterized by transience, yet Mark is characterized by permanence. He is at odds with is environment. New Yorkers are rude—or at least unempathetic and impatient. Mark is polite and patient. He possesses the qualities of what some might consider a Southern gentleman; and he is slightly English in his penchant for orderly queues and proper dress, amongst other things. However, he is a native New Yorker. Thus, he is displaced without ever having moved anywhere. Again, he is at odds with his environment.
Tying it all together, this discord between Mark and his surroundings is also deepened by my illustrations of his moral sensitivity. Where everyone is more or less comfortable with moral ambiguities so long as they are not directly affected by breaches of morality, Mark is frightened and appalled by such small acts as not returning umbrellas and not acknowledging the homeless people who shuffle through trains. These are things that New Yorkers think nothing of because urban living has hardened them. These are also things that people who grew up outside of large metropolitan cities would balk at. One interpretation an attentive reader could arrive at, then, is that the city is a bad place. Though New York City is no longer as easily portrayed as a modern-day Gommorah as it once was, with its street hookers and drug-addled pedestrians at Times Square, there are still things that I believe are dehumanizing about the city life. One loses touch with nature and becomes hardened to suffering; one becomes dependent on public transportation and one’s navigational skills suffer; and one becomes softened from convenience and made impatient by the fast paced city life that threatens to drag one by the hand and off one’s feet if one is not careful.
In this way, I create a contrast. But so far, I have only done so by expressing the nature of Mark. I still have much work ahead of me, as I must heighten the transience and quickness of the city. I can only hope that my desired effect impacts readers as I wish it to.