Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dreaming on the Page

As an editor, I read so many novels featuring achingly dull dream sequences that I was poisoned for years against such books. Believe me, if you've only got three chapters to show off your novel, think twice about wasting them on reheated nocturnal ramblings.
But Stuart Evers at The Guardian Blog has found a few recent novels that have got it right.

My own favourite dream sequences are those in Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, particularly Tereza's dream about her lover Tomas' women parading around a swimming pool while he casually shot at them from above. So much is said about her state of mind, and her fears, and the dream itself is hauntingly surreal.

The worst ... well anyone who writes "But it was only a dream" at the end of a story deserves to be ritually disemboweled on the altar of the gods of literature! Did any six words create greater disappointment for a reader?

Anyway - what fictional dreams have stood out for you?


Baronhawk said...

Kinda like the whole thing with Bobby dead and JR shot in Dallas which was revealed near the end of the season, to be just a dream. How excruciating.

Hmm favourite dream sequence on page... is from the Book Of Lost Things by John Connolly.

Near the end of the book. When David, the main protagonist was old and dying. Just before his last breath he was returned to the faerie lands that he adventured in to find his salvation, to find his dead father, deceased wife and stillborn child alive and well waiting for him, as Connolly so ever lovingly caressed the ending moments of the tale, "a lifetime is but a moment in that place, and each man dreams his own heaven."

It is for him, a dream... a dream of heaven that his life was not. "And in the darkness,David closed his eyes, and all that was lost was found again."

Anonymous said...

It has to be Don Quixote, and many of his feverish dreams and halluncinations that propel him to do all those crazy things...Its laugh out loud funny at first, increasingly sad, finally heartbreaking...Don dreaming the impossible dream, righting the unrightable wrong..


Anonymous said...

I hate reading pages and pages about a character's dream. And what annoys me more is when the dream happens from the first page, in a prologue. Before we even learn to care who the character is do we give a shit what about reading his/her dreams? It's like some stranger coming up to you and who starts boring you with "Last night I dreamed..."

Anonymous said...

Worst offender - the crappy novel The Piano Tuner.

- Poppadumdum

Jade said...

This has gotta be one of my fav fictional dreams :)

fizah said...

A.B Yehoshua's "The Lover".
Wonderful almost poetic dream sequences.