Monday, April 18, 2011

Harlin and Prewitt, at the Bar on the Train

As many authors will tell you, sometimes a character is just asking to be treated badly. Hurt. Or even killed.

Recently I had this discussion with acclaimed author Rebecca Barry. Rebecca is the author of Later, at the Bar—a collection of linked stories selected as a New York Times Notable Book and praised everywhere from People to Vanity Fair. Reviewers from Bookslut to Chicago Sun Times praised Later, at the Bar.

I mentioned to Rebecca that I really liked one of her recurring characters, Harlin. Things don’t go well for Harlin, but as you read, you understand that it’s the only way they can go for a person like him. Sometimes your characters demand a particular treatment—be it love, loss, death, or redemption. Readers sometimes imagine that authors are engineers when in reality it is oftentimes our characters who are in control of what happens.

After reading Tracks, Rebecca said, “I felt the same way about Prewitt as you did about Harlin.” But no matter how you feel about a character, what must be, must be. “Sometimes it's just what the book demands.”

See what the New York Times had to say about Rebecca’s novel in stories.

Find out what happens to Harlin in Later, at the Bar.

Find out what happens to Prewitt in Tracks.

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