Al Young Long Fiction Analysis
Al Young’s concern for language, a concern that embraces both mistrust and love, is clearly evinced in his prose. His second novel, Who Is Angelina?, and his fourth, Ask Me Now, have third-person narrative personae who stand close to their author; they appear hesitant to act freely for want of purpose. Readers of the first and third novels, however, will quickly recognize Young’s ability to render in his first-person narrative personae a vibrant male voice of new adulthood (Snakes) or sagacious middle age (Sitting Pretty).
The author’s background as a professional musician enables him to use music descriptively as well as metaphorically. The music of language also affects Young’s style. Sparingly, he alters standard syntax and diction, sometimes punctuation, in order to set the speech closer to its natural human tone. His objective is not merely to create contemporary dialect but also to create an enduring contemporaneity, to offer rhythmically, as the poet-musician should, the nonverbal meanings that language can carry in its sounds. Young creates this quality of speech through narrative personae who speak softly or stridently, sometimes too literally, yet with voices constant and sincere.
Love, like a curse or a whimper, extends most intensely from the individual to those nearby. The contemporary American social dilemma is thereby represented in Young’s prose just as it appears in his poetry:...
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