[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of “Narrative Madness” by Ronald B. Richardson, editor Katie Fox.]
Narrative Madness is a non-fiction book that uses Don Quixote as its primary literary device in explaining how people in general construct a narrative in everyday life. Richardson looks at a variety of different factors to explain what causes our “madness” and how everyone suffers from the same ailment. He examines our habits in everyday life and how our use of different languages not only shapes our minds but defines our world. What is in a name? How does that affect how we view objects? Can narratives be defined and constrained or are they reconstructed based on who is issuing the narrative? What responsibilities are readers given by the authors when they decipher the story? All of these questions are examined in this book and explained in much detail to try and further understanding.
Richardson did a great job with this book. At first, I assumed, he was simply going to examine Don Quixote and analyze the different aspects of the hero of the story. He went well beyond that. Richardson examined not only himself as a writer but us as humans and how the use of words and our ability to communicate has advanced us in this world. He examined, in depth, the use of language, the objective nature humans use to relay information, the power in writing and developing stories.
Don Quixote simply became a vessel, used to interpret different styles of narratives. The abundance of characters and authors used throughout Don Quixote lent themselves as great examples to the points Richardson was making. As a character, Don Quixote went through a form of madness, living his life as if he were in chivalry romance book. The use of different authors throughout the book gave different interpretations and, in some cases, different titles to the main character. The subject of the book and the way it was written gave Richardson a platform to discuss, in detail, the power of narratives.
I enjoyed Narrative Madness because in many ways it forced me to observe words and how we relay them differently. Richardson manages to provide a lot of detail and a lot of analysis without being overwhelming in his delivery. He manages to be concise, humorous, intriguing and extremely informative, throughout the book. His playful delivery kept the book from becoming overwhelming but did not take away from its integrity.
I give this 4 out of 4 stars. The ease in which Richardson delivered the information and his use of analogy made this book a success. Anyone interested in observing the art of the narrative and how it effects everyone, should definitely read this book.
Written by Stacie C.