Stream of consciousness is a writing technique wherein you write what you’re thinking at one specific time without going back to change or edit anything. It’s mostly used as a tool to get a writer back into the groove of writing whenever they’re trapped in an existential quandary or have a bout of writer’s block. Unless a character in a book is having a stream of consciousness moment, generally an exercise like this isn’t usually published for mass consumption. But L.E. Moebius has taken this tool and used it to her advantage. From what I know, every day for thirty days, Moebius wrote one chapter without pause, without double checking aspects from other chapters or going back to fuss over anything she wrote. Whatever came to her mind in however much time it took is what the chapter became. In her second attempt at this format, 30 Days Stream of Consciousness: A Haunting, Moebius intelligently crafts a fast, creative, but somewhat generic story of a haunted house and its unwitting occupant.
It all starts with the house and its history: a few decades ago, an old man known as Davis died in his basement. Five unhappy occupants later and our nameless narrator’s friend, Mark, purchases the house in order to flip it, then dares the narrator to stay there rent free until his main construction crews had a chance to start work on the home (you know, in order to keep the vandals out). As always, strange things start to occur and the men Mark has assigned to begin renovations feel a presence that they want no part of. The narrator’s only true companion is Artemis, a cat that breaks into the house and sticks around. It’s through this relationship — as the narrator tells Artemis about what happens each day — that we receive most of our information. It’s an intriguing narrative structure and works well enough, with one minor hitch: the identity of our narrator’s gender.
I know what you’re thinking — what does the narrator’s gender have to do with anything? I’ll say this — the specific gender didn’t bother me. The way it’s written did. There’s no real indication as to whether the narrator is male or female when the book begins (though certain clues may steer you toward one over the other), so until we know for sure, it’s hard to fully connect to the character. I believe this ambiguity also lends itself to the possibility of different readings or interpretations. Taking the author’s own gender into account, in conjunction with the light, feminine tone, I slid into the book under the assumption the narrator was female. When it becomes known halfway through that it is a male, it feels too late, as I’ve already established a character in my mind. This sudden shift (or change) in my interpretation of the character got in the way of truly immersing myself in the story, which doesn’t go much beyond a basic haunted house structure.
Don’t get me wrong, the structure works — it’s the building block for any haunted house story. And the way that Moebius writes gives everything a much more intriguing nature. The introduction of A Haunting describes what stream of consciousness is, in a sense warning the reader about how this style may affect the structure, ideas, characterization and the like throughout the book.
“The conventions of grammar and appropriateness of language is usually ignored when using this literary device.”
Regardless of this knowledge, I still felt the smallest amount of editing would have gone a long way. Not in structure, voice, grammar, appropriateness, characterization or even punctuation, but in the misspelling of words that stop the flow of the book, which overall is extremely fast and smooth. Each chapter runs no longer than a couple of pages, giving us quick snippets of each day the narrator stays in the house, making the read breezy and light.
The problem is, the narrative structure lends itself to repetition and predictability. I won’t give anything away here, but there’s one subplot that’s set up to be something of a mystery, but if you’ve seen or read plenty of supernatural stories, it becomes pretty obvious how this particular aspect is going to turn out. And then it doesn’t? Or does it?
The end is a bit ambiguous and feels a bit rushed or cut off, as if we’re somehow missing a chapter somewhere. I still understand what happened, but is it enough of a punch to the senses to capture the spirit of the book, or is it simply a feckless way to end the book simply because the thirty days were up? Maybe a little of both, but I applaud Moebius for her attempt at producing a logical, coherent story while staying true to her conviction of doing it all as stream of consciousness, letting the world see where her mind goes.
My Grade: B
L.E. Moebius lives in Idaho, where she supplements her writing income by teaching high school and college. Having earned a Bachelor’s in English Teaching and a Master’s in Educational Leadership, Moebius is currently pursing her doctorate in education. She’s written a handful of books, under both her pseudonym and her given name, Lucinda Moebius, and is a strong advocate of helping independent writers gain visibility and find their audience. She administers a Facebook page, Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors (as well as its sister page, Science Fiction and Fantasy (and other genres) Authors Group Promo Group), where members of the group can play King of the Hill, and runs mynextfavoriteauthor.blogspot.com, where authors of the group (as well as King of the Hill participants) can be interviewed and highlighted.
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