Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I’ve blogged previously about The Oxford Project which, through photographs and interviews with the residents of tiny Oxford, Iowa, provides confirming evidence that everybody has an interesting life story.

But further, it suggests that people are complex characters in their interesting stories.* Consider this quote from a 75-year-old man named Darrel:

We lost one of our daughters to cancer two years ago. I still talk to [her] every day. She had a great sense of humor. Always did, even as a little girl. The loss of a child is about as bad as it gets. The last thing [she] said before she died was, “I love you, Dad.”
Darrel’s comments break your heart, yes? In a novel, he’d be a 100%-sympathetic character. But in real life, a few pages earlier in the book, we saw another side of him (and that daughter) through the words of a 35-year-old woman named Robin:

I met Karen when I worked at a theatre in Amana [Iowa]. A week later, we went on our first date. When I told my mom, I think she cried, but in front of me, all she said was that she was disappointed. Mom told my brother Ben, “You need to hate the sin, not the sinner.” My grandfather Darrel and I don’t talk.

*aha: maybe the complex part begets the interesting part?

1 comment:

  1. Such books are a writer's best friend. You can read through them once for pleasure, and once more for discovering gems not even the best how-to-create-complex-characters books could ever teach you.