Mosaic of Memories in Upcoming Fiction “Focus Puller”

The Fiction Addiction

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Focus Puller, by Daniel Hess, is a novel, but it's told in vignettes from different characters with time jumps, so it feels more like a short story collection. Eventually, these short scenes make up a full story of a young man, Ben, who falls into and out of relationships, and wants to be a filmmaker. There's an interesting aspect here, since the novel is about other people reacting to Ben and describing the effects he's had on their lives, but Ben's creative work is about making his own personality invisible.

In this story, we see Ben's ex-girlfriends all describing him and remembering him as a hugely important person in their lives. Different women describe how they met Ben, sometimes how they fell into bed with him, or how their relationship unfolded over time. In one vignette, when he tells a girlfriend they're over, and she must move out in the legally-mandated 30 days, she responds by telling him she will always love him. Many of these vignettes work as standalone microfiction, too. These events are large and small, creating the feeling that Ben's life (and life in general) is made up of these large and small decisions.

Overall, there's not exactly a plot in Focus Puller, it's really an extended character study, with interesting shifts in style and atmosphere between narrators discussing our main character. Readers get to know Ben, as described by a collection of other people, over several years. It's an interesting idea -- a picture of a complex life told by a mosaic of different people at different times. This tactic shows Ben's goals, flaws and complications, as he grows and matures. There are a couple vignettes narrated by Ben, where reader get a chance to see how he sees himself and these women around him. There's one moment when Ben muses on what a great lover he is and how long he can usually have sex, which really shows his character without the filter of a second person's interpretation.

Focus Puller isn't linear, which adds to the feeling that this is a collection of short stories. Eventually, though, readers see a character study emerge. The novel shows Ben as a young man, discovering himself and the world. We see him gain maturity in some of his decisions, and we see his personal, private doubts. This novel unfolds as an interesting character study, and a story of discovery and memory.

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