Thank you to the fine readers so generous with Garner. This (suspended, electronic universe!) is a wonderful format for literary conversation.
The ambiguity of the who-dun-it is certainly not meant to be coy or, for that matter, particularly experimental. I think it more closely tracks with how we experience life – elliptically, with imperfect or unreliable information and perspective. I hope that Garner shies away from the literal, while courting a resonance with the real shadows it was drawn from.
Ambiguity provokes tension. Ultimately, I think the story is more powerful if it remains less delineated. I hope the tension in Garner is compounded by Willard Heald’s voice bleeding into the text – he is that dangerous person who tries to speak for all. Where does Heald stop and Garner begin? Where does he read the town, read the mail, write the town, love the girl?
That being said, there are clues everywhere (Chris! You are letting people off the hook!), and I hoped very much to elicit close readings. Words are shifty characters.
Flannery O'Connor says, "In fiction, everything that has an explanation has to have it and the residue is Mystery with a capital m." I do hope there is residual mystery in Garner.
Bring on the questions! Thank you, lbc -- and Dan Wickett in particular -- for the wonderful support for Garner and Coffee House Press.