In Great Rock n’ Roll Pauses, the plot revolves around the narrator, Ally, and her family over two days. We are introduced to the characters and their personalities through slides that Ally makes. We learn that Ally’s brother Lincoln is obsessed with pauses in rock n’ roll songs. Sasha, her artist mother with a mysterious past, is supportive while Drew, the father who works as a doctor, just doesn’t quite get it. The conflict in the story focuses on Drew’s difficulty connecting and understanding his son, ultimately leading to a dispute. A secondary conflict is Ally’s probing into her mother’s past. Ally even says at one point,
“My job is to make people uncomfortable”
“I will do it all my life”
After the argument, Drew calms down and apologizes to a distraught Lincoln. Some time later, Drew and Ally take a walk in the desert. She asks Drew about his past, and he answers, a stark contrast to Sasha. Ally talks about pauses, telling her father a way he can make up with Lincoln. The slideshow ends with graphs of pauses in rock n’ roll songs, effectively revealing the resolution of conflict. I do believe we were able to see inner change from Ally and Drew. Ally gains a stronger appreciation for her family and Drew finally makes an attempt to connect with Lincoln. I’m not so sure about Sasha and Lincoln.
While I had some difficulty understanding the structure of the story at first, I was quickly enamored by it. I believe the diagrammatic form helped me see the story from the narrator’s point of view better. It also allowed for more information that added to the world of the story, without interrupting the main storyline. Emphasis on pauses using blank slides and boxes had enormous impact that may have been difficult to convey if the author were to use the diagrammatic form of books we are typically used to reading.
I never would have thought to write a story in this format. I struggle with words often. To see a story executed in this manner is honestly so helpful in seeing how I can push the boundaries of storytelling.
Great Rock and Roll Pauses, was an overall great read, but at my initial goal of the story’s format, it felt a bit overwhelming. Often I found myself lost in where to focus my attention on. After a few pages, I started to get the hang of it and enjoy the story built around it. I approached the story looking for the typical three-act structure, which sometimes felt like there was one in there, but at other times I felt lost. Almost like the beginning of the Game of Thrones series where there is just too much information coming at me to decipher what is happening. Part of this feeling comes from the introduction to each character, without any context it was hard to tell whose point of view we are seeing the world as, was it about Mom(Sasha)/Alison, or Alison/Lincoln, etc. We are clued that this perspective is from Alison, but sometimes I felt like her voice wasn’t there, especially when you imagine the scenes with Lincoln. Looking for the catalyst moment that drives the story forward, there could be many, but the one that stands out to be is the introduction to pauses on page 13, where Alison first gives us a sample of Linc’s obsession over pauses.
As the dynamic of each of the characters comes to life more you begin to realize that the pauses are a reflection of something deeper, almost overlaying on top what the issues each of the family members endure. One theme that I thought about was that to Linc the pauses almost reflect his inability for him and his dad to connect. It’s as if Drew’s busy and stressful career isn’t giving him the needed time to see what Linc needs from him as a father. As if his talking about a song’s pause was a clue for that person to pause and take in what’s happening. And when the climax hits when his father blows up on him about the pauses it was a failure on both Linc and Drew to not pause and see each other.
Overall the pauses likely represent the changes that happen in each of the character’s life that sometimes cause them to come to a complete stop before restarting again to complete the journey. The character with the most change here is the father Drew, his arc ends with a bit of redemption.
The setup of the story is a bit hard to take in but at the same time enjoyable as if you can imagine things happening simultaneously which is a really cool effect in storytelling!