I had an idea for a story. It would be centered on a single character and his life, but each chapter would be told from the perspective of another person, a close friend in childhood, a work associate in his older years. An obligatory chapter with a passing love. Momentary bits of revelation as each is premised on how little we know about the man's inner life. A few misunderstandings to create some levity.
The passages I've already envisioned and that come to mind as easily involve the people more immediate to him — a sister, a classmate at his prep school, a drinking buddy from work. I noticed his demeanor. He preferred to ask a lot of questions. He had an affinity for drink. Every week he'd made a habit of... These are the kinds of relationships I categorize as having some significance with regard to a cultural touchstone — even if I'd never had a “drinking buddy” of my own, I had seen enough movies or read enough books to carve out a certain articulation.
I've given it some thought and I think the more interesting and maybe even subversive exercise would be writing in the voice of someone heretofore unknown to the man in such a way, a barista at his favorite coffeeshop, a client he sees every few months at a yearly convention. People interacted with so sparsely and in so particular an output. To be wrested from any kind of expectation because the focus is both so specific, as the reader would base their reading experience on the interplay between how much information they have already gathered of the man, and how much new information they are learning is to be taken at face value given how constrained the setting, and so grandiose because I would in a way be allowed to write almost anything.
I look back so often on the period of time when I first met some of the people who would persist in my life. There's a sort of old wisdom among academics that I hear so often that says that there's a latent power relation in feeling the need to think about and address how others see you, in any stage of a relationship, whether as strangers or lovers.
But it's always been more interesting for me to see myself through the eyes of another person. Especially whenever I think of all the things as possible to come to pass between us.