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>What’s with all the flashbacks?

>I wish I could find this great example Florence King gave of a sentence filled with clauses and “had”s and “had had”s that indicated that an author “had failed to begin her story far enough back in time.” Flashbacks are ruining my prime-time experience. Lost, Heroes, Damages, even Without a Trace–it seems like they can’t go ten minutes without the words “seven years earlier” appearing as a title card on the screen. I think what bothers me the most is that it’s supposed to look like fancy sleight-of-hand po-mo storytelling when it only increases my suspicion that they are making it up as they go along, and going back to patch up inconvenient inconsistencies. Thank God for 24.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. >Except, 24 did a total retcon with Tony being alive. So even tho we didn’t see the “x years ago” when Tony was fake-dead, it’s just as “make it up as we go along.” Next thing we know, Teri won’t be dead either.

  2. Roger Sutton says:

    >I still miss Mrs. Kiefer.

  3. >I’ve been having the same problem, but pre-mo, not po-mo.
    In Doctor Thorne, Trollope managed to completely suck the life out of his story with constant time-jumping both for and back.

    I think his problem may have been the lack of a word-processor.

  4. Monica Edinger says:

    >But then there is Desperate Housewives that just zipped five years into the future this season. (Oh, forgot that I’m probably the only person left alive still watching.)

  5. Roger Sutton says:

    >Monica, I like the way Mad Men did that, leaving a gap of a couple of years between seasons and encouraging the viewer to figure out what happened in the meantime. And it’s all still going in one direction!

  6. >Zip ahead for the win: the final season of China Beach, which repeatedly jumped back and forth in the timeline from Vietnam to the (then) present day, showing how various of the characters from the first 2 seasons did (and did not) adjust to life after the war. I wish more TV didn’t follow the linear TV year.

  7. Roger Sutton says:

    >I like this comment from i09 about why Matt on Heroes has developed the superpower of being able to draw the future: “He can draw the future because its a crutch that the writers use when they are too lazy to come up with other ways to build up tension and create a mystery.”

  8. >The flashes on Damages and LOST don’t bother me because those shows/stories were set up with that as a part of the structure of the storytelling to begin with…it’s not just the story we love but the way it’s being told.

    Heroes? Haven’t watched since the season opener. Haven’t seen Without a Trace in years!

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