I have returned, sun burnt and happy, with a touch more rowing experience and hair that is far less frizzy than I expected.
I seem to have left epics behind with the cord grass (well, I did pick up a copy of El Cid at a used bookstore during my vacation. Finds like that make me all warm and fuzzy! But I haven't read it yet, so I can't post my impressions.) and turned my attention back to mid grade books and something interesting I've noticed about narration.
I was re-reading 101 Dalmatians (I know -a winter story in the middle of July. I had my air-conditioner on so I didn't break the mood too badly.) when I noticed how very present the narrator is in the story. She tells us a great deal about how dogs see their people, and the society of the time. The Rescuers is the same. The author isn't afraid to skip in and tell us things. It's like she never heard that old `show don't tell' rule. And the thing is, the style really works in both cases. The books are witty and fun and a lot of that is because the narrator makes all sorts of wry observations about the characters.
There's been a push in recent times to go with a `just the facts' type of writing and let the readers make up their minds about the characters, and for a lot of stories that style works really well. But other stories need an omniscient narrator who isn't afraid to hop in now and then and give his opinion. (Can you imagine The Princess Bride without all the asides? Or Lemony Snicket's books?) When it comes to style, there are a lot of options. It's important not to forget that when you sit down at your keyboard.