I have been struggling with finding a way of binding the two central characters' narratives in my novel, to write them in such a way that re-enforces the story, but demonstrates their uniqueness as characters – a task made more difficult by the fact the novel is in written in first-person POV.
So I dug out all the books that I wished I'd written – One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Great Gatsby, Fight Club – and it was something that Chuck Palahniuk said in his preface to my edition of Fight Club that started me thinking toward the solution to my problem.
Chuck basically said he felt he was writing a modern-day Great Gatsby, that he considered The Great Gatsby and Fight Club to be 'apostolic' fiction, where a prophet writes about an admired character, producing a gospel if you like about that character's life – and I realised this is essentially what is happening in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest too.
And then I began to see a way into solving my problem – the two character narratives did not have to be distinct, I could introduce an apostolic element, whereby Jack, my main character, talks about Anson, the man who comes to have such an immense impact on his life within his own narrative. It would require a slight splicing of time-lines, but it would solve the problem, without necessarily breaking the more classic narrative of the main story.
I couldn't sleep that night thinking about it, and the next day I rewrote the opening chapter – and I love it. Thanks Chuck, and here's to apostolic fiction.