I picked up Brad Leithauser's new novel The Art Student's War the other day and have read the first chapter and a half. The first chapter is a tour de force, even if it begins in the present tense, something I often find irritating in fiction. But Leithauser makes a brilliant transition to the past tense:
Everything changes—as it so often does—the moment she climbs down from the enclosure of the streetcar; time itself shifts, shifted. When, in the open air, she spoke the words once more, Bea felt a renewed sense of wistful impoverishment: "He didn't even hear me thank him." This time the phrase sounded dry and matter-of-fact, as though the soldier really did belong to the past tense and their story were over.
I did not notice the shift of "shifts, shifted" until the reference to the past tense at the end of the paragraph.
Here's a whole nother point: in the second chapter, a character says, "I have a whole nother thermos." Is that use of "a whole nother" old enough to have been used in 1943? (Which is when the opening scenes take place.) As my friend Dan once said, "What is the status of the word 'nother'?"