Short Story

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Sean B. Palmer

Apr 18, 2010, 6:27:18 PM4/18/10
to Gallimaufry of Whits
He knew from the outset that it was a novel. John was a smart lad, one
of the jet set, and he knew just where things were coming from. "The
fact that it starts with a personal pronoun," he muttered to himself,
"and a past tense verb. It has to be, I'm quite certain of it!" He had
seen it all before. The generic name, the useless descriptions, the
fact that the story started half way through the completely
nondescript action. This was a novel, John was right. But did he ever
suspect that he was both actor and spectator?

John paused for a moment, before reading the next paragraph. The first
paragraph had made him almost retch in frenzied horror, as he saw the
fourth wall being broken down in front of his very eyes. Not just his
eyes, but in fact his very eyes. Not only was this a novel, but... Was
it postmodern? Was it satire? The second paragraph introduced more
questions than the first, he felt, and was perhaps intended to
philosophically aggrandise the status of the author in the eyes of the
reader. It didn't succeed.

John felt by now that clearly had to be reading the book of his own
actions in order to make the postmodernist satire work. But now he
considered whether the tone of the story could be changed. "We can
start with that pesky pronoun, and change it from the third to the
first person plural. You thought that the fourth wall was bad enough,
but perhaps you didn't realise that there is another wall, a stylistic
wall, here!" Who was he even talking to? Did he think that by uttering
the magic pronouns out loud he would somehow break enough of the story
to be set free?

The narrator knew John, and started talking about himself in the third
person. This added an extra layer of complexity to the already
somewhat peculiar action. Did he know John in the physical sense of
John being a friend and having collaborated on the story with him? Or
was it the more metaphorical sense of knowing him because, in a sense,
the author of a work must also be the writer and the first reader of a
work also?

John was getting very tired of cliché, and perhaps the narrator was
too. John mused some more thoughts out loud, and the narrator caught
some glimpses of John's internal thought trains. One was something
like the idea that if the narrator had been third personed, did that
mean that the narrator had been replaced? And would that mean that the
narrator did not in fact exist at all, but was a plot decoy all along?
In other words, was the first narrator of the novel simply a dummy,
only to be replaced at some later point by the real narrator? But if
that be the case, mused the ever more baffled John, then how can we
trust any narrator?

John was a smart lad, one of the jet set. He knew that sometimes
authors repeat things from earlier on in the novel to make them sound
more piquant, a device which works especially well the more trite the
original statement. He was just that smart. He was one of the jet set,
and nobody could unset him from his jetted set. "Perhaps," he
pondered, mused, dictated, and otherwise traced in sound patterns
through the atmosphere, "perhaps like mime artists and impressionists,
we don't actually realise how horrible fiction can be until we see it
lampooned from within?"

At that moment, sensing that the ostensibly ominous but actually
hilarious ending that makes no sense was about to arrive, John
realised that he walks among us.

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Noah Slater

Apr 18, 2010, 6:37:09 PM4/18/10
to, Gallimaufry of Whits
Fucking awesome.


Apr 19, 2010, 2:06:34 AM4/19/10
Made me think of Stranger than Fiction:

Good stuff.

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