Saturday, March 22, 2008


Meta(fiction) Manos!

I haven't taken many photos recently, so I'll have to make do with one from two months ago, showing me on the way to Albarracin. So impressed was I with that part of Spain that I've sent my fictional character Don Cosquillas there to have an adventure or two. My Don Cosquillas series of tales has started to turn into a proper novel called The Pilgrim's Regress and I'm delighted with its progress so far.

I'm playing with a technique B.S. Johnson used, namely anticipating the reactions of potential reviewers and pre-empting their criticisms in the text itself. In other words the text is not only a work of fiction but a criticial commentary on itself. The trick is to make these two aspects work together positively, the plot and its justification reinforcing each other. This might be seen as a rather smug and/or defensive way to write but hopefully the vibrancy of the story itself will be the dominant factor of the work.

It's going to be a highly metafictional novel, featuring author intrusion, the reader as a character, an awareness by the fictional protagonists that they are unreal, etc... People who don't like metafiction will never be charmed by it, but I'm totally at odds with the notion that chronic self-referentiality or acute self-awareness necessarily lessens any emotional impact. On the contrary, metafiction can create a stronger connectivity with the real world (and thus with real emotions) than ordinary fiction for a number of reasons, including the simple fact that standard fiction exists entirely in an hermetically sealed world that only parallels reality while claiming to be real, whereas metafiction is openly aware of our reality, our timeframe. Fiction is a game: one of the rules of the game is that you must never acknowledge this fact. Metafiction plays games with those rules. It's more honest and more clever: a disturbing combination!

I could babble on about metafiction all day... I won't. Different topic: I might be travelling to Portugal at the end of April to give a reading at a conference themed around ‘Writers and Travel’. The conference is taking place in Matosinhos, a town near Porto. I'm really looking forward to going back! Here in Swansea I haven't done much of interest. I went to Three Cliffs Bay with Filiz on Thursday: it was nice but windy! Living with Turkish people means constantly delicious food and incomprehensible soap operas on satellite television. I'm happy! Another good thing: Stuart Ross has started blogging again after too many months of silence.

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