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Five Fictions About Fiction

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Joshua Gaylord


Sometimes metafiction gets a bad rap, because it can steal from the reader that feeling of getting lost in the narrative. All the time I hear people talk about how wonderful it is to forget they are consuming art. “That movie was so good, I forgot I was sitting in the theater!” “I was so engrossed in the book that I missed my stop on the subway!” I suppose what these readers admire about storytelling is its capacity to blend into real life, to erase the line between fiction and reality. But I’m not one of those readers. I like art because it’s art—because it’s different from reality—because it’s (all right, I’ll say it) better than reality. I don’t want my art merging seamlessly with my quotidian life. I like being constantly aware that I’m sitting in a theater watching a movie or holding a book in my hands, turning pages. I’m also one of those people who would rather see how magic tricks are done. I’d rather take a Disney ride with all the lights on, so I can see how the audioanimatronics actually work. I’m a writer, and the reason I’m a writer is because I’m in love with the mechanisms behind the stories. So here are five fictions that won’t let you forget that you’re reading a story—because they’re all about how stories are made.

About the Author

Joshua Gaylord

Joshua Gaylord graduated from NYU with a Ph.D. in twentieth-century American and British literature, specializing in postmodernism and narrative theory. He has taught courses in literature and film at NYU, the New School and the Ramaz Upper School. He is the author of four novels, the most recent of which, When We Were Animals, was published by Mulholland Books in April 2015.