Another Pioneer – Story Review

A story of a story of a story of a…well, you get the idea. A long meandering thing without paragraphs, it relates a story that is closer to myth about a child prodigy who rises to prominence in a small jungle village only to have the people eventually turn and leave him behind as they burn their own village to the ground and move on to a new place.

Honestly, I’m not sure that matters at all. What might really matter in this story is Wallace tinkering with the idea of a narrator and the narrator’s reliability. Right from the opening lines where the narrator admits he only heard the story told once and this instance was on an airline by a passanger sitting in front of him who was relaying this story to another person. So the story had already been through the telephone a couple of times before finding its way to our narrator who also adds his own tics and touches throughout.

At some point the obvius connectin between the narrator in the story and the actual writer of The Story (in this case, Wallace) has to be considered. By setting up an obviously less than reliable narrator what could Wallace be attempting to convey about writing in general and possibly his writing in particular? From the few interviews I have seen of Wallace, it seems he does not have much faith in there being some sort of connection between the writer and his readers or that the readers are at all likely to cull from a work and consider important what the writer believes has been worked in as integral parts of the work and which should be considered important.  Where this usually comes up with Wallace in his interviews is when the conversation turns to him being a “funny” writer and how often things that readers find blindingly funny he inserted in all seriousness and never truly considered the possibility that they would be funny until getting response from his readers.

So who is to say that anything I (or anyone) culls from a Wallace (or anyone else’s) work has anything to do with what the writer may have intended? Or that maybe the writer is just as oblivious and lost in knowing what is being written as the reader is when reading it.

It is strangely conceivable that Wallace’s considers the possibility that authors themselves lack any real knowledge or perception of what they are creating, instead just reading into their own work ideas that are mere reflections of what they want to read into it. After all, the question is often raised and just as often skirted of where a writer conceives of his idea, as if it was something inseminated into his mind where it gestated before being birthed a few months later. And for how disdainfully writers treat this question, few if any ever truly answer it. Perhaps there is a sort of inner telephone game that goes on as the writer constructs his own narrative, getting the story second or third hand from disjointed thoughts that somehow come together to form a coherent whole.

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