When Metafiction crosses over into the “real world”

One of my current works-in-progress is a Metafiction. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it is a literary device that draws attention to a work of fiction as an artifact, causing the relationship between reality and fiction. Two of the most well-known examples are The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne and The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth.

My work is called The Novel Titled ‘This is Not a Novel’,and it purports to be the fictional biography of a writer named H.B. Berlow by, strangely enough, a writer named H.B. Berlow. It then segues and criss-crosses with two other fictional biographies which may or may not be fictional. The whole purpose is to ask the question of how important it is to know of the history of a writer in order to appreciate his work. The mysterious life of writer B. Traven. who wrote The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, is a testament to this theme. He once said “The creative person should have no other biography than his works.”

Yet, even the notion of biography, autobiography, or memoir questions whether the information presented is factual and if it can be accurate. The nature of memory is always called into question. Police indicate that eyewitness testimony is less reliable than concrete facts. How can we possibly know the truth of anything if memory is not reliable enough?

The recent case of Brian Williams, a respected journalist and a man of integrity, causes us to reevaluate how events are created in the mind and then passed forward. Either Mr. Williams is a low-down and nefarious individual who, like most people on television, has an absolute need to be front and center in the spotlight…or, his memory is as suspect as anyone else on the planet.

I feel validated by the unfortunate series of events, knowing that my work-in-progress has a measure of basis in the real world. The irony is that my work of fiction that clouds the nature of reality should not so closely mirror that reality. Or should it?


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