As I mentioned yesterday, I’m participating in Sparkfest this week and celebrating some of the books and authors that inspire my writing. This post is about meta-fiction and is apparently brought to you by excessive ellipses.
I love meta-literature and broken fourth walls, books about books, narrators who are well aware that they’re in a book, works that comment on themselves in creative ways... However you want to define meta-fiction, I'm a fan.
Every time I see it done well, it’s another spark for my writing and reading, a new realization about how texts can be connected and the bounds of narrative can be manipulated: Jasper Fforde’s series about the secret lives of book characters… the misleading stories-within-stories of Atwood’s The Blind Assassin…Lemony Snicket’s gradual transformation from what seemed to be just a pen name to a full-blown character within his own narrative… the characters in The Magicians who explore the reality behind a fictitious Narnia-esque series and explode conventions of the genre along the way… and my favorite film example, Robin Hood Men in Tights, in which characters argue over their scripts and accidentally run into the film crew during a sword fight.
It’s no coincidence that my favorite book for most of my childhood was The Neverending Story, which is about a boy who eventually enters the book that he’s reading (and that we’re reading along with him), blurring the line between the two. Ende even starts the book by cleverly manipulating text in a different way:
So many of my story ideas reflect my deep and enduring love for this book. It's not just the wordplay and storyplay (we'll just pretend that's a term) either; Bastian and his adventures are amazing and idea-inspiring all on their own. (The book is also so much better than the movie, no matter how catchy that theme song may be.) In fact, the more I think about it, the more I'm tempted to go reread The Neverending Story right after I finish this post...
But I realized that my love for meta-fiction goes back even earlier; I was reading a perfect example of it when I was incredibly young. It's a bestselling work of creative genius beloved by generations of readers, featuring a narrator aware of his book-bound existence and haunted by a terror that hints at an unknown self-loathing. It still resonates deeply with me today.
That’s right, I’m talking about Grover.
Meta-fiction and addressing the reader at their finest, brought to you by a lovable and furry monster.
What's your favorite
adorable monster meta-fiction? Or what book inspired your writing's style, genre, quirks, or tricks?