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Notes to self

October 20, 2008

Notes for proposed blog entry for John Barth’s Lost in the Funhouse (LITFH).  Refer to strange self-referential, fiction-that-investigates-fiction bit; discuss snarky, grinning Barth shining screwy curved mirrors in reader’s kaleidoscope eyes (see ref to High Sixties below) while sitting in tenured chair at Johns Hopkins…check that, he’s long since retired.  Recall nifty story (anecdotal probably apocryphal) about how he tangled with John Gardner back in the early ‘80s…yes, perhaps cite demise of experimental fiction, giving way to realism.  Or something. Yes, mention that.  Martone. Could do that in a footnote, but don’t know how to footnote on this blogsite.  Complain about lack of intuitive interface.  Ask Martone for clearance to “’quote’” or cite.

LITFH as remnant, artifact of swinging sixties.  Cite Barth 1987 intro to latest edition.  In the interest of ‘full disclosure’, reveal that anything having to do with the “High Sixties” (please note that “Italics are also employed, in fiction stories especially, for “out-side,” intrusive, or artificial voices, such as radio announcements, the texts of telegrams and newspaper articles, et cetera.  They should be used sparingly.  If passages originally in roman type are italicized by someone repeating them, it’s customary to acknowledge the fact, Italics mine.”) is swell thing.

‘Discuss “quotation marks.”  All those nested quotes, particularly in The Menelaiad get pretty crazy.  Who’s voice?  Who’s who?  No matter.  Must press on.  “On with the story.  On with the story.”’

Focus on LITFH story itself.  Note that after tale of swimming sperm (Night-Sea Journey)(could have been half the length for reader to get joke?) and oddball relatives involved in naming episode (Ambrose His Mark), LITFH is relief.  Note that have been to Ocean City, M.  Nice place.  Old memories dredged up.  Lost in souvenir shop.  But maybe not mention that, might “‘distract”’ from the vivid and continuous dream of blogging.  Check Gardner’s book for mention of that.  Italics Gardner’s.

Discuss Gardner’s metafiction and jazzing around section in Art of Fiction.  Well, maybe not discuss, but mention. Gardner says, “the appeal of metafiction may be almost entirely intellectual. If we laugh, we do not do so heartily, as when we laugh at or with an interesting lifelike character; we laugh thinly, with a feeling of slight superiority, as we laugh at wisecracks, or wit.”   Draw comparison to 12-tone music, e.g. Schoenberg, Webern, Boulez et al.  How long can you listen to it?  Listenable?  Readable?  Requires sense of intellectual duty? But there is something there.

Some exclamation of disagreement here. Inclination to defend crazy Barth and his clever jazz.  State that one purpose of lit is to provide pleasure bursts (epiphanies not always req.)  Can’t explain.

Note that Barth always comes right before Barthelme on bookstore shelves.

Close blog with quote from book.

‘“The reader!  You, dogged, uninsultable, print-oriented bastard, it’s you I’m addressing, who else, from inside this monstrous fiction.  You’ve read me this far, then?  Even this far?  For what discreditable motive?  How is it you don’t go to a movie, watch TV, stare at a wall…can nothing surfeit, saturate you, turn you off?  Where’s your shame?”’

Print-oriented bastard!  Back to the story.

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