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Sypult, Sharron
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Middle Tennessee State University
Post-modernism, metafiction, anti-fiction--whatever it may be called--is the offspring of a turbulent time (the sixties) when language and literature seemed "exhausted" and fictional possibilities seemed limited. Such fiction has had to be radical to survive in the face of an intimidating past, bankrupt literary forms, and constricting literary conventions. In Medley I set out to investigate and examine this fictive phenomenon and present my findings in a fictional demonstration. By way of introduction, I first discuss what I call "Brand X" fiction and its modus operandi; parody as a creative/critical mode and its prominence in this fiction; and my own use of parody and its critical implications.
The rest of this work consists of six parodies, six stylistic impersonations of established American writers whose distinctive styles make possible my illustrations of traditional aspects of fiction. "Alpha and Omega" parodies John Barth and introduces the story while underscoring setting and exposition. Various characters address the reader in my parody of William Faulkner, "Yawpatucka," thereby emphasizing point of view and characterization. Complications and thematic concerns abound in "Publish-or-Perish House," a parody of Kurt Vonnegut. The Woody Allen parody, "Featherless," is filled with hopelessness and absurdity, reenforcing the atmosphere. Dialogue and action predominate in the parody of Ernest Hemingway, "The Sun Always Rises." The anticipated point is finally reached in my parody of Joseph Heller, "The System," thus resolving the story and focusing attention on climax and resolution. Not only are formal concerns of fiction writing illustrated along the way, but the stylistic juxtapositions make artistic comparisons possible throughout. Additionally, the replay of such well-known styles is like a medley of old songs, familiar yet novel.
Medley, like "Brand X" fiction, meshes the critical and creative, fact and fiction, serious and comic, demanding much of the reader, but incorporating the old to produce the new.