Sunday, December 18, 2011

On "He Tells Her a Story" by James Fleming (4000 words) ****

So Fleming borrows a style from Stephen Dixon, whose work is often fascinating but also often grating. He likes to go off on digressions, but not in the sense that one might go off in digressions of thought but rather digressions of dialogue. Dixon's Interstate is one of the more successful works of this nature.

Here, Fleming does something that I have tried to do--and failed at doing. He tells a story about the struggle with telling a story. In Fleming's hands, this is actually a fun and humorous piece. One story starts, but it's not good enough or the listener has already heard it or the listener doesn't want that kind of story, and there's this constant back and forth about what a story really is and how one manages to to tell one. In a sense, we're watching a story get written as we're listening to this story. So there's a story within a story about telling a story, only is that story within a story really a story? That's open to question. What is a story? Read the story here at Failbetter. (A word of caution in case this isn't your kind of thing: this story contains a lot of talk about sex.)

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