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Granta’s Best

In response to:

O Ye Laurels from the August 8, 1996 issue

To the Editors:

I’ll take it as a compliment that David Lodge [NYR, August 8] didn’t recognize my section from Dear Stephen King as metafiction. As John Gardner loved to say, we only call fiction experimental when it fails.

I’d also like to assure him that the book is filled with “obscenity, scatology, violence, sexual perversion, alcoholism and drug addiction, black humor, and opaque slang.” The mythic subtext is the American road killer movie, from Bonnie and Clyde to Pulp Fiction, and throughout, our narrator Marjorie indulges in overt intertextuality, merging her own life with those of King’s characters.

Still, David Lodge may be right to call it realist. It deals, finally, with the real emotions of a real person, something the more academic or experimental metafiction couldn’t quite do, entertaining as it was. But the form of Dear Stephen King is plainly metafictional. Sorry if it puts a dent in his thesis. As for the question of suppression, it will be published as The Speed Queen next April, I hope.

Stewart O’Nan
Avon, Connecticut

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