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Reece Jordan

Reece Jordan

Email: reecejordan98@hotmail.co.uk

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About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.

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David Foster Wallace and Clichés pt. 5

David Foster Wallace and Clichés pt. 5

The narrative switch at the end of the story can be seen as an attempt by Wallace to highlight the importance of recognising this commonality between people. Brian McHale points out that a common feature of postmodern fiction is that it ‘tend[s] to encourage trompe-l’oeil, deliberately misleading the reader into regarding an embedded, secondary world as the primary, diegetic world. Typically, such deliberate ‘mystification’ is followed by ‘demystification,’ in which the true ontological status of the supposed ‘reality’ is revealed and the entire ontological structure of the text consequently laid bare’ Indeed, this is a device Wallace incorporates within “Good Old Neon”. We are told that what the narrative ‘really is, it turns out, is a matter of perspective,’ and the perspective we are really getting is ‘David Wallace[‘s]’, who is ‘trying, through the tiny little keyhole of himself to imagine what all must have happened to lead up to [Neal’s] death in the fiery single-car accident he’d read about in 1991 like what sorts of pains and problems might have driven the guy.’ Ergo, the narrative we have been following up until this point has been David Wallace’s conception of Neal - this is, in fact, the primary, diegetic world. This shift in narrative, coupled with Wallace seemingly breaking the fourth wall, allows for the story to have myriad interpretations with regards to clichés within the story. One of these is to see the previous narrative as an allegory for Wallace’s own conflict with regards to writing. Neal’s self-censorship in attempts to block out clichéd phrases and actions is analogous with the author’s anxieties in that he has ‘a tendency not only towards introspection but toward a terrible self-consciousness. Writing, you’re having to worry about your effect on the audience all the time […] You’re always trying to communicate in a unique way’ Indeed, this reading would support Lee Konstantinou’s assertion that ‘what readers were led to believe was fiction (and specifically postmodern metafiction) may in fact be a kind of meta-nonfiction… to cause the reader to form a connection with Wallace as a writer… not “David Wallace” the character, but the author.’ However, to read the story as a kind of non-fiction is to completely dismiss the fictitious elements constructed around David Wallace the character. Unlike David Foster Wallace, David Wallace went to Aurora West High School and unlike the author again, David Wallace played baseball.

 

Image Credits: npr.org

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