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The Story of My Story

By Bob Woodiwiss · July 26th, 2006 · Estrangement in a Strange Land
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My story begins with a possessive. From there, it twists, through a series of dependent and independent clauses, as well as parentheticals (unavoidable in the course of a discursive narrative such as mine), asides -- yes, dammit, asides! -- and various other bits of, if not unnecessary, then unnecessarily distracting, syntactical floridity and puncutational (?) superfluity (!!!), to become, I think you'll agree, if you're the agreeing type, more work than anticipated but, let's be honest, less work than actual work. And by story's conclusion? No verbs.

As for the genesis of/inspiration for the above referenced work of fiction -- i.e., my story -- I would suggest it derives from several sources. Specifically, it is drawn from my vast personal experience and from an imagination so vivid as to be clichéd; also from the collective, universal human condition and consciousness, from contemporary world events as conveyed by Elizabeth Vargas, from betrayed confidences and eavesdropped conversations, from cadged medical charts of unsuspecting hospitalized loved ones as well as their roommates, from the overarching ideas and specific phrases of obscure authors too dead to sue or too trusting for their own good and, of course, from Göd (not affiliated with God® or His subsidiaries). The climax, the ending of my story, however, eschews these sources and is drawn entirely, I freely acknowledge, from out of my ass.

Bringing us face to face with this oft-overlooked fact: A story, if, indeed, it is to be considered objectively, legitimately, legally a story, must have a story. That is, it must have a plot. And as it regards the story thus far described (read: my story) there's enough plot, frankly, to make one plotz. Yes, contained within this chronicle is a veritable Grand Guignol of a roman à clef chockablock with all the Sturm und Drang of the zeitgeist. It is, undeniably, an apocryphal tale that will, to the discerning reader, seem all too pocryphal.

Synopsistically speaking, my story is one of power, money, sex, politics, death, drugs, intrigue, illness, pride, greed, envy, gluttony, sloth, the refined handling and road manners of the 2006 Buick Lucerne and the high-stakes-but-even-higher-fashion world of Hollywood hermeneutics as they are simultaneously, recklessly, calamitously pursued by two rival patricidal matriarchies, all unfolding over the span of 64 decades, ergo, playing out against the backdrop of Darwinian evolution and, in the end, confronting the question: Where, precisely, does one call home in a time of continental drift?

As for the dramatis personae, my story's protagonist, K., is a dyslexic water out of fish, a man searching not only for the meaning of life but, more immediately, for the meaning of lfie.

In this quest, he is helped and hindered by a host of allegorical characters each so tedious and two-dimensional they could be family. As for speculation regarding which character is autobiographical, let it end here: I am the fly on the wall (page 14).

But the sophisticated reader would be ill-advised to assume that because I've included the conventions of plot and characters that this (my!) story is conventional. Or mainstream. Or, especially, accessible. Hardly.

By arranging my story's actions and events in a non-linear manner, as well as relegating all exposition to flashbacks in the voice of K. in utero, literary texture and aesthetic integrity (not to mention amniotic ambiguity) is maintained and sustained. And while the ostensibly wooly, circuitously random structure I've chosen to employ in my story might, at first, strike some as incomprehensible, it is not; rather, it is experimental. (The difference between the incomprehensible and the experimental is that the incomprehensible has no explicatory treatise or similar supporting documentation. For a more academically analytical and imposingly footnoted explication of the origins of and keys to my neo-post-transparent prose, see this essay's show-offishly lexiphanic companion piece "The Story of My Story's Story" in the current Kenyon Review.)

From the opening word (a pronoun, if memory serves), the inaccessibility of this tale adds an overall air of alienation that has the functional effect of forging a bond of isolation, as it were, between artist (me) and artee (you).

Too, the subtext of my story should not be overlooked or under-understood. And neither will it never not necessarily be. No. At certain points the reader will instantly, instinctively recognize the subtext because it is the part of the narrative that seems as incongruous as a red balloon and which forces one to reread sentences and paragraphs in an effort to fully grasp the funicular. More obscurely, throughout the text there are far less obtrusive allusions to landmark and/or abstruse works of literature one might or might not have read and might or might not have picked up on their subtexts, but that, if you're a holder of an advanced degree in English Lit, will make you feel smug and smart and glad your own books don't sell well because that would mean you're pandering to morons who don't hold advanced degrees in English Lit. Less educated readers who, upon finishing my story, find the subtext has eluded them should ask themselves one question: Did that fuckwad just call me less educated?

Finally, the ending to my story does not wrap up, clear up, summarize, moralize, encapsulate, indicate, explicate, reveal or resolve. It is open, nebulous, ambiguous, less a cherry on top than an unnamed fruit in an undisclosed location.

And it ends that way because this is more like life. Which is probably what most readers are looking for a break from. Damn. Sorry.



CONTACT BOB WOODIWISS: bwoodiwiss(at)citybeat.com. His column appears here the last issue of each month. His book, Keys to Uncomfortable Living, a collection of humorous and satirical essays, is in bookstores now.
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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