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Jennifer Egan, Lauren Oyler

interesting examples of metafiction

But that wasn’t Danny’s line, that was Howie’s. He was heading into memory number two, I might as well tell you that straight up, because how I’m supposed to get him in and out of all these memories in a smooth way so nobody notices all the coming and going I don’t know. Rafe went first with the flashlight, then Howie. Danny came last. They were all pretty punchy, Howie because his cousins had singled him out to sneak away from the picnic, Danny because there was no bigger thrill in the world than being Rafe’s partner in crime, and Rafe—well, the beautiful thing about Rafe was you never knew why he did anything.

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—p.11 by Jennifer Egan 1 year ago

Bottom line: Danny didn’t know why he’d come all this way to Howie’s castle. Why did I take a writing class? I thought it was to get away from my roommate, Davis, but I’m starting to think there was another reason under that.

You? Who the hell are you? That’s what someone must be saying right about now. Well, I’m the guy talking. Someone’s always doing the talking, just a lot of times you don’t know who it is or what their reasons are. My teacher, Holly, told me that.

I started the class with a bad attitude. For the second meeting I wrote a story about a guy who fucks his writing teacher in a broom closet until the door flies open and all the brooms and mops and buckets come crashing out and their bare asses are shining in the light and they both get busted. It got a lot of laughs while I was reading it, but when I stopped reading the room went quiet.

—p.17 by Jennifer Egan 1 year ago

Now wait a minute, someone’s got to be saying. Three pages ago Danny had been awake almost ten minutes, and now you’re telling us it’s forty-five? Are you kidding me? I could repeat everything they said on those three pages in five minutes tops, which means Danny should be awake seventeen minutes maximum. But hold on, bud, you’re forgetting two things: (1) Everything anyone said had to travel down a long tube to Danny’s brain, and so did his answers before they got to his mouth and (2) there were other things going on in the room that I didn’t write down because I would’ve needed pages and pages, which I don’t have, not to mention it would be boring as hell. Such as: Howard got up and poked at the fire. Nora shut the window. Howard scratched his head and blew his nose in a white handkerchief. Nora went into the hall to talk to someone and then came back. Howard’s walkie-talkie made a staticky noise so he had to fiddle with it to shut it up. Every one of those things adds time, to the point where if I’d told you an hour instead of forty-five minutes, even that would be realistic.

—p.124 by Jennifer Egan 1 year ago

I have dreams, oh shit. Drug dreams, those ones where the past slops all over the place like a backed-up line. Sometimes I’m at school. The other boys would steal your food if you didn’t steal theirs first. Howie couldn’t do it. When he first came in he says, I don’t want their food. I can’t eat that much. I just want my own food. And I tell him, Take it, man, or they’ll take yours and then you’ll starve. I’ve seen it happen. They bring in fat kids like you and the next thing you know they’re skeletons. They take ’em out in coffins and bury them in unmarked graves. And then I start to laugh. He’s so new, that sweet scared face. Everyone’s like that at first. But you stay in here long enough, you can laugh about anything.

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—p.176 by Jennifer Egan 1 year ago

The gun came from somewhere on Mick’s ankle. He was unbelievably fast.

Danny tried to lunge with his knife, but he was too late. He’d hardly moved when I fired at his forehead. He was looking at me when the bullet tore through, and I watched the light go out.

Why? That’s a reasonable question. You shoot someone in the head, you should have a reason. And what I’d like to do right now is make you a list, pile up the evidence piece by piece (things like: I actually thought for a second that he was going at Howard with the knife and I knew he’d tell Howard about Ann and me eventually and After fucking up Howard like he did when they were kids, I didn’t think he should get off so easy), so at the end of the list you’d say, Well of course he shot that asshole, and good thing—look at all these reasons! But I don’t have a list. I liked Danny. He reminded me of me.

—p.207 by Jennifer Egan 1 year ago

The stairs went on and on. The water pushed its way into Danny’s ears, his eyes, his lungs. But finally, near the earth’s molten core, the stairs ran out. When Danny looked up, the top of the pool was the size of a dime, a dime of blue sky. And then Danny saw a door (Phase Nine) and opened it. He was in a white hall. The water was gone. The walls were smooth, no windows or doors or decorations. All Danny saw was a gray-blue endpoint that looked like another door, and he walked down the hall toward that. It was a long walk, but when he finally got close to the door he realized it wasn’t a door, it was a window. Danny couldn’t see through it—the glass was foggy or dusty or maybe just warped. But when he got to the window and put his hand against it, the glass suddenly cleared (Phase Ten). I saw him standing there. And he saw me.

Where the fuck did you come from? I said.

Danny smiled. He said: You didn’t really think I was going to leave you alone?

He said: Haven’t you learned that the thing you want to forget most is the one that’ll never leave you?

He said: Let the haunting begin. And then he laughed.

He said: We’re twins. There’s no separating us.

He said: I hope you like to write.

And then he started to talk, whispering in my ear.

Underneath me, Davis lay on his tray with the orange radio pushed up against his head. His eyes were shut. He turned the knobs, listening.

—p.208 by Jennifer Egan 1 year ago

WHAT’S AMAZING ABOUT THIS STRUCTURE IS THAT YOU CAN JUST dump any material you have in here and leave it up to the reader to connect it to the rest of the work. I was going to cut that dog story, but why should I? It evokes a mood. It relates to my themes. When I saw it happen it was somehow incredible; I was watching earned self-consciousness mutate into unearned self-preservation in real time, something I usually only saw online, where it was easier for the unbelievable to remain that way.

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—p.180 by Lauren Oyler 1 year ago