"Short Stories and 'A Colouring Book of Words'"
James, Alex Owen
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This dissertation is an examination into the form of the short story, its functions, limitations and merits, as well as a critical reflective essay. Contained within, are three pieces of short fiction, and though they are not implicitly linked, they do contain similar themes and narrative styles. Each written in the first person and all revolve around the theme of personal crises, the dysfunctional world that the characters inhabit is partially an autobiographical one, with a style that is reminiscent of the minimalist writing of authors such as Raymond Carver, or Cormac McCarthy. The major themes of the works include; solipsism, loss and relationships. Though the stories are not plot-driven, the sparse narration encompasses fleeting moments, for example, a short holiday that a couple take together in hope of escape. Each story contains a sentimental or poignant experience for the characters. Although, in opposition to Joyce’s ‘epiphany’, the characters contained in these works are trapped in their lives and partially unconscious of their failings. In the critical section of this dissertation I explore some of the surrounding theories and ideas that have motivated my writing; this includes discussions on topics such as the merits and limitations of first person narrative, alternative narrations, and in particular the importance of self-editing. Included too, is critical response to pioneers and theorists, of the medium of the short story, pioneers including Chekhov, Carver and Hemingway who have each had an impact on the way I approach writing as a whole. The title; ‘A Colouring Book of Words’ refers to the idea of a wider context to the story, Hemingway’s iceberg theory, and the concept of minimalism as a whole.
Dissertation by Alex Owen James for the BA English & Creative Writing course, submitted May 2012.
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