Monday, September 13, 2010

Does having the narrator's thoughts included enhance the piece?

While, I think we can come to a general consensus that reading Double or Nothing can be troublesome because it is a fairly atypical book, I have found it rather interesting to be able to read the narrator’s thoughts as he writes the story of the young man—or is just thinking about preparing to write the story. Perhaps it is because sometimes when I am reading more traditional forms of literature, I think about what the author might be going through at the time—and while I know that the narrator is not Federman, I still find it rather interesting. I mean, surely you know that when you write—whether it is a poem, short story, or even an essay for a class—you aren’t only thinking about the task at hand. I will think about the fact that I have to go to work later that evening, the song that is playing, or that I need to call my friend back—a number of things really. But, what does this do to Double or Nothing? Does it enhance the piece? If you don’t think it does, is it because you aren’t used to this kind of writing, or is it honestly just useless? Clearly, Federman thought it was worth writing since he put so much effort into creating it, but would you write like this? Hopefully, the majority of your pondering wouldn’t be about noodles or toothpaste, but is what you’re thinking about at the time important to the piece? Do you think if Emily Bronte (actual Bronte—not some narrator she created) wrote down what she was thinking about as she wrote Wuthering Heights that your appreciation of the piece would be enhanced? Do you even care? How does the presence of the narrator influence your reading of Double or Nothing?


  1. For me personally, Double or Nothing is just a piece of writing that depicts the stream of consciousness from our narrator. The narrator doesn't seem to hide whatever is on his mind and he shows no real organization in his thoughts. Because his thoughts are so discursive and have very little punctuation, it is rather difficult determining the real importance of his thinking. However, the frivolity of the plot may be just what the author wants. By making the textual content seem unimportant, we have to look at the aesthetics. If Bronte wrote down everything she was thinking about as she wrote Wuthering Heights, I really don't think my appreciate would be enhanced. In fact, I think knowing all her thoughts may actually deter me from appreciating the novel itself.

  2. I think in a certain sense the fact that we see the narrator's thoughts adds to the piece - at least in the sense that it does create a sort of meaning within the work. It seems to, at least, imply things about the narrator and his history.

    However, I think that in, as you suggested, a Bronte novel to know the author's thoughts would actually take away from the piece. To know what an author such as Bronte was thinking would be to know all of her purposes and thoughts behind writing the novel - and often not knowing these things is important because it actually requires us to think more deeply about the novel. Being required to wonder and to guess, realizing that you might never actually know why an author did something or his/her exact thoughts when creating a work of fiction can, I think, often teach us more.

    I guess the stream of thought type of form works fairly well for Double or Nothing, but I'm not sure if I'd want that form applied to other novels, etc.

  3. The stream of consciousness form that Federman writes in isn't all too confusing for me. I can handle the incessant use of noodles or lists. However, I can't help but feel this detracts from this kind or any novel. The relative unimportance of the words seems to leave the work more devoid of meaning than others. Like I said, it is not because I cannot follow his writing, having read other experimental works in the past (not surfiction. Sorry Federman, you can call a square a circle but it's still a square). Perhaps he means to show content is meaningless and that the novel must move elsewhere, but please, show me a direction I can get behind, not noodles, noodles, noodles.