Read an Interlude

See Also: The Basic Story, How the Ebook is Organized and an actual Interlude from ES 1.

(PS, Many apologies to Mr. Barth!)

Interlude: A Friendly Beheading

“I’ve never enjoyed books with frame stories,” Lisa said to me. “They are just a roundabout way for the author to insert editorial opinions.”

“That’s not totally unexpected,” I replied. “But at least it provides a kind of story break.”

We had stopped by MacDonald’s to eat something quick before a concert. Both of us had taken the same literature class at college and occasionally talked about book stuff in real life. In the Real World ™, people rarely talked about books at all, so having a “literary buddy” to exchange book thoughts was convenient and helpful. Lisa finished twice as many books as I did (and had twice as many opinions), so I tended to be her literary sounding board. Her book critiques were fussy or outlandish or annoying but always amusing. The fact she was pretty and charming had nothing to do with it.

“Nobody remembers a story frame when the stories are already interesting,” Lisa said. “Even Scheherazade and the sultan never had deep discussions; why would they?”

“It’s been a while since I read Arabian Nights,” I said. “If I recall, the story frame’s main purpose was to provide a little suspense. Would Scheherazade lose her head?”

“But did we really worry that Scheherazade might lose her head?” Lisa said. “Story frames should have to do more than that.”

“Like what?” I asked.

“I don’t know. Many things. Maybe the author could hint at character motivation. Or anticipate reader objections. Or maybe drop clues about what stories are supposed to mean.”

“Perhaps,” I said. “But that puts an extra burden on the author to be interesting. And didn’t John Barth write that the author was dead?”

“No, that was the other Barth.”

“Whatever. But surely you’re not implying that the best commentator for a work of fiction would be the author himself?!”

“Or herself,” Lisa said, smiling. “I guess it’s best for the flesh-and-blood author to shut up about their books and stop creating sock puppets to explain everything to the reader. Death to all sock puppets!”

“Agreed. And let readers supervise the beheadings – after first making sure that none of them are sock puppets themselves. Online it can be hard to tell the difference, you know.”

“Indeed,” Lisa said, pointing an imaginary gun at me and pulling the trigger.

Slumping in my chair, I tried valiantly to eat one more Chicken McNugget before succumbing to a untimely demise.

Existential Smut Ebook Cover. Art by Eugenia Loli