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Literary Stalker, Metacrime and Metafilm

Guest post for The Haunted Reading Room, which travels the meta-road from highbrow Borges and Martin Amis to the popular culture of Wes Craven’s Scream series and Joe Hill’s stories, relating it to the writing of Literary Stalker. Thanks to Mallory Heart for hosting.


 

Though Literary Stalker is primarily a psychological crime/horror novel about revenge, another important aspect is the metafictional dimension, the nested novels-within-novels and the self-conscious play with the different levels of the ‘real’ and ‘fictional’. When I mention a word like ‘metafiction’ I can almost hear the groans of some readers, expecting to get a lecture on highbrow postmodernist writing of the kind practised by Borges, Nabokov, John Barth, Doris Lessing and Martin Amis…to name but a few. Or on films by the likes of Fellini and Truffaut. Yes, all that self-referential deconstructionist stuff hardly conjures up a vision of a fluent entertaining read or watch, but still the principles of metafiction have filtered down into the mainstream somewhat, and have also reached works of popular culture.

Read more on The Haunted Reading Room

 

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Roger Keen on Metacrime and Metahorror

November 13, 2017 Leave a comment

My colleagues at Darkness Visible have conducted this with interview with me, concentrating on the metafictional aspects of Literary Stalker and also touching on the broader aspects of ‘self-knowing’ fictionality in film and literature, citing some of my favourite examples:


 

Roger’s new novel Literary Stalker is a psychological crime thriller with horror overtones, but it’s also metafictional – that is, it has self-awareness about its fictionality – and Roger has used the terms ‘metacrime’ and ‘metahorror’ to describe this tendency within the genres the novel occupies. So, we thought we’d ask him explain a little bit more deeply about what he means, and give us some other examples.

Darkness Visible: Literary Stalker involves Nick, a writer who is composing a novel about revenge murders. Is it this layering of novels-within-novels that gives rise to the meta dimension you talk about? And how is this different from a novel taking place in the real world, as oppose to a fantasy, for example?

Roger: Yes, the layering is part of it, certainly, but only one aspect. And Nick indeed does inhabit the ‘real world’, but that ‘reality’ is constantly being called into question by what he does and thinks. As an ‘unreliable narrator’ Nick is in a league of his own! He’s writing his novel – The Facebook Murders – where the characters are effectively his real enemies (he even keeps the same names for the purposes of a first draft), and he gets his alter ego narrator, Jago, to murder them in stylised ways, as in the movie Theatre of Blood.

So his novel is a projection of his wishes, a realisation of the revenge he desires in real life. And as the story progresses, the lines blur, fiction and reality interchange, as Nick is progressively ‘taken over’ by his novel. Which is a very ‘horror’ idea, but because it’s ‘psychological’ rather than ‘supernatural’, it still retains ‘real world’ integrity – at least for most of the time. But throughout there are these ‘nudge-wink’ moments, and towards the end the metafictional undermining and rug-pulling gets stronger, till the twists at the climax which leave you wondering what exactly is ‘real’ and what isn’t.

Read more on Medium.

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