I began writing critical fictions in 1993 out of a sense that an essay (at least one by me) could never rival in intensity the reading of writers I admired. So I came up with the idea of a cross between critical essay and narrative fiction, and called it “critical fiction.” I intend the term, which others have used, to describe a text that treats of the matters usually discussed in literary analysis, but uses narrative and poetic means, rather than expository ones. I see the critical fiction as providing for the reader a way of being simultaneously inside and outside an author’s work, inhabiting it and seeing its structure.
The publisher wrote:
“An original collection of 8 critical fictions on Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo, King Lear, Olaudah Equiano, Harry Mathews, The Iguana, and other writers and texts. The critical fiction is a literary mode that takes as its subject another literary work and treats of that work’s construction, obsessions, and sources in narrative and poetic, rather than expository/critical terms. Wendy Walker is one of the chief proponents of the critical fiction today; some of her predecessors include Jean Rhys, Jorge Luis Borges, Angela Carter, and Guy Davenport.”
Some of the pieces in My Man and Other Critical Fictions were first published in Conjunctions, The Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative American Poetry: 1994-5, Parnassus: Poetry in Review, 3rd Bed, Fantastic Metropolis, English Studies Forum and Proteotypes’ Libellulae Series.
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Critical Fiction Symposium:
Wendy Walker spoke about My Man and Other Critical Fictions at the Critical Fiction Symposium held at the Grolier Club. Read about the symposium on criticalfiction.net and listen to an audio recording documenting the event.
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Mixing collage and Burroughs-esque cut-up technique with traditional narrative, Walker…presents works that veer from the whimsically self-reflective to the fragmented and obscure. In ‘A Document from the Secret Archive of Grent Oude Wayl, Esquire,’ the language of the story becomes a landscape navigable by the inhabitants of the country it describes. ‘being nothing content’ alternates a historical account of King Lear with cut-and-pasted strings of words whose chaos reflects the turmoil of Lear’s personal drama. Similarly, ‘Hysterical Operators: The Inspector of Factories Visits the Lover of Melodrama’ intertwines linear and non-linear narrative strands that evoke the opposing personalities of the titular characters.
— David Auerbach, waggish.org