Abstract

Patricia Waugh, in Metafiction: the Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction,^ defines the metafictional novel in terms which are useful when considering Paulette Jiles' novel Sitting in the Club Car Drinking Rum and Karma-Kola {Club Car)} In simplest terms, metafiction is 'fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an arteface in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and realit/ (p. 2). Jiles invites her audience to take part in the very process of her writing. We, as readers, are aware that Jiles' text is artifice. She is self-conscious about that text, the process of writing it, and the manner in which it appears on the printed page in book form. I would suggest that the appeal of Club Car lies, not only in its playfulness and humour, but also in the premium Jiles places on the role of the reader. Jiles allows the reader the same freedom which, as author, she demands for herself. We are asked to contemplate that which is being presented and, consequently, Jiles challenges traditional notions of fiction, fictional representation, and the employment of stereotypes. Through this text, the playfulness of which knows no bounds, Jiles subverts traditional forms of narrative fiction dislodging the critical consciousness of her audience in the process. We are forced to think about what we are reading, the manner in which it is presented to us, and what we expect from it. In her discussion of 'frames and framebreaking', Waugh suggests that 'each metafictional novel is a fictional Mythologies which, like Roland Barthes' work, aims to unsettle our convictions about the relative status of 'truth' and 'fiction' (p. 34). Moreover, the kind of fictional playfulness which occurs in Club Car provides us with a means of re-evaluating what Waugh refers to as 'the traditional procedures of communication and allows release from established patterns' (p. 36). An analysis of Jiles' text will provide evidence of how the reader is made aware of its metafictionality and how the text, as metafiction, disrupts the psychological, cultural, and historical assumptions we bring to our reading of a fictional work.

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