When I first began reading meta-fiction I thought “oh cool” or “how convenient”: the author’s juxtaposition into his own work seemed like a good concept but it didn’t really click.
Then I went to visit my ‘family’ in San Diego. I say ‘family’ because I don’t want to suggest brothers and sisters (I have none of either), but only aunts and uncles and such. My father wasn’t keen on attending, and since Claremont is closer to Solana Beach than Albuquerque, I would represent the THL lineage this time (I am the VII, dad the VI, so on..) I like these semi-reunions because they are always filled with aunt/uncle drama (most of which is irrelevant to me) to the point of which the cousins (I am one) can fly under the radar and do what we please. This occasion was particularly interesting because I honed in on some specific information about my forefathers. It seemed my Great-grandfather (THL IV) was a liked man and my grandfather(THL V) was not. These points seemed to be emphasized to the point of insanity and by the end of my weekend my head was bursting with familial data.
The first thing I did was call my father. He too knows how taxing these semi-reunions are and enjoys hearing the shenanigans through a speaker 600 miles away. To be frank he almost instantly cleared the b/s up for me. I know my father, he knows me, and we are very close. Not only personally are we close, but politically as well (politics beyond red and blue) and where we might disagree, we would know why. Nothing is hidden from me by him and this makes his stories very easy to understand (for me).
This made me realize, that in my life as a fiction created my father, these meta-fictional references (albeit a phone call here) are not merely for sport but are imperative. My call to my father helped me clear up all of the b/s fictionalizations or interpretations to get down to the good stuff, the real life problems. This is what DFW does so well. In “Octet” the ninth pop-quiz provides the motive for the entire piece. He’s helping, he doesn’t need the reader to wonder why there are 5 pieces in the octet or why PQ6 doesn’t resolve. He can give us the answers to these questions , and help us get down to the questions he really wants us to answer. This meta-fictional story structure shows the meta-fictional qualities of life. That in life there can be pages and pages of mixed feelings and unsaid words that mean nothing unless we’re guided through. DFW gives a voice thats strong enough to tell us what he thinks is b/s and what we should really focus on. Do we believe him?