This dissertation consists of a critical essay and a collection of short fiction. The essay discusses how testing the structures of authority is a central component in the signature novels of Jack Kerouac and John Barth. This is visible in both narrative structure and content. As the road becomes the embodiment of Kerouac’s rebellion against a social order that ultimately leads to a disintegration of the family, stories that highlight their own artificiality become Barth’s protest against a literature exhausted by its realist devices. In content (Kerouac) and in form (Barth), both authors seek redemption—a new purpose. But behind every failure stands the figure of the Father/Author. Several themes unite the five stories that form the collection, the most prominent being the male protagonist’s struggle for purpose in a chaotic, hostile, and grotesque world to which he feels no connection. The stories use dark humor and, at times, fantasy against a realistic background to capture a feeling more than a type of character: a sense of lostness, of wandering without direction in a world where the road is the purpose and running away or being silent is a way of being.
The collection is tied together and framed by a series of email conversations between a fictional character and the fictional construct of the author, Seth Johnson. Seth is nearing the end of his last semester in an English graduate program and will be returning to work in South Texas, and his old logging buddy, Don Bush, is eager for his friend to join him once again on the oil rigs.
|School:||University of Louisiana at Lafayette|
|School Location:||United States -- Louisiana|
|Source:||DAI-A 80/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Creative writing, American literature|
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