Last week I neglected the blog due to a family emergency, but this week I’m back with a short-short exercise based on Julio Cortázar’s “A Continuity of Parks,” found on p. 137 of the book Flash Fiction, edited by James Thomas, Denise Thomas, and Tom Hazuka.
The Meta Exercise
“A Continuity of Parks,” begins with a rich man who is allowing himself to become engrossed in a book. As the narrative progresses, the vivid dream of the novel becomes literal for the man, and he thinks himself into the story, circling the narrative back on itself. Cortázar’s protagonist imagines that he is sneaking into a mansion to kill his lover’s husband, when he arrives in the mansion, knife in hand, he sees himself in an armchair reading a book. Cortázar is essentially exploring literature’s power to literally take the reader outside of him- or herself, and the divisions between real life and fantasy life. Furthermore, the narrative suggests that the story inside the book is relevant to the protagonist’s life, that perhaps, he has a wife who is cheating on him, who wishes him dead.
Write a story in which the protagonist becomes engrossed in a film, painting, book or other piece of art that is relevant to his or her life. Describe the secondary narrative of that art object and allow your main character to become so engrossed in it that the secondary narrative takes over and becomes as real, inside the story, as the protagonist’s main narrative. The story should loop back on itself, ending as the protagonist confronts him or herself in a surprising and enlightening way.