Hello fellow amphibians of the pond. Today we shall explore the concept of the unreliable narrator, which is a concept defined first 1961 by Wayne C. Both in The Rhetoric of Fiction, and which means a story told from someone whose credibility is seriously compromised.
The unreliable narrator is a concept that is one of the pillars of postmodern literature, and when reading about the concept I realize how many of my favorite books that uses this type of storytelling , but it’s not until very recently that I feel that the unreliable narrator now rules the world.
For simplicity let us say that only the first person perspective can be used for this prompt, even though it can probably be done in other perspectives as well.
There are different types of unreliable narrators, but both in literature and there are many classifications, but what is common is that we know, sooner or later, that the story is compromised. This is not necessarily the same as the narrator lying, we just realize that we cannot trust the person telling the story, but still he fascinates and we cannot turn away and just continue to listen.
If this has been a strong trend in fiction, the same cannot be said for poetry. Poetry always has to be honest, and even if the poet sometimes lies, we can always trust his or her honesty.
Maybe this is a good thing, truth is better than lies, but one of the things with writing to prompts is to leave your comfort zone, and after all we cannot avoid listening to the liar, the madman, the braggart or the clown.
Today I want you to become an unreliable narrator. Tell me a story that is not yours, exaggerate and lie, but think a bit on how to expose yourself. Should you make it apparent from the start, should you gradually let it seep in, or should you reveal it as a twist at the end.
Baron von Münchhausen was a definitely an unreliable narrator
Also remember there can be many truths hidden behind the unreliable narrator. I did for instance feel the horrors from the bombings of Dresden even if was shown through the voice Billy Pilgrim; I never believed young Alex in a Clockwork Orange, but his story exposed a dystopian society better than a truthful narrative would ever do.
A poem is not a novel, so I am very curious how you will meet this challenge in a fairly short poem. I know that a few of you will love this prompt while others will just hate it, but at least it’s not Physics this time.