Over the head of the narrator

Okay, here’s a question: I am looking for examples of fictional narrative in which the author and the reader both know and learn more about the world than the narrator/protagonist/viewpoint character(s).

Examples of what I am speaking of, off the top of my head:

  • “Petey” – TED Klein
  • “The Events at Poroth Farm” – TED Klein (I sense a theme)
  • “Fat Face” – Michael Shea
  • that story whose title I can’t remember from the New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird anthology in which the narrator assumes he’s observing the behaviour of crayfish

(The latter three are probably easier to pull off, in that the protagonists discover the facts they are ignorant of before the end of the story. “Petey”, on the other hand, remains a story that in this regard is so beautifully executed I am in awe every time I read it. I will probably be picking it up to look at it, but )

The important thing to note in these stories is that the truth of the fictional narrative is not the reader’s default reality (or, if one of these was set in Regency England or Ancient Egypt, their assumption of what a default reality should be). “Fat Face”, for example, involves shoggoths; assuredly cuddly, but generally not assumed to exist in real life. Contrast this with any one of three dozen narratives in which someone is running around the street seeing ordinary people as “demons”; I am really not hugely interested in examples of the latter, since they are generally a way to tell the reader about the narrator and not about the world.

Finally, I’m looking for text only. This means that things like the I Am Legend movie do not count. It is a wonderful example of how what the viewer can see is really going on (as displayed on film) does not match what the protagonist asserts is going on, but I really want to see how this is made to work in text.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *