Strange Narrators in Contemporary Fiction


Strange Narrators in Contemporary Fiction

Explorations in Readers' Engagement with Characters

Marco Caracciolo

Frontiers of Narrative Series

288 pages
2 tables, 7 figures


December 2016


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

December 2016


$60.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

December 2016


$60.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

A storyteller’s craft can often be judged by how convincingly the narrative captures the identity and personality of its characters. In this book, the characters who take center stage are “strange” first-person narrators: they are fascinating because of how they are at odds with what the reader would wish or expect to hear—while remaining reassuringly familiar in voice, interactions, and conversations. Combining literary analysis with research in cognitive and social psychology, Marco Caracciolo focuses on readers’ encounters with the “strange” narrators of ten contemporary novels, including Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho, Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Caracciolo explores readers’ responses to narrators who suffer from neurocognitive or developmental disorders, who are mentally disturbed due to multiple personality disorder or psychopathy, whose consciousness is split between two parallel dimensions or is disembodied, who are animals, or who lose their sanity.
A foray into current work on reception, reader-response, cognitive literary study, and narratology, Strange Narrators in Contemporary Fiction illustrates why any encounter with a fictional text is a complex negotiation of interlaced feelings, thoughts, experiences, and interpretations.

Author Bio

Marco Caracciolo is a postdoctoral researcher in the English department of the University of Freiburg in Germany. He is the author of The Experientiality of Narrative: An Enactivist Approach and the coauthor (with psychologist Russell Hurlburt) of A Passion for Specificity: Confronting Inner Experience in Literature and Science.


"Beyond Caracciolo’s interventions in narrative theory and studies of reader response to literary texts, Strange Narrators is valuable because of its focused attention to online reviews of fiction."—Mary Foltz, The Year’s Work in English Studies

“The book’s argument is as complex as it is ambitious and very much on the front lines of current work in reception, reader-response, cognitive literary study, and narratology. . . . It should have a strong market not only among narratologists and cognitive literary theorists, but a wide range of literary theorists of many stripes.”—H. Porter Abbott, professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the author of The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative

“The particular approach, methodology, and corpus make this contribution quite innovative and yield valuable insights and results.”—Rüdiger Heinze, professor of American literary and cultural studies at the University of Brunswick–Institute of Technology in Germany

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Spiders on Drugs: A Prologue
Introduction: Minding Characters
1. Patterns of Cognitive Dissonance
2. Two Child Narrators
3. Madness between Violence and Insight
4. A Strange Mood
5. Tales of Rats and Pigs
6. Obsessive Narrators, Unstable Knowledge
Coda: Uses of the Character-Centered Illusion
Works Cited

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