The Story of "Me"


The Story of "Me"

Contemporary American Autofiction

Marjorie Worthington

Frontiers of Narrative Series

234 pages
1 appendix, index


November 2018


$50.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2018


$50.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2018


$50.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Autofiction, or works in which the eponymous author appears as a fictionalized character, represents a significant trend in postwar American literature, when it proliferated to become a kind of postmodern cliché. The Story of “Me” charts the history and development of this genre, analyzing its narratological effects and discussing its cultural implications. By tracing autofiction’s conceptual issues through case studies and an array of texts, Marjorie Worthington sheds light on a number of issues for postwar American writing: the maleness of the postmodern canon—and anxieties created by the supposed waning of male privilege—the relationship between celebrity and authorship, the influence of theory, the angst stemming from claims of the “death of the author,” and the rise of memoir culture.

Worthington constructs and contextualizes a bridge between the French literary context, from which the term originated, and the rise of autofiction among various American literary movements, from modernism to New Criticism to New Journalism. The Story of “Me” demonstrates that the burgeoning of autofiction serves as a barometer of American literature, from modernist authorial effacement to postmodern literary self-consciousness.

Author Bio

Marjorie Worthington is a professor of English and in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Eastern Illinois University.


"The Story of "Me" explores the territory between fiction and nonfiction specifically characterized by direct authorial intrusion into and interpretation of the text. . . . Worthington provides theoretical groundwork for addressing questions about gray areas between fiction and memoir regarding the nature of truth and fabrication. These questions are important because they concern trust and truth regarding "facts," the authorial voice, alternative narratives, the primacy and relevance of narrative voices, and so forth. It is good to work these ideas out, as Worthington does, in works by American writers such as Philip Roth, Joan Didion, and Kurt Vonnegut, but it is exponentially more significant for discussions of life and death issues such as truth, trust, convenient lies, inconvenient facts, "alternative" facts, and fake news as they play out on the national stage."—J. A. Zoller, Choice

“Consistently intriguing and elegantly constructed. The Story of ‘Me’ should find an appreciative audience, as it highlights not only the existence of this under-remarked-upon genre but also the enormous explanatory power of that genre for thinking through the pressures and issues that postwar literature confronted. The opening chapter is particularly compelling, as it traces how we might see the rise of autofiction as a reaction to a supposed crisis of American masculinity.”—Daniel Grausam, associate professor of English studies at Durham University and author of On Endings: American Postmodern Fiction and the Cold War

“An important and timely contribution. The level of scholarship that has gone into The Story of ‘Me’ is impressive: discussions are stuffed full of relevant references while remaining highly readable and coherent. The author’s grasp of the French context, relevant literary theory, and the American literary landscape is really admirable.”—Elizabeth H. Jones, joint academic director of the School of Arts and lecturer in French studies at the University of Leicester and author of Spaces of Belonging: Home, Culture, and Identity in Twentieth-Century French Autobiography

Table of Contents

1. Masculinity, Whiteness, and Postmodern Self-Consciousness: Vladimir Nabokov, John Barth, Kurt Vonnegut, and Richard Powers
2. Rage against the Dying of the Author: Philip Roth, Arthur Phillips, Ruth Ozeki, Salvador Plascencia, and Percival Everett
3. The New Journalism as the New Fiction: Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson, Joan Didion, Mark Leyner, and Bret Easton Ellis
4. Trauma Autofiction, Dissociation, and the Authenticity of “Real” Experience: Kurt Vonnegut, Raymond Federman, Tim O’Brien, and Jonathan Safran Foer
5. Memoir vs. Autofiction as the Story of Me vs. the Story of “Me”: Philip Roth, Richard Powers, Bret Easton Ellis, and Ron Currie Jr.
Appendix: American Autofictions

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