Dean Kisling is a high school dropout who learned to type when
he was forty-seven. He has been a soldier, laborer, taxi driver, welder,
carpenter, performing musician, acupressurist, fractal artist, mountaineer,
trail runner and fool. He writes what happened and also makes stuff
up. He lives in America and is very happily married. More of his work
is available at his website.
My aspiration is to write the story of us. Fiction has the potential
to tell that story more completely because fiction includes the subjective.
The story of us is not simply the objective facts, but also our discovery
and experience of the facts, how we interpret them and what we choose
to do about it. We struggle with the dualities in our own natures,
struggle with love and hate, courage and cowardice, pride and shame,
freedom and slavery. We try to be more than beasts. That struggle
is the story fiction can tell, why we claim fiction can tell the truth.
I think a large part of human dignity is in the fact that we keep
trying to become better than we are.
A story is told from the interior of someone. Or several someones.
For example: even in a story with only one character, the protagonist,
narrator, and author might each have a point of view. They might interact
with each other, compete, cooperate and connive for the reader’s empathy
and trust. They might all become the characters of the story. They
all have personalities, histories, opinions, desires, fears, things
to hide and axes to grind. Each one wants us to understand the story
in a certain way. It is their interiors telling the story, maybe arguing
about it, contesting how it is being told or what really happened,
demanding a fair hearing or last rebuttal.
Written words can get inside the people living and telling the story
in a way that is unique to literature. In a story, you can be told
more about someone than they know about themselves. In a story, a
variety of perspectives can tell a truer tale. The story of us is
better told by many voices.
I enjoy the challenge and the chance to speak from these multiple
points of view, to try to tell a more true story. I think these layers
of voices are the basis of the tradition of irony in literature. Irony
requires some distance, some degree of separation from its object.
Of course, the irony of telling the story of us is that all of us
are one of us, and no real degree of separation is possible, believe
whatever you like.
In a first person story, the protagonist and narrator are the same
person. Part of the action of the story is that person changing, realizing
something, deciding something, becoming this person now speaking to
you as the narrator.
Sometimes the first person narrator is the conscience of the protagonist,
or his dark side, or his apologist, or his main booster, could be
anything, the attitudes of some authority figure now forever internalized...the
point being to differentiate between his two characters: the protagonist
he started out as and the narrator he became. In one sense, that is
the real story, characters being changed by engaging life.