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Segue 10: Fall 2011  ||  Dean Kisling


about the author


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.


about the work


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.


Dean Kisling on the Web





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