Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Tenth Lecture

This lecture introduced John Mills' Thank Your Mother for the Rabbits. The book presents some of Mills collected occupations, but our interest is his creation of several idiosyncratic, significant and weirdly comic novels. I recommend you find and read his Runner in the Dark: an entertainingly intellectual thriller set in a plausible 1990s Vancouver.

Thank your Mother for the Rabbits is an autobiography that seems to somehow achieve the status of a novel: in the same way that Mills life story is of labourer who achieved the status of
emeritus professor of English at Simon Fraser University. His recently-published Youth, Father and Curmudgeon, likewise, is a cookbook that entertainingly celebrates a reflective masculinity.

The bildungsroman - novel of formation (of character) - and kunstelroman - novel of artistic formation- are obvious candidates for categorising Thank Your Mother, and the lecture accordingly detailed these literary types. However, I suggest that the picaresque is a mode of fiction which also helpfully defines Mills' autobiography; with its movement from low to high, moments of small delinquencies, consistent tone of epater les bourgeois, and of course its recurrent comic mood. Furthermore, the book's recounting of spiritual redemption is a element of the picareseque in its Spanish origin, Typically, Thank Your Mother for the Rabbits combines features of all three of these literary types, without being fully any of them.

For all that, in light of the subject of our course -- English 101: Introduction to Fiction" -- we will take a special interest in the way in which Mills book reveals itself as "the Genesis of a novelist..."

Mills' autobiography has some formal similarities to a blog: it is episodic, reflective, commentative and is very much one man's encounter with the world told in a mixture of direct and tangential posts, so to speak.

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