Tuesday, April 17, 2012

James M. Cain -- "Narratively, I do not exist..."

"The only way I can keep on the track at all is to pretend to be somebody else – to put it in dialect and thus get it told. If I try to do it in my own language I find that I have none. A style that seems to be personal enough for ordinary gassing refuses to get going for an imaginary narrative. So long as I merely report what people might have said under certain circumstances, I am all right; but the moment I have to step in myself, and try to create the impression that what happened to those people really matters, then I am sunk. I flounder about, not knowing whether I should skip to the scene at the church or pile in a little more of the talk at the post office. The reason is... I don't care what happened. It doesn't matter to me. Narratively, I do not exist, I have no impulse to hold an audience."

--James M. Cain, quoted in The Baby In the Icebox and Other Short Fiction, ed. Roy Hoopes.