Writers Working: Seeing Around the Narrator

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Examine first-person characters and unreliable narrators.

You can attend this program online or in person. To take part online, access the Zoom link at deschuteslibrary.org. Masks are recommended at all in-person library events.

The most interesting storytellers are those who don’t know how to tell us the truth – or those who don’t want to. First-person speakers are naturally unreliable: they can’t tell us the full story. As readers, it’s our job to piece it all together, understanding that how we are led to fill in the blanks can change our perception of the story itself. Consider first-person characters like Merricat Blackwood (Shirley Jackson), Fuckhead (Denis Johnson), or Yunior (Junot Diaz); they are all liars (whether they realize this or not), and we love them for it. In examining omission, objective correlative, and narrative voice, we can determine when surface-level character motivation becomes a MacGuffin.

Catherine Malcynsky grew up with four siblings in Chester, CT. After receiving her BA from Boston College (and a quick stint working on film sets in NYC), Catherine earned her MFA from Oregon State University (Corvallis). Catherine now works as a freelance writer while teaching writing courses at OSU Cascades. Her short stories have appeared in The Susquehanna Apprentice, Carve Magazine, Broad River Review, and the shortlist for the Masters Review Winter Short Story Award (2020).

Central Oregon Writers Guild’s mission is to provide Central Oregon area writers a forum for mutual support and education through meetings, annual events and workshops. Our goal is to advance growth and success for individual writers of all genres and skill levels. Founded in 2002, the Guild is a non-profit organization, run entirely by volunteers.

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