The Mighty World of Eye: Stories/Anti-Stories
Simon & Schuster/New Endeavour Press, $16.95 pb, 194 pp
Fictions about academic life have always been about sex, but these days the sexiest thing to write about is theory. Fortunately for the writer who wants to write about both sex and theory, the equation between sexual and textual intercourses has excellent credentials in the poststructuralist canon. Followers of Barthes and Derrida have taken to the pleasures of the theoretical text with an eagerness aptly defined by the sexual metaphors they overindulge in. Others, less enamoured by theoretical discourses, have found that these provide an excellent target for parody and satire, and thus manage at once to partake in the playful intercourse and retain a critical, mocking distance. What tends to be forgotten, amidst all this textual cavorting, is that literary theory is a reasonably rigid intellectual discipline: playful though it may be, it is easy to get it all wrong!
At the centre of David Parker’s complex work (there, my theoretical innocence has been exposed - centre, work and author indeed!) are thirteen apparently autobiographical short fictions, held together by the name of the main character, Roland Eye. But Roland, or Roly, is not the same person in each story. He is generally a writer or academic, more often than not he has a wife named Magda and two or three young children. The different Eyes are moreover connected by a common weakness – they suffer from some kind of delusion about themselves, about the world, or about their relationships to other characters.