I read this in 1983 and just found it again. Yippee!

Rev. RtO


A story by David Moser...



This Is the Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in

the Story Itself



This is the first sentence of this story. This is the second

sentence. This is the title of this story, which is also found

several times in the story itself. This sentence is questioning the

intrinsic value of the first two sentences. This sentence is to

inform you, in case you haven't already realized it, that this is a

self-referential story, that is, a story containing sentences that

refer to their own structure and function. This is a sentence that

provides an ending to the first paragraph.



This is the first sentence of a new paragraph in a self-referential

story. This sentence is introducing you to the protagonist of the

story, a young boy named Billy. This sentence is telling you that

Billy is blond and blue-eyed and American and twelve years old and

strangling his mother. This sentence comments on the awkward nature

of the self-referential narrative form while recognizing the strange

and playful detachment it affords the writer. As if illustrating the

point made by the last sentence, this sentence reminds us, with no

trace of facetiousness, that children are a precious gift from God and

that the world is a better place when graced by the unique joys and

delights they bring to it.



This sentence describes Billy's mother's bulging eyes and protruding

tongue and makes reference to the unpleasant choking and gagging

noises she's making. This sentence makes the observation that these

are uncertain and difficult times, and that relationships, even

seemingly deep-rooted and permanent ones, do have a tendency to break




Introduces, in this paragraph, the device of sentence fragments. A

sentence fragment. Another. Good device. Will be used more later.



This is actually the last sentence of the story but has been placed

here by mistake. This is the title of this story, which is also found

several times in the story itself. As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning

from uneasy dreams he found himself in his bed transformed into a

gigantic insect. This sentence informs you that the preceding

sentence is from another story entirely (a much better one, it must be

noted) and has no place at all in this particular narrative. Despite

claims of the preceding sentence, this sentence feels compelled to

inform you that the story you are reading is in actuality "The

Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka, and that the sentence referred to by

the preceding sentence is the only sentence which does indeed belong

in this story. This sentence overrides the preceding sentence by

informing the reader (poor, confused wretch) that this piece of

literature is actually the Declaration of Independence, but that the

author, in a show of extreme negligence (if not malicious sabotage),

has so far failed to include even one single sentence from that

stirring document, although he has condescended to use a small

sentence fragment, namely, "When in the course of human events",

embedded in quotation marks near the end of a sentence. Showing a

keen awareness of the boredom and downright hostility of the average

reader with regard to the pointless conceptual games indulged in by

the preceding sentences, this sentence returns us at last to the

scenario of the story by asking the question, "Why is Billy strangling

his mother?" This sentence attempts to shed some light on the

question posed by the preceding sentence but fails. This sentence,

however, succeeds, in that it suggests a possible incestuous

relationship between Billy and his mother and alludes to the

concomitant Freudian complications any astute reader will immediately

envision. Incest. The unspeakable taboo. The universal prohibition.

Incest. And notice the sentence fragments? Good literary device.

Will be used more later. This is the first sentence in a new

paragraph. This is the last sentence in a new paragraph.



This sentence can serve as either the beginning of the paragraph or

end, depending on its placement. This is the title of this story,

which is also found several times in the story itself. This sentence

raises a serious objection to the entire class of self-referential

sentences that merely comment on their own function or placement

within the story (e.g., the preceding four sentences), on the grounds

that they are monotonously predictable, unforgivably self-indulgent,

and merely serve to distract the reader from the real subject of this

story, which at this point seems to concern strangulation and incest

and who knows what other delightful topics. The purpose of this

sentence is to point out that the preceding sentence, while not itself

a member of the class of self-referential sentences it objects to,

nevertheless also serves merely to distract the reader from the real

subject of this story, which actually concerns Gregor Samsa's

inexplicable transformation into a gigantic insect (despite the

vociferous counterclaims of other well-meaning although misinformed

sentences). This sentence can serve as either the beginning of the

paragraph or end, depending on its placement.



This is the title of this story, which is also found several times in

the story itself. This is almost the title of the story, which is

found only once in the story itself. This sentence regretfully states

that up to this point the self-referential mode of narrative has had a

paralyzing effect on the actual progress of the story itself -- that

is, these sentences have been so concerned with analyzing themselves

and their role in the story that they have failed by and large to

perform their function as communicators of events and ideas that one

hopes coalesce into a plot, character development, etc. -- in short,

the very raison d'?tre of any respectable, hardworking sentence in the

midst of a piece of compelling prose fiction. This sentence in

addition points out the obvious analogy between the plight of these

agonizingly self-aware sentences and similarly afflicted human beings,

and it points out the analogous paralyzing effects wrought by

excessive and tortured self-examination.



The purpose of this sentence (which can also serve as a paragraph) is

to speculate that if the Declaration of Independence had been worded

and structured as lackadaisically and incoherently as this story has

been so far, there's no telling what kind of warped libertine society

we'd be living in now or to what depths of decadence the inhabitants

of this country might have sunk, even to the point of deranged and

debased writers constructing irritatingly cumbersome and needlessly

prolix sentences that sometimes possess the questionable if not

downright undesirable quality of referring to themselves and they

sometimes even become run-on sentences or exhibit other signs of

inexcusably sloppy grammar like unneeded superfluous redundancies that

almost certainly would have insidious effects on the lifestyle and

morals of our impressionable youth, leading them to commit incest or

even murder and maybe that'?s why Billy is strangling his mother,

because of sentences just like this one, which have no discernible

goals or perspicuous purpose and just end up anywhere, even in mid



Bizarre. A sentence fragment. Another fragment. Twelve years old.

This is a sentence that. Fragmented. And strangling his mother.

Sorry, sorry. Bizarre. This. More fragments. This is it.

Fragments. The title of this story, which. Blond. Sorry, sorry.

Fragment after fragment. Harder. This is a sentence that.

Fragments. Damn good device.



The purpose of this sentence is threefold: (1) to apologize for the

unfortunate and inexplicable lapse exhibited by the preceding

paragraph; (2) to assure you, the reader, that it will not happen

again; and (3) to reiterate the point that these are uncertain and

difficult times and that aspects of language, even seemingly stable

and deeply rooted ones such as syntax and meaning, do break down.

This sentence adds nothing substantial to the sentiments of the

preceding sentence but merely provides a concluding sentence to this

paragraph, which otherwise might not have one.



This sentence, in a sudden and courageous burst of altruism, tries to

abandon the self-referential mode but fails. This sentence tries

again, but the attempt is doomed from the start.



This sentence, in a last-ditch attempt to infuse some iota of story

line into this paralyzed prose piece, quickly alludes to Billy's

frantic cover-up attempts, followed by a lyrical, touching, and

beautifully written passage wherein Billy is reconciled with his

father (thus resolving the subliminal Freudian conflicts obvious to

any astute reader) and a final exciting police chase scene during

which Billy is accidentally shot and killed by a panicky rookie

policeman who is coincidentally named Billy. This sentence, although

basically in complete sympathy with the laudable efforts of the

preceding action-packed sentence, reminds the reader that such

allusions to a story that doesn't, in fact, yet exist are no

substitute for the real thing and therefore will not get the author

(indolent goof-off that he is) off the proverbial hook.



Paragraph. Paragraph. Paragraph. Paragraph. Paragraph. Paragraph.

Paragraph. Paragraph. Paragraph. Paragraph. Paragraph. Paragraph.

Paragraph. Paragraph.



The purpose. Of this paragraph. Is to apologize. For its gratuitous

use. Of. Sentence fragments. Sorry.



The purpose of this sentence is to apologize for the pointless and

silly adolescent games indulged in by the preceding two paragraphs,

and to express regret on the part of us, the more mature sentences,

that the entire tone of this story is such that it can't seem to

communicate a simple, albeit sordid, scenario.



This sentence wishes to apologize for all the needless apologies found

in this story (this one included), which, although placed here

ostensibly for the benefit of the more vexed readers, merely delay in

a maddeningly recursive way the continuation of the by-now nearly

forgotten story line.



This sentence is bursting at the punctuation marks with news of the

dire import of self-reference as applied to sentences, a practice that

could prove to be a veritable Pandora's box of potential havoc, for if

a sentence can refer or allude to itself, why not a lowly subordinate

clause, perhaps this very clause? Or this sentence fragment? Or

three words? Two words? One?



Perhaps it is appropriate that this sentence gently and with no trace

of condescension reminds us that these are indeed difficult and

uncertain times and that in general people just aren't nice enough to

each other, and perhaps we, whether sentient human beings or sentient

sentences, should just try harder. I mean, there is such a thing as

free will, there has to be, and this sentence is proof of it! Neither

this sentence nor you, the reader, is completely helpless in the face

of all the pitiless forces at work in the universe. We should stand

our ground, face facts, take Mother Nature by the throat and just try

harder. By the throat. Harder. Harder, harder.






This is the title of this story, which is also found several times in

the story itself.



This is the last sentence of the story. This is the last sentence of

the story. This is the last sentence of the story. This is.