Sleeping in a room, on the floor, with four other girls last night, I was trying to decide what to talk about in this. The girl to my left was snoring and I lay there staring at the ceiling knowing that I had so much to do before the wedding at 3.33 and this was one of them. Why the wedding starts at 3.33? They have a strange sense of humor and my friend Dave woke up from a nap, and decided that was the time it should start.
There seems to be a common unreliability to most the narrators that we’ve come across thus far. From White Noise to The Female Man, there is always some bias – something that makes you doubt if what they are really telling you is true. The self-absorption of Jack that seemed to skew his perspective on the world; or how much could you really trust anything in House of Leaves, let alone the narrator(s). And now as we come to Dream Jungle, I think the same question of how reliable are the people telling the story. From the introduction, or the first chapter, whichever one it really it, with its differing font and coming from the journal of Antonio Pigafetta, I read it with a certain skepticism. There is a mind set of early explorers and their history in general that without intending to, has a slant to it. But more than that there are the narratives of Rizalina and what I can’t decide is a third person narration or perhaps Rizalina with more information later on (but I think that very very unlikely and an idea that is a product of very little sleep). Of what we’ve read though I think she (they?) bring a more consistent perspective than any we’ve seen yet. Rizalina doesn’t seem to be hiding anything – she lays bare to the reader to the theft of the ribbon and her reasons for it, her feelings for Zamora, the things her father did. So I don’t think she is unreliable – or at least not yet and the same goes for this third person perspective that we’ve encountered.
So what does this mean? I don’t think it means that all novels grouped into the post-modern label feature unreliable narrators, and the Dream Jungle would be a good argument against the idea. But it seems to be a commonality in the things we’ve read so far, and so I’m kind of waiting for that shift. The surprise and thwarting of the anticipation of the reader – challenging their preconceived notions as to what a novel should do.