Projecting the Self: An Exploration of the Stakes of Metafiction in Ben Lerner’s 10:04 Within Realist Contemporary Literature

Sergio Mendez : English, Creative Writing minor

Mentor: Lyn Hejinian, English

Metafiction, or fiction that is aware of its own artificiality, is often dismissed as gimmicky postmodern narrative pyrotechnics—a narratological gamble for any writer wishing to be taken seriously. Ben Lerner’s latest acclaimed novel, 10:04, asks its readers to reconsider the value of metafiction as it follows a protagonist named Ben who tries to expand a successful short story into a novel. Sergio will be using literary theory and critical analysis in order to uncover what Lerner’s use of metafiction says about contemporary literature, but also how this style of narrative creates an emotional connection with readers. Sergio will also be writing his first novel: a metafictional account of Sergio, a Cal undergraduate who faces the difficulties and anxieties of being a “DACAmented” student during a xenophobic presidential administration.