The New York Trilogy: A Marriage of Mystery and Metafiction
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Detective fiction is a genre well-known for its strongly defined boundaries, strict rules, and formulaic structure. Metafiction, on the other hand, is a genre well-known for its vague borders, loose rules, and deconstructive tendencies. Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy, a volume made up of his first three novels, seeks to combine the two. This paper conducts an investigation into the relationship between detective fiction and metafiction as found in Auster’s volume, and asks what, if anything, it can tell us about genre. More specifically, after providing a quick summary of postmodernism, and introducing the two genres, it engages in a close reading of City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room. What this thorough examination reveals is that the dynamic changes from story to story, the relationship between the two genres steadily improving. Auster, in that sense, serves as a matchmaker by continually subverting, undermining, and replacing the conventions of detective fiction with those of metafiction. Indeed, by turning the critical eye of the detective genre unto itself, Auster manages to revitalize a formulaic genre. Ultimately, therefore, I conclude that what The New York Trilogy informs us about genre is this: the boundaries of a genre are permeable, and metafiction, with its deconstructive tendencies, not only highlights this, but when paired off with a particular genre, serves as the catalyst which sees them redrawn. The creative writing piece, attached in the appendixes, emulates the Trilogy by once again shifting the boundaries of detective fiction.