An interesting narrative form is the one-sided dialogue. Often it is in the form of letters, a telephone conversation, or a diary. I suppose you can go back to Samuel Richardson and the early epistolary novels to see a form of one-sided narrative.
Let’s not forget the early Bob Newhart comedy schtick where the audience only heard one side of the telephone conversation (I remember the Sir Walter Raleigh and the Building the Pyramids routines quite vividly).
Probably the most common one-sided dialogue is the narrative which only goes on in the head of the character. Sometimes this technique is used in the midst of a more standard narrative but it is also used as the complete narrative, as in Gordon Lish’s excellent novel, Dear Mr. Capote.
Gina Ranalli writes Bizarro fiction. Her novels include House of Fallen Trees, Sky Tongues, Swarm of Flying Eyeballs, Chemical Gardens, Suicide Girls in the Afterlife, and Mother Puncher. Her short story collection 13 Thorns (with outsider artist Gus Fink) won the Wonderland Book Award for best collection of 2007. Her short fiction has appeared in Bits of the Dead, Horror Library Vol. 3, Northern Haunts, The Dream People, Dead Science, and The Bizarro Starter Kit (Orange).
I read several early Ranalli works and was most impressed with Suicide Girls. Recently I finished a short novel called Wall of Kiss that caused me to stop and think about the idea of the one-sided narrative. First, let me admit that Gina Ranalli, like many Bizarro authors, is not a writer of masterpieces … and she doesn’t need to be. The idea behind Bizarro is that some aspect of life is recreated in a very unrealistic manner—women made of candy, survival suits made of cockroaches, the Devil that lives down the street, etc. For me, Bizarro is a literary exercise in the wilds of imagination: some works leave big dents and twists in my little gray cells while other works are just silly. They can’t all be gems and still be considered experimental.
The story of Wall of Kiss is fairly simple and the events depicted are fairly hackneyed. How many stories or movies have you experienced where a young couple meet, fall in love, move in together … and then gradually fall out of love, nag and nit-pick, and even turn to violent regret? Wall of Kiss is not too different, except that the young woman of the story falls in love with one of the walls in her apartment. This, of course, means that the entire cycle of love and despair is pretty much one-sided.
Actually, it both is and is not one-sided, although it is all in the head of the young woman.
Ranalli’s novel is short and an easy read. It provides a glimpse into a disturbed mind, even if the narrative never actually admits that a woman in love with a wall (yes, physically too) is unusual.
Gina Ranalli is an interesting author and the entire genre known as Bizarro is worth experiencing. If you want to know more about the author, she has her own website so go exploring.