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Neither Jamaica Kincaid nor David Shields tell a story in the classic sense — neither is intent on the classic beginning, middle, and end, the three-act structure that has been considered the standard from Aristotle through Syd Field.
What they are after is something else, a storying of experience that is neither teleological — aimed at a specific climax and denouement — nor simply a postmodern pastiche or chaotic collage. There is a deep structure to each of these books, Kincaid's mythical, poetic, looping narrative in See Now Then and Shields' circling around the big questions of the relation of literature to life in the his latest, straightforwardly, and yet deceptively, titled How Literature Saved My Life.
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