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For a while it seemed the unlikable narrator no longer needed defending. Apparently, however, many readers and writers do not agree. They don’t like narrators who are sexist, racist, or homophobic. They don’t like a narrator who doesn’t fulfill his or her own potential, complains too much, is too angry, or treats their mother badly. It is not a writer’s job to make sure the narrator isn’t offensive; the writer must have love and have empathy for their characters—that is the only task. In this class, we will read prose with “unlikable” narrators by Denis Johnson, Susan Steinberg, and Bret Easton Ellis, among others, and participants will be invited to write from the perspective of their own unlikable narrators.
Mary Miller is the author of a story collection, Big World, and a novel, The Last Days of California.