Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Dixon’s stories often use the postmodernist technique of demonstrating what is absent as a method of motivating his protagonists to go in search of something to fill in the emptiness. The desperate need to become that dancing father he accidentally has seen sets Howard in motion so that all of his actions conform to the demands of that imperative. Both the humor and the pathos of the story, although primarily a comic quest, come from how absolutely Howard adheres to his search for a woman who can produce that child.

Another comic technique used in this story, and Dixon’s stories generally, is the way in which Howard’s overworked mind creates complications where previously there were none. A simple matter of attempting to find the perfect mate becomes, for Howard, a complex process of judging hip width, skin quality, and his future wife’s capacity to breed healthy babies. Much of the humor of the story evolves from the almost slapstick desperation of Howard’s relentless quest for the future mother of his children. Once the child is born, it enables Howard to generate his own personal Eden and becomes the central image that generated his initial journey.

Dixon’s works do not rigidly adhere to linear plots; rather, they follow circles that become cycles that move his characters into periods of both psychological and emotional growth or decline. Dixon’s open imagination enables him to take virtually any narrative and move it in any direction, because his stories are process parables that demonstrate the infinitely varied paths the active imagination may take in finding or creating meaning in any human activity.