Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Beattie, like other postmodernists, writes many of her short stories in scenes, rather than in a straight narrative. “Jacklighting” is written in six: the first, third, and last scenes present information from the narrator’s point of view; the remaining scenes function more dramatically because of their inclusion of dialogue and action between characters. Quite tellingly, there are dramatic scenes between the narrator and Pammy and the narrator and Spence, but not between the narrator and Wynn—the man to whom she is supposedly closest.

One effect of writing in scenes is fragmentation. Each scene functions as a separate (and on one level complete) piece that, when placed with the other pieces, makes up the whole story. No matter in what order the pieces are placed, the reader must make a transition in time and space between them. Furthermore, simply because the reader must make these transitions, it is inferred that there are other fragments—other unwritten pieces—between the scenes. Ultimately, the fragmentation of the story’s form complements the fragmented lives of the story’s four characters.


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Centola, Steven R. “An Interview with Ann Beattie.” Contemporary Literature 31 (Winter, 1990): 405-422.

Friedrich, Otto. “Beattieland.” Time 135 (January 22, 1990): 68.

Hill, Robert W., and Jane Hill. “Ann Beattie.” Five Points 1 (Spring/Summer, 1997): 26-60.

McCaffery, Larry, and Sinda Gregory. “A Conversation with Ann Beattie.” Literary Review 27 (Winter, 1984): 165-177.

Montresor, Jaye Berman, ed. The Critical Response to Ann Beattie. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993.

Murphy, Christina. Ann Beattie. Boston: Twayne, 1986.

Plath, James. “Counternarrative: An Interview with Ann Beattie.” Michigan Quarterly Review 32 (Summer, 1993): 359-379.

Schneiderman, Leo. “Ann Beattie: Emotional Loss and Strategies of Reparation.” American Journal of Psychoanalysis 53 (December, 1993): 317-333.

Young, Michael W., and Troy Thibodeaux. “Ann Beattie.” In A Reader’s Companion to the Short Story in English, edited by Erin Fallon, R. C. Feddersen, James Kurtzleben, Maurice A. Lee, Susan Rochette-Crawley, and Mary Rohrberger. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001.