Because Jacobson’s narrator is a young psychotic, his descriptions of the characters in his own life are necessarily unreliable; his story, the novel-within-the-novel, is also shaped by his psychosis, which accounts for both the blend of reality and science fiction and the parallelism between the two plots and the two sets of characters. In effect, the narrator tells what is happening to him and what has happened to him. Not surprisingly, the characters in his novel bear striking resemblances to the characters in his life.
The first indication of a possible tie between the narrator and Timothy occurs just after Timothy has transformed himself into a brick. The transmutation provides the first indication of Timothy’s own psychological problems, and while his creator denies responsibility, he sympathetically describes his creation as a “poor little devil.” As the story progresses, the narrator mentions a “chemical analogy” involving “the tendency of the remainder” of “molecules in a cooling liquid” to join those in “the solid.” While the narrator does not identify the other half of the analogy, it is tempting to assume that the resulting “sharp, cooperative phase transition” represents the joining of the two stories and the two identities. The narrator’s admitted “delusions” closely parallel Timothy’s own transmutational delusions, and both receive unsympathetic disbelief from their fathers when they attempt to win their...
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