Pale Fire. The narrator, Charles Kinbote, inserts his story ‘into’ John Shade’s poem – he parasitizes it, he acts a magpie. Pale Fire is writing at an angle. The real story is told indirectly, via clues. Nabokov delights in having Kinbote expose himself as untrustworthy. Cruel fiction. The real story is how far Kinbote’s delusion goes; the real story is what lies beneath the surface; the real story is told where Kinbote’s fragile face breaks down.
Take a book like Money. The delusion of the narrator – his inability to self-reflect – is communicated to the reader using a similar technique: a writing-around or a writing indirectly. We see contraditions. We pick up clues. John Self narrates around his own monstrosity, he shoves our face in it. He knows he is terrible, unlike Kinbote. He raises the question of why he is unhappy over and over again. Self confirms to us his self-awareness, and he shows us how he manages to delude himself as well.
Why is someone who lies so interesting? Why do I find fiction, literature, books, that take deception as their primary stylistic device (or, more properly deception, and the unveiling of that deception)?
I would say that people must lie to themselves, to others, about themselves, and about others, to make a coherent narrative, that is, to hold everything together in one voice (and Pale Fire and Money are both meticulously faithful to voice). Lies, I believe, secure our selves as coherent stories, that is, as singular narratives. Lies, in other words, make people possible.