Writing Techniques in Philadelphia Fire

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Jarring may be the best word to describe the combination of techniques used by Wideman in Philadelphia Fire.

As in his previous works, he shifts narrators and combines fact with fiction. The shifts are remarkable not for their smoothness but for their jagged edges. For instance, Cudjoe, who opens the book, is suddenly replaced by Wideman in Part II, wondering about his son and asking, "Why this Cudjoe?"

The shifts in narrative point of view are not as unexpected as the variety of forms included in the novel. In this book Wideman pushes the boundaries of the genre by including essays, parables, reflections, history lessons, letters, and articles, along with exposition, description, and dialogue. The sheer variety of material is surprising.

This is not a linear novel but a collection of snapshots, a collage splattered between the covers of a book.

Wideman also blurs the distinction between fiction...

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This section contains 228 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
Buy the Philadelphia Fire Short Guide
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Philadelphia Fire from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.