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Friday, September 30, 2022

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An “Induced Coma”

In his book and in the classroom, Harold Jaffe exposes deliberately provocative point of view.
By Natalia Elko
 

Activist art, global warming, revolution, the entertainment industry, and the events of our day-to-day lives are among the topics Harold Jaffe explores in “Induced Coma.”

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Jaffe, a literature and creative writing professor at San Diego State University, deconstructs these subjects by manipulating the words, sentences or paragraph structure of short, previously-published texts to explore their true meaning.

Known for his unique style of “docufiction,” and use of “literary terrorism,” Jaffe takes a deliberately provocative point of view to expose the obscured realities embedded in media-saturated consciousness.

“Everything has changed in the writing world in the last 20 years along with the advent of technology,” Jaffe said. “Because of multitasking, students and young people are almost never not online. This means the information they receive has to be in certain ways masked as entertainment to keep them interested.”

Crash course

Jaffe, who teaches a Masters of Fine Arts course in fiction writing, said, “Students often wonder what to write about. It’s difficult to get back to natural things because they are scarcely accessible anymore. I tell my students to address the information that is out there.”

In the classroom, Jaffe has modified his teaching to deal with the realities of short attention spans. He teaches students to write “flash fiction” or very short fiction — as demonstrated in his book — challenging them to deconstruct a published text and rewrite or rework it into 100 words or less. As a result, students learn to construct meaning from content that already exists.

“Very short stories give people something to talk and write about. If you can’t travel and write about nature, you can write about information and disinformation inspired by work that is already out there,” Jaffe said.

Jaffe’s “Induced Coma”

Jaffe’s books — 22 volumes of fiction, “docufiction,” novels and essays — have been translated into 15 languages and he has received two National Education Association grants, two Fulbright fellowships and three Pushcart Prizes. He is also the editor-in-chief of Fiction International, a literary-cultural journal.

“Induced Coma” will be released Aug. 1 and is available for preorder online.

More information about Jaffe and his work is available on his web site.