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The Literary Fiction Drinking Game.
BY J.D. EVANS
With thanks to Daniele Dickerson and Sean Pessin
The game is quite simple. Each participant, starting with the youngest, names a novel published after 1980. For each novel, each participant takes one drink (or more, if stipulated) whenever one of the following conditions holds:
1. The story is in the present tense.
2. The work is self-reflexive.
3. The story is written in the first person.
4. An individual is the protagonist.
5. A family is the protagonist.
6. Each chapter is told in a different person’s perspective, up to but not exceeding four individuals.
7. The story is set some between 1848 and 1977.
8. The setting demands that characters make hard moral decisions.
9. The characters make obviously good or obviously bad moral decisions.
10. The protagonist is the same gender as the author.
11. The protagonist is the same race as the author.
12. The protagonist has the same sexuality as the author.
13. The protagonist is the same age as the author.
14. The protagonist is the same nationality as the author.
15. The protagonist has the same religion as the author.
16. The protagonist has the same politics as the author.
17. The protagonist has the same sense of humor as the author.
18. Take an extra drink for each characteristic listed in 10-17 if the author and protagonist are male, white, straight, middle-aged, American, atheistic, liberal, or unfunny. Take a ninth bonus drink if the protagonist and author are male, white, straight, middle-aged, American, atheistic, liberal, and unfunny. Take a tenth bonus drink if the protagonist has all of these characteristics, and is also kind of whiny.
19. Instead of a novel, it’s “creative nonfiction.”
20. A character is reading/writing a book of greater literary merit than the book in which s/he is a character. Take an extra drink if there’s no way this character would be reading/writing that book. Take a third drink if the book the character is reading/writing has nothing to do with the book in which its author is a character.
21. If the novel is by a man, the main female character is down to earth, or hot. Drink remainder of your bottle if she is both. Drink additional bottle if male protagonist ends up sleeping with her at some point.
22. If the story is by a woman, the main female character is astonishingly superior to everyone around her. Drink remainder of your bottle if, at the end of the novel, she experiences an important personal awakening.
23. A common phrase in a foreign language is set in italics and then immediately translated.
24. A character attends an elite educational institution, but is too smart for it.
25. The story endlessly details historical events that nobody cares about.
26. There are Nazis.
27. There is a disproportionate number of Jewish Americans.
28. The story is set during a genocide, any genocide. If the author is from a nation or people totally unconnected to the genocide, drink until alcohol poisoning is induced in all participants.
29. A character apologizes for the story’s conceit.
30. There are footnotes.
31. There are quotes from Wittgenstein. If the quotes are not obviously misused, refrain from this drink (n.b.: this is highly likely).
32. A plot element relies on misunderstood theoretical physics.
33. The book is set in New York. Take an extra drink if it’s set in Manhattan. Take three extra drinks if it’s set in Brooklyn.
34. The protagonist has writer’s block.
35. The book is by Paul Auster.
36. An animal is very important to the plot.
37. The story is told from a child’s perspective. Take an extra drink if the child is suffering from symptoms copied verbatim (word by word) from DSM 5. Take a third drink if the child interacts with an animal.
38. It’s just about sexual maturity, or failures thereof.
39. The story fails the Bechdel test.
40. The story passes the Bechdel test, but was obviously written entirely to pass the Bechdel test, and so allow the author to brag about how great his/her gender politics are.
41. That whereof one cannot speak is spoken of at quite some length.
42. The work depicts itself as open-minded, but actually consists entirely of commonplace, individualistic liberalism.
43. There is an overdetermined car crash.
44. The author obviously has a madonna/whore complex. Take an extra drink if s/he is unaware of this fact.
45. There are unstable identities.
46. Mystery, crisis, tension, or stakes are raised in the first fifteen pages.
47. Nothing happens.
48. Fragments. Life in shards. Pain… wisdom-contentment-quietism.
49. The death of an animal is treated with great circumspection, while the death of a human being is considered a joke.
50. The great mystery and importance of everyday life is revealed in “limpid” and/or “searing” prose.
51. There are lists.
52. Juxtaposed images or stories are supposed to create epiphanies.
53. The book’s paragraphs are numbered.1
54. There is walking.
55. The value of empathy is affirmed.
56. Affirmation is affirmed.
57. Irony is scorned.
58. The author awkwardly constructs sentences that you would have been able to understand much more easily had the author left them in the passive voice as s/he wrote them in the first draft into the active voice, and vice versa.
59. There’s no art in the prose because of like total raw immediate expression and shit.
60. Individual events are assumed to be more meaningful than general concepts.
61. Less than one third of the sentences comprise more than one clause.
62. There are emails.
63. There are tweets.
64. There is Snapchat, Instagram, Wikipedia, or blogs.
65. For rules 62-64, take an extra twelve drinks if the author has publicly argued that any books not featuring email/tweets/Snapchat/Instagram/wikipedia/blogs are now as outdated as trench warfare. In fact, continue drinking until death is induced in all participants.
1 The following subcondition has been deleted, because it never happens: Refrain from this drink if the numbering is actually performing some function.
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