Chambers (Parody, 2010) returns with a jocular instruction manual for creating and reveling in parodies of all sorts.
The author guides readers through the specific, example-oriented procedure of conceiving, writing and perfecting parodies in this witty, if at times unfocused, satirical manual. He begins with a dissection of three main categories of satire: “banging,” a head-on collision between a thing and its opposite; “binding,” productive tension between a thing and its opposite; and “blending,” the merging of the two. These and other “multistable” categories are explored in light of Chambers’ claim that “all multistable art is parodic, [and] that such art is, in fact, the hallmark of parody.” Chambers is pointed in his championing of parody, citing its generative effects throughout the history of literature: “For nearly two thousand years our forebears learned writing skills by copying, then parodically imitating exemplary texts on their way to flying off on their own.” While such claims are open to debate, the pragmatic approach Chambers employs in teaching the techniques of understanding and generating parodies is refreshingly straightforward. He encourages beginners to try parodying newspaper articles or New Yorker notices, including (sometimes unwisely) many parodies of his own composition by way of example. The book itself operates as a parody of do-it-yourself manuals with similarly grandiose titles. Chambers writes, “What sets the parody apart from mere simple irony (which is certainly present) is its hoaxy duality.” That duality is cheerfully present on every page of this book. Chambers’ own career as a published parodist spanned only three years (1978–1981) and a small handful of venues, but the usefulness of his exercises and insights here speaks of a lifetimes’ study.
A quick, detailed introduction to the technique of parody.