Title

Gabe, I Think You Might be a Sociopath

Publication Date

April 2016

Advisor(s)

Hirsh Sawhney

Major

English

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

When I set out to write Gabe, I Think You Might be a Sociopath, I claimed in my prospectus that “My main objective is to leave people smiling and laughing while shaking their heads.” Maintaining humor over 70 pages, however, requires more than just telling jokes. My early drafts were written around a fictionalized version of myself named Gabe, who I wrote into many absurd situations, though he always seemed to come out “just fine” on the other end. I soon realized that Gabe wasn’t complex enough, didn’t grow enough, and was frankly unlikeable, as his absurd and sometimes cruel behavior was left largely unexplained. To help form Gabe as a more three dimensional figure, I divorced Gabe, the character from myself, and gave him a fictional and abusive family. This small change freed my writing, and from then on out I was able to not only alter Gabe’s family from my own, but alter Gabe as well. I learned a lot about writing fiction through turning myself into a character, and the more I let myself separate Gabe the character from Gabe the author, the better my narratives and story arcs became. Frankly, I needed Gabe the character to be significantly less clever and self aware than Gabe the author in order for his behavior to be at all forgivable. Gabe, I Think You Might be a Sociopath is a series of short stories which are connected through a central question; is Gabe a sociopath? Though not explicitly stated, each story should bring to mind classic traits often associated with sociopaths, such as impulsivity, promiscuous sexual behavior, pathological lying, a grandiose self worth, and others discussed in Jon Ronson’s book, The Psychopath Test. I explore these themes through Gabe who often exhibits these undesirable and socially unacceptable traits. My stories rely heavily on satire for their humor. Many satirical bodies of work that I find to be impactful—South Park, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Borat— force the viewer/reader to acknowledge darker feelings within themselves as they laugh along with the work. Weather it be racism, sexism, or any other hateful biases, we all have evils within us that I feel satire helps us bring to the forefront and acknowledge. It makes us laugh, but it also makes us uncomfortable. Gabe’s hyperbolized vulgarity should make the reader uncomfortable; his language and actions are my attempts to confront the hidden thoughts and biases that exist in us all. As Gabe pushes boundaries of what he can do and say, so should the reader push the boundaries of what they can read, tolerate, and understand about Gabe. The reader should at once love, hate, be shocked by, and ultimately understand Gabe. Whether or not I have succeeded is a question best left to my readers. Do Gabe’s acerbic and distasteful views reveal uncomfortable truths about our contemporary world or do they simply betray his own insensitive and bigoted notions? And does Gabe’s troubled upbringing justify his worldview, or is he worthy of condemnation regardless?

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