Memento Mori: Pushing Past the “Dead Queer” Stereotype in Fiction about Suicide

Suzette Mayr


Writing a novel about suicide without taking the more predictable, formulaic route of concentrating the narrative on the suicide victim and her or his immediate family and/or close friends can prove to be a challenging process. It is especially challenging to write about a non-heterosexual character who has committed suicide without the risk of turning the novel into a “dead queer” novel – a genre of text often accepted by and celebrated in mainstream North American film and literary culture. Texts such as Joyce Carol Oates’ The Falls show, however, that there is a way to write a fictional text about suicide without succumbing to the “dead queer” suicide plot formula. Building on Oates’ unusual textual treatment of the suicide victim in The Falls, Canadian novelist Suzette Mayr explores Kenneth J. Doka’s notion of the “disenfranchised mourner.” By focusing on the characters of the “disenfranchised mourners” in her novel-in-progress, Mayr was able to write her fourth novel Monoceros without relying on pre-existing narrative formulae.


Suicide; fiction; Canada; adolescents; unicorns; queer literature

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ISSN: 2254-1179
Entidad editora: Universidad de Huelva. Servicio de Publicaciones
Licencia de usoCreative Commons 4.0