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Literature / A Pack of Lies

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A Pack of Lies: Twelve Stories in One is a collection of short stories by children's author Geraldine McCaughrean, first published in 1988.

It contains eleven short stories, each in a different genre and style. The twelfth is the frame story, in which a young man starts working at a secondhand shop, Povey's Antiquary, and sells objects to unlikely buyers by telling intriguing tales about their origins. As the book progresses, the family that owns the shop begins to wonder about him: Are his stories true, or just a pack of lies? ("Fiction, madam.") Where does he come from? What's his story?

This book contains examples of:

  • Author Avatar: The young man inserts an idealised version of himself into one of his own stories. At the end of the book, he enters the story himself, preferring it to his real life.
  • Author Powers: The implausible happenstances in the frame story turn out to be because it, too, is a story the young man is telling, and he keeps tweaking to help out his preferred characters.
  • Framing Device: The story of Povey's Antiquary and its new employee.
  • Metafiction: The book plays around with the meaning of fiction and the sometimes blurry line between stories and real life.
  • Nested Story Reveal: At the end, it turns out the frame story is itself a story the young man is telling.
  • Noticing the Fourth Wall: At the end, the Poveys realise that they, too, are characters in a story.