"As an experienced editor I disapprove of backflashes, foreshadowings and tricksy devices, they belong in the 1980s with MAs in Posmodernism and Chaos Theory. "

One of several instances in which Mitchell makes fun of his own postmodern consciousness. Mitchell himself studied on just such a course at Kent University, the kind of plate glass institution that would have embraced postmodernism in all its awkward, mind boggling, enjoyment-sapping forms. Strands in postmodernism are now par the course in university English departments. Postmodernism is rather too complicated to explain here, but in its various literary manifestations the following devices may be exhibited: metafiction (stories within stories), self-referentialism (the bookmark in question is a perfect example), intertextuality (reference to other works within the same genre), intratextuality (the text refers to itself i.e. Cavendish talking about Half-Lives), the appearance of the author within his own work (e.g. Martin Amis writing himself into his own novel Money) or the text drawing attention to its own artifice.  Mitchell's MA required him to examine the levels of reality in the postmodernist novel, a fact which seems to cause him some embarrassment. 'How pretentious is that?' he asked one interviewer. Best not ask Cavendish the same question...