Year

2005

Degree Name

PhD Doctorate

Department

Faculty of Creative Arts

Abstract

Tell Me A Story (TMAS) is comprised of an exploration into the lives of a number of people who live in the Sydney suburb of Redfern in the late twentieth century. Both the suburb and the seven major characters are intended to be seen as a microcosm of contemporary Australian life: the characters vary in age, ethnicity, sex and educational background. The life of each was initially intended to show the relevance of place, institutions and story-telling to our need of belonging. With each subsequent redraft, the importance of our past became more prominent: its impact on our present reality became, in time, the major concern of TMAS. The hybridised structure and form of my novel draw on the stories these characters tell each other as well as the narrated stories of their own lives, seen in flashbacks. Such tales interweave, addressing such fundamental questions as what, how and why we develop a connectedness to people, place and time. Such a multi-layered exploration of the characters� memories, whether they inhabit a real or imagined landscape, is seen in the fragmented narrative of their lives, combining to show the influence of the past on the present. This is shown most powerfully in the lives of the Aboriginal characters. In documenting their past lives against the reality of their contemporary world, an intricate weaving of what was and what is, is explored. TMAS argues not only that one must attempt to make sense of the present by coming to an understanding of the past, but also that our past manifests itself in ways we are not always conscious of, and concludes with the idea, as seen through the eyes of Johnnie Butler, that There�s no straight line in time, as your teacher�d once told you, making a neat beginning, middle and unfolding future. You see the past returning repeatedly in great undulating circles, neverending swirls expanding constantly to encompass the story of your life and of those who�ve come before you, and of those not yet born. Such an idea manifests an ongoing and deep personal interest. For this reason my exegesis begins with elements of my own life. The exegesis itself is a story of sorts, analysing my own journey through the many drafts of TMAS. It argues that the hybridised structure � involving first, second and third person narratives, diary entries, contemporary idiom and slang � is a suitable form through which to explore the pattern of experience of my Australian characters. To give integrity to such lives, a wide range of sources was used. Research involved personal interviews, videos, CDs, newspapers and magazines, all of which complemented traditional scholarly research into the lives of the Redfern inhabitants of Greek, Lebanese, indigenous and Irish-Catholic ethnicity, whose ages range from nine to 99 years of age. In the extensive redrafting, the writing was as experimental as it was imaginative.

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