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Jane Eyre as Meta-fiction

 

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WORKING on my collation of, and obsession with, metafiction written by women, I’ve just now finished reading Jane Eyre. Why it’s taken me so long to get to this wonderful book I don’t know, actually I do know, I started many times but the dated phrasing and the occasional long-winded sentences were a bit of a block. Urged on by my Instagram friends, I dove in and committed to it. So glad I did!

AS far as the meta-fiction classification goes, Jane Eyre comes under the umbrella of a novel where the narrator intentionally exposes herself as the author of the story. This is done in such a delicate and lovely way, simple and engaging. Throughout the book, Jane, our narrator, slips in moments of addressing the reader, many times she calls to our attention by addressing us, “Reader….” and proceeds to tell us something of her intimate thoughts. The most famous, Reader, I married him. It’s delightful and personal, and endears us to her as we become again and again her private confident.

Having read this lovely work, I’m now going on to read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. I’ve read WSS before, but as it’s written as a prequel and response to Jane Eyre, I’m dying to dive back in with a new interest.

 

 

Aus Women Writers Challenge 2017

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Somehow I completely missed last year’s challenge. Apparently, I signed up, can’t remember that! And then proceeded to be unwell all year, so let’s start fresh!

I’m going for the Franklin Challenge this year. I will read at least ten novels by Australian women, and review a few. This is more than I usually commit to, but I’ve found Aussie women’s books are so engaging and gritty and satisfying to read that I want an excuse (and impetus) to read more. My reviews will be short this year, to free up time for my own writing and lots more reading. I’m also committing to the Classics challenge within the Aus Women’s challenge, reading at least two Aussie classics.

I’m going to leave my list open and see what comes out to grab me this year, but I will be starting with these two:25460514.jpg

Ressurection Bay (crime fiction) by Emma Viskic:

WINNER OF THE DAVITT AWARDS’ Best Adult Novel, Best Debut Book, Readers’ Choice Award. WINNER OF THE NED KELLY AWARD for Best First Fiction

Blurb: Caleb Zelic, profoundly deaf since early childhood, has always lived on the outside – watching, picking up telltale signs people hide in a smile, a cough, a kiss. When a childhood friend is murdered, a sense of guilt and a determination to prove his own innocence sends Caleb on a hunt for the killer. But he can’t do it alone. Caleb and his troubled friend Frankie, an ex-cop, start with one clue: Scott, the last word the murder victim texted to Caleb. But Scott is always one step ahead.

This gripping, original and fast-paced crime thriller is set between a big city and a small coastal town, Resurrection Bay, where Caleb is forced to confront painful memories. Caleb is a memorable protagonist who refuses to let his deafness limit his opportunities, or his participation in the investigation. But does his persistence border on stubbornness? And at what cost? As he delves deeper into the investigation Caleb uncovers unwelcome truths about his murdered friend – and himself. (details from Echo Publishing )

and for the Classic part of the Challenge I will start off with Human Toll by Barabara Baynton (Literary Fiction)  published in 1907. I may ‘read’ part of it as an audio as it’s a difficult read, full of Aussie slang.

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The audio is free online in a few places : LibriVox, ZippyShare, YouTube. Sue at Whispering Gums writes an excellent post on barbara Baynton and her writings. There are papers on Human Toll at Australian Feminist Studies and Uni of Woolongong, but I have yet to find a review, let me know if you see one or write one!

Blurb: WHAT was this blocking the tallow-scoop? Boshy, secretly styled ‘The Lag, ‘ or ‘One Eye, ‘ bent to see. Leisurely he thrust down a groping hand and drew up, but not out, a fatclogged basil-belt. Hastily his other hand clawed it conferringly, then with both he forced it back again into its greasy hidingplace of past long years. Cautiously his one eye went from door to window, then he rolled the fat-can with its mouth to the wall, and, going out, he took a sweeping survey. The sky and plain still drowsed dreamily, and neither the sick Boss’s home, nor Nungi the half-caste’s hut on the other side of the riversplit plain, showed sign of smoke. The only gleam of life was a breath-misted string of cows filing leisurely but lovingly to their penned calves. Boshy entered the hut and shut and bolted both door and window, then rolled the precious casket, a rusty nail-keg, before the door, and to further insure his sense of security sat on it. He made no attempt to examine his treasure. He was certain the contents of that gold-lined belt were old Miser Baldy’s hoard. For a few moments he sat quivering, gloating greedily. Musingly his one eye roamed all over the hut. Not a splinter in the walls that he, and many others, had not probed as with a tooth-pick, for this coveted ‘plant’; not a crack or mortised joint in the roof; not a mouse-hole but had been tunnelled to the bitter end, for tenant above or below. Nor had the search stopped at the hut, for had not a night-ghouling Chinaman, in his hunt for this hoard, gone the dauntless but fruitless length of disinterring and stripping poor old Baldy? And now just by a fluke he had struck it. Could it be true? Was he only dreaming? And again he thrust in a confirming hand. ‘Gord A’mighty!’ burst from him as his felt certainty electrified him

Seven excellent Snapchat tips for authors

Bloomberg recently declared that over 150 million people are using snapchat, daily. That’s more users than there are on twitter. So as an author, why wouldn’t you get on board?

But how can we as authors best use snapchat as a tool? Read my seven tips for snap- chatting authors at Book machine

Add yourself to this list of snapchatting authors

 

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download your free copy of – A COLD GAZE – poetry from Julie Proudfoot

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Download a free copy of A COLD GAZE

Poetry from Julie Proudfoot

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Writer Talks: Julie Proudfoot

Had a lovely chat with Nadia L. King about writing and travel and social media, thank you, Nadia, was fun!

Julie Proudfoot grew up in country Victoria, Australia and has lived in Melbourne, London and California. She is an Australian writer who has had fiction, poetry and non-fiction works published in …

Source: Writer Talks: Julie Proudfoot

Published by Xoum: Excerpt From The Neighbour – Chapter five

SCROLL DOWN TO READ an excerpt from Chapter five (5) of The Neighbour

A Psychological Drama -you will never think of your neighbour in the same way again.

(Winner of the Seizure Viva Novella prize)

PAPERBACK:

U.S. Amazon

Australian bookstore Booktopia $13.25

Australian Bookstore Readings  $14.95

Australian Bookstore Seizure $14,99

Australian bBookstore New South Books $14.95

E-BOOK:

U.S. Amazon 

Amazon Australia $4.99

Kobo 

Xoum Kindle, Google Books Ibookstore Kobo

He dips the syringe in the bottle and draws it back to suck the ink within it. Bubbles rush and crackle. He dismantles his pen and pokes the syringe into it. The slow, detailed movements smooth his frayed mind. The ink, like black blood, fills the pen shaft quickly. He takes the syringe to the kitchen sink and pulls the plunger out. It sucks against itself with the pressure that has nowhere else to go.

The floorboards creek in the bedroom; he lifts his chin to listen. Laney is up now. He turns the water on fast.

Laney had laughed about his pen and ink when he first used it in front of her. ‘Who are you? Professor Plum?’ He wanted to explain that it isn’t the pen that he’s interested in. It’s something about how easy it is to fill it up again once it’s drained; it satisfies. But her laugh was a taunt, so he let it go.

He holds the clean syringe up to the light of the window to check for any spots that remain. One little dry speck in the ink will cause uneven lines, bumpy lines that annoy like rocks on a road.

Sam’s feet patter on the floorboards down the hallway towards the lounge, where he’ll switch the television on. And in a daze, he’ll snuggle under his blanket. He’d given up the need for his blanket last year, but now needs it near him always. Luke will sit with him later, and they’ll comfort each other.

In his office, Luke sits before his diary, and places a cross over today. He obliterates it, done, no more today. Now all he has to do is live it. He flicks the diary pages and counts the days that lead up to the anniversary of Lily’s death: seven months and twelve days. This is how much time he has given himself to repay his debt to Angie.

The time feels different depending on whether he looks forward to it or braces for it. Maybe he’s wrong to control things this way, but he has to do something; the idea of life, or no life, after that day fills him with relief, like a bloodletting. Some say suicide is selfish. He doesn’t want it to be that way. He tries to get his head around this idea, that it would be selfish. He can’t think of anyone who won’t carry on in life as though nothing had happened, who won’t think life was better with him gone, who won’t think justice had been done.

He sees Laney on the deck outside the window above the desk. She’s taken up smoking again, and she’s taken it on with gusto. She draws on it hard as if to fuel her life.

She pulls the cigarette from her mouth and calls out across the yard, and in a sudden movement waves her arm about wildly at something in the garden. Cigarette ashes float away like snowflakes. He wishes it would snow; it’s the most innocent thing he can think of. Laney calls out again and jumps off the deck. Luke leans forward to see who she calls to. A large brown dog skulks around the scrub of the far garden with its head low and its ears back. Laney moves closer, but shoos it with her cigarette. ‘Shoo, shoo.’

Frightened by her calls and arm flinging, the dog bounds away. It bends its long neck to turn and look back at her. When it sees that Laney doesn’t give chase, it returns to the same spot in the garden. It takes careful steps among the weeds.

Laney shoos and stomps and calls out at it. ‘Get outta here, go home.’ Eventually, it runs, the poor dog, down the side of the house, and this time is gone.

Laney is in her pyjamas. Her hair hangs lank around her pale face. She stands metres from the garden bed that had drawn the dog’s attention. Luke taps on the window with his bony knuckle. She doesn’t hear. She steps closer to the garden bed. She picks her path in bare feet across the sparse brown grass while two fingers cling in the air to the cigarette that has burned down to the yellow butt.

Luke taps again on the window, harder, quicker. She looks up, but doesn’t see him wave at her. He stands up suddenly and knocks his chair backwards. It glides and crashes against the wall. He crooks his finger in the old metal hook of the timber window, and yanks at it once, then again, and forces it open. It halts at an inch wide and won’t budge. He puts his mouth to the gap and calls to Laney.

‘Breakfast!’

She lowers herself to the ground, crouches, and parts the small bushes to look into the garden bed. Blood pumps into his forehead. He imagines a bloodletting that sets him free, and he calls to her again. This time, it is more urgent.

‘We should have breakfast now!’

Laney finds the dead animal.

When his brother drowned, their mother approached them as they floated in the water. She smiled and said something. She thought they were playing, swimming in the water tank that was sawn in half just for them. But what she saw was his brother, as he floated, face down. He wafted in the swells that still billowed and sank from the movements of their play. And Luke, with his back pressed hard to the wriggly tin wall, tried to get distance from the situation that was Bob. And his mother’s hand clasped to her mouth so hard that he can still recall the sound, like a bird hitting a window: Fwomp.

Laney claps her hand to her mouth as she rises and steps away from the unkempt tumble of weeds and forgotten plants that provide the hurried cover for the dead cat

 

Where is The Neighbour Available?

PAPERBACK:

U.S. Amazon

Australian bookstore Booktopia $13.25

Australian Bookstore Readings  $14.95

Australian Bookstore Seizure $14,99

Australian bBookstore New South Books $14.95

E-BOOK:

U.S. Amazon 

Amazon Australia $4.99

Kobo 

Xoum Kindle, Google Books Ibookstore Kobo

 

 

Clunky sentences? Read that stuff out loud. Writer’s Diary: 2

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The last thing I do before moving on to the next chapter to edit, is read that thing out loud — shut the door and say it loud! — It’s a piece of advice people give you but you never do, right? I started doing it b/c the couple of times I’ve had to record a short story for radio and podcasts, I found that in the act of doing so I picked up so many clunky phrases or yucky sentences. And it’s especially helpful if you’re a fan of sentences that have rhythm and feel good and are nice to listen to. After reading my stories for said radio/podcast I actually changed a lot of words and had to resubmit the written story. If you imagine, while reading, that it is for radio and therefore u need to pronounce clearly, it really hones in on those ugly words – and you never know when, in the future, you might have to read that out loud to someone, so best fix that shit now.

Chat about meta-fiction novels

At Swim-two-birds
At Swim-two-birds

— at its simplest and most basic, meta-fiction is fiction, about fiction —

(See below for an incomplete list of elements that make a work meta-fiction)

One of my greatest loves is a good ol’ meta-fiction novel. Meta-fiction refers to fictional works that draw attention to the fact that they are a work of fiction.

Wikipedia’s definition: ‘Metafiction is a form of fiction in which the text – either directly or through the characters within – is ‘aware’ that it is a form of fiction.’

I’ve begun a list of female meta-fiction authors here, as mentors for my own writing.

My favourite meta-fictional work, At-Swim-Two-Birds, is a meta-fiction-feast – a story within a story within a story within a story within a story. And my favourite section of AS-T-B has the characters of one story give the writer a good beating. It’s not so much the thrashing I love, but that the characters take revenge on the author. It’s a scenario that I’d love to include in my own novel one day.

And I couldn’t help myself, I’ve written my own little meta-fictional work, but it doesn’t have an author beating. At present it’s doing the rounds of agents, so wish it luck will you? The main character, a homeless man, (male mental health is a theme that runs through all my books to date)  befriends a woman who is a struggling author. She steals his life story to use as a novel, and as the story unfolds, it becomes apparent this story is the novel itself.

Over the years I’ve read a few meta-fictional works that I’ll list elsewhere on this blog. I’m gradually adding the notes that I made at the time of reading, not reviews of the books, but simple notes that I made with no intention of blogging – at the time there was no such thing as blogging, let alone an internet.

As a bit of a guide to understanding meta-fiction Wikipedia lists these common meta-fictive devices in literature:

  • A story about a writer who creates a story
  • A story that features itself (as a narrative or as a physical object) as its own prop or MacGuffin
  • A story containing another work of fiction within itself
  • A story addressing the specific conventions of story, such as title, character conventions, paragraphing or plots
  • A novel where the narrator intentionally exposes him or herself as the author of the story
  • A book in which the book itself seeks interaction with the reader
  • A story in which the readers of the story itself force the author to change the story
  • Narrative footnotes, which continue the story while commenting on it
  • A story in which the characters are aware that they are in a story
  • A story in which the characters make reference to the author or his previous work

A related genre is the self-reflexive novel: a fictional work in which the author refers to themselves in the work, and/or refers to the work itself.

And then there is the anti-novel which is better described as a more experimental work. Dictionary.com defines anti-novel as, ‘a literary work in which the author rejects the use of traditional elements of novel structure, especially in regard to development of plot and character.’ Wikipedia defines the anti-novel as, ‘any experimental work of fiction that avoids the familiar conventions of the novel, and instead establishes its own conventions.’

Of course, a novel can be one or all of the above, makes definitions complicated, doesn’t it.

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