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Author: Bruce Woodcock

Peter Carey's fictions explore the experiences lurking in the cracks of normality, and are inhabited by hybrid characters living in between spaces or on the margins. Carey took a circuitous route into literature and writing. Characterising Carey's stories takes us to the heart of his fictional practice. Most adopt a mixture of narrative modes, a central feature of his writing. In Carey stories, terminal societies trap characters in drive-in movie car parks, or offer the bizarre possibility of exchanging bodies, or generate a counter-revolutionary resistance movement led by fat men. Grouping the stories around themes and issues allows for a fairly comprehensive insight into Carey's shorter works, and provides some key threads for later discussions of the longer fiction. Four of the most significant areas are: American imperialism and culture; capitalism; power and authority; and gender. In Bliss, the hippy capitalists of 'War Crimes' are replaced by the more conventional scenario of hippies versus capitalists. Illywhacker examines twentieth-century Australian history with the savage humour and fantasy of the earlier fiction now placed within an epic framework. Oscar and Lucinda might be termed 'retro-speculative' fiction. The Tax Inspector is Carey's most savage novel to date, and it captures Marx's vision of the ravening effects of capital. The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith marks a return to the overt alternative world-building found in the early stories with their fantastic and fable-like scenarios. The overlap between post-modernism and post-colonialism in Carey has been investigated by a number of critics.

Bruce Woodcock

of what a fiction should be. His work refuses to establish a smooth narrative effect in the ‘classic’ traditions of European narrative art. Instead, he exploits cross-mixtures which create dislocations, disrupting any supposed norms of fictional practice. As we have seen, his arrival coincided with the emergence of other writers and literary trends with which his work seems to have analogies, but he somehow escapes categorisation with any single group of them. Nevertheless, we can see connections thematically and technically. His early published work was often

in Peter Carey
Bruce Woodcock

Tristan Smith , Tristan reveals, like the narrator’s view of Lucinda at the end of Oscar and Lucinda , that ‘although I did not know it, my unusual life was really just beginning’ (414). As if to echo that, Carey has published yet another innovation in his fictional practice, this time into children’s literature. The Big Bazoohley takes the idea of adventurous risk-taking as its main idea. The Big Bazoohley of the title refers to the notion of life’s big gamble, the main chance, whose existence nine-year-old Sam has absorbed from his gambler

in Peter Carey
Bruce Woodcock

the business and criminal worlds of Sydney. Gran Catchprice’s dream of a flower garden and her charitable attitude to the family business are poisoned by secrets and the corrosive effects of a disintegrating social system. The product of her attempt at benevolent capitalism is her psychopathic grandson, Benny. The brutal story-line is matched by an urgent narrative, almost filmic in intensity, which, along with the urgency of the social issues, marks a dramatic and adventurous shift of direction for Carey’s fictional practice. The framework

in Peter Carey
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Bruce Woodcock

Things are becoming less and less impossible. ( Collected Stories , 60) C HARACTERISING Carey’s stories takes us to the heart of his fictional practice. Most adopt a mixture of narrative modes, a central feature of his writing. They contain elements of science fiction, fantasy, fable and satire. Like much science fiction, many are explorations of ideas and possibilities, experiments in subversive thinking or ‘cognitive estrangement’. 1 Carey has described them as ‘a collection of “what if” stories’, 2 which

in Peter Carey
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Sam Rohdie

. Disaffection toward narrative fiction or more precisely the felt need to question it belonged to a historical necessity. The film documentaries of the late 1920s and 1930s were in part provoked by political and social events which it was felt the fiction film did not adequately address (if at all). For the sake of the coherence and effectiveness of its fictions, reality, however defined, was a disturbance to highly organised, coded and institutionalised fictional practices. The forms of narrative fiction were, if not threatened early on in the history of the cinema

in Film modernism
Gerd Bayer

Erasmus to that of Cervantes’ and thus provided ‘the source of fictional practice today’.30 The Humanist focus on reading and learning as a serious philological task and simultaneously a form of individual labour breaks open the stability of texts, turning them into the kind of fluid writing that, centuries later, post-structuralist thinkers would deconstruct after the death of the author. As Kinney perceptively notes: ‘Humanist poetics is thus a poetics of palimpsests – of meaning that is located in a new text as it resituates itself on those that have gone before.’31

in Novel horizons
John Thieme

attempt to transcribe an observed social reality onto the printed page. Narayan’s discursive universe is a space where the tectonic plates of ancient and modern narrative come together and when these move, as they frequently do in his novels, new forms of expression emerge. Narayan’s fiction is centrally concerned with the life of writing and this study views his sixty-year career as a uniquely individual instance of a novelist’s struggle to forge a distinctive fictional practice from disparate discursive traditions and as a fascinating barometer of the changing

in R.K. Narayan
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W. J. McCormack

these last words as a yearning which has been fulfilled have been provided. This is not a matter of plot but of technique. Concentrate for a moment on the phrase the body of the text, and one can see how vampirism is just a gluttonous synonym for plagiarism and ‘Carmilla’ a summary in fiction of Le Fanu’s fictional practice. In turn, In a Glass Darkly could be

in Dissolute characters
Andrew Teverson

align Rushdie with certain postmodern fictional practices, but, because these literary devices are also intended to reflect upon, and have a discursive impact upon, the world that Rushdie believes to exist outside the book, they do not make Rushdie into a postmodernist in the fullest sense of the term. As Rushdie himself has argued, he ‘does not accept the postmodernist label’ because postmodernists ‘don’t accept that literature is referential’: Post-modernism has entered me, in the sense that it’s in the air, but I haven’t really studied its

in Salman Rushdie