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My most sustained attempt to quit writing forever was in the mid-nineties. I’d completed a novel that was greeted with indifference by publishers and was courting self-pity. I’d been writing for two decades, experimenting with scripts, comedy skits and short stories for adults and children, but had met with little success. The sensible course of […]
Writers love to evoke music when eulogising their work. They talk of the “rhythm of language.” They want their prose to “sing”. They crave musical fluidity. Compiling a comprehensive bibliography of fiction influenced by music would be daunting. It would range from the breathless descriptions of jazz in Kerouac to the turgid treatises on classical […]
After deciding my novel, Earworm, would be a tale told by a love song, I set about conceiving the voice of my narrator. I wanted something urgent, funny and non-human. The language needed to be rhythmical and awash with musical allusion and imagery. The vocabulary should reference sounds and musical jargon. My narrator would indulge […]
In 1876, Mark Twain published a short comic piece entitled A Literary Nightmare (also known as Punch, Brothers, Punch!). In this fictionalised memoir, Twain describes reading a jaunty popular poem in a newspaper which then lodges in his head. The predominance of the repetitive rhythms and rhymes shred his concentration, rendering him incapable of writing. […]
Several decades ago, at Adelaide’s Writers Week, I was dragooned into constructing a ramp for Dorothy Hewett. I’d spent the afternoon imbibing with an acquaintance called Joe Public (there are many embellishments in this story, but Joe’s name isn’t one of them). Joe’s fashion sense blended hobo haute couture with dire dentistry while I was […]
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