Portfolio of ‘The Master Shavers’ Association of Paradise’ and ‘How to Mend a Broken Heart’

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Research background The research is in the field of creative writing. Dennis Schofield has argued that the second person voice inscribes the reader as the author. Mary Karr has used the second person voice to blur the boundaries between fiction and memoir. Jay MacInerney’s fragile second person voice character is disconnected from his environment but directly accessible to the reader. These stories address the research question: which is the most appropriate voice (first, second, third person) to employ in representations of characters whose lives are vastly different from those of the author and reader? Research contribution Working on this project (including a number of drafts) demonstrated that the use of first person voice when presenting a character whose experiences are vastly different from those of the author and reader can sound implausible. The third person voice is too detached. The second person voice – used in the final versions of both these stories – can provoke empathy without risking tokenism. The reader cannot escape the imperative of “you”. Research significance Master Shavers’ appeared in the Penguin collection A Country Too Far. How to Mend a Broken Heart appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend. I was invited to present on the Master Shavers’ collection at the Perth Writers’ Festival and seven other public events. The SMH reviewer wrote of a ‘palpable sense of the writer’s higher duties to truth telling and bearing witness’.
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