Span: Journal of the South Pacific Assoc for Cwlth Lit and Language Studies
Number 36, 1992
Postcolonial Fictions:
Proceedings of the SPACLALS Triennial Conference 1992
Edited by Michèle Drouart

Engendering the Bicentennial Reader: Sally Morgan, Mark Henshaw and the critics

Wenche Ommundsen

The focus for this paper is the reader, or the instance of reception. To put it simply, I could say that I am interested in the relationship between implied and real readers, but, as I have serious misgivings about both of these concepts, I shall need to define my project more precisely. On the one hand, I want to examine the various ways in which literary texts position their readers to interpret textual strategies, and, rather than looking for a univocal implied reader, acknowledge that reader positioning tends to be plural, often contradictory. On the other hand, I will consider real readers as equally complex, constructed and conflictual, created at the moment of interaction between textual and contextual factors. The title of my project, "Engendering the Reader," signals my intention to theorize the birth of the reader, or more precisely, the moment of reception, in an attempt to move beyond the rather sterile arguments concerning the relative power of authors and readers, or of texts and contexts. The term "engender," moreover, contains within it two of my main concerns for this study: genre and gender. I wish to examine not merely the impact of generic determination and gender positioning for the reading of literary texts, but to consider the interaction between the two: how women and men are interpellated differently by particular genres, how notions of genre are construed in gender-specific terms.

The present paper represents an early and as yet undertheorized stage of my work. I have chosen to focus here on two texts published and commented on around the time of the Bicentennial celebrations in Australia, primarily because this particular climate of reception produced a heigthened self-consciousness of social, cultural and political conditions and, it would seem, an almost compulsory gesture, by both writers and critics, towards definitions, redefinitions and critiques of the notion of national identity. Sally Morgan's My Place (1987) and Mark Henshaw's Out of the Line of Fire (1988) were undoubtedly the greatest publishing successes at the time, and the very volume of response to these texts testifies to the fact that they both, although in very different ways, touched at a raw nerve of the national consciousness. In the context of this particular study, they have, moreover, the advantage of offering an interesting set of contrasts, in their generic specifications, in their gendering of the reader, in their appropriation, finally, of discourses of national identity and national difference.

In 1988 the question of how Australia had treated the country's original inhabitants had become a collective bad conscience plaguing white Australia, just as black demonstrations became a regular feature of of the bicentennial events. The Aboriginal question could no longer be ignored. It had become, as Veronica Brady put it, the "original sin" of the nation.1 The story of Aboriginal Australia had not only become tellable, it was a story that had to be told in order for both black and white Australians to start to come to terms with the burden of their past. My comments on My Place centre on the question of white guilt: how does the text position the reader in relation to the life stories it relates? . . . how did readers respond to the frequently conflicting positions offered them by the text?

My Place is primarily aimed at non-Aboriginal readers. Its language is engaging and accessible, and, while some unorthodoxies of spelling and grammar are retained to create a sense of oralcy in the written narrative, there are few examples of specifically Aboriginal speech patterns which may have alienated readers unfamiliar with them. Generically, the book straddles several categories. It has characteristics of both oral and written narrative; it is a factual account which includes many features generally associated with fiction. It thus positions its reader in several, not always compatible ways. The audience of oral narrative interacts with the narrator, develops a relationship with him or her which affects the telling of the story. In My Place the reader cannot be present at the story-telling scene, but s/he has a substitute, Sally herself, who plays the role of interactive audience to her relatives' narratives. The reader is thus invited to join Sally in the intimate relationship she entertains with the other narrators, a relationship of confidence, emotional involvement and identification. The white reader in this respect becomes, for the time of the story, a kind of honorary black, viewing black experience as from within. As the readers of a written book, however, we are allowed greater detachment, both cultural and personal.

An autobiography is, of course, a kind of history, and My Place offers a guarantee of the factual value of its accounts. The reader is positioned to trust the tale, see it as the alternative to the story of Australia told by white history books. "There's been nothing written about people like us, all the history's about the white man,"2 says Gladys, and My Place offers itself as part of that "other side of the story" (164) which so urgently needs telling. "You can't put no lies in a book" (325) says Daisy Corunna, revealing the illiterate's exaggerated respect for the written word. But the truth she tells is not the whole truth. She refuses to tell about the most painful aspects of her life and her silences structure the story as much as what she does choose to tell. She also has a tendency to forget that her story is to become part of a book and frequently adopts a "between you and me" tone, even, ironically, instructing Sally not to tell anyone else. My Place thus frequently renegotiates its contract with the reader; its story is sometimes public, sometimes private, sometimes open, sometimes secretive, sometimes aggressive, sometimes confiding.

My Place is at the same time a carefully structured story, reading - as many critics have noted - more like a novel than a historical account; it contains elements of a number of fictional genres, such as the detective novel, the quest romance, the battler genre and the foundling story. The reader's involvement in the fictional aspect of the text is more imaginative, motivated not by a search for truth so much as a sense of design, linguistic patterning and narrative closure. The relationship between narrative "truth" and historical truth cast doubt over the factual accuracy of parts of the story. Moreover, the text straddles two very different versions of autobiographical writing: Western autobiography whose main concern is the quest of an individual, and the Aboriginal life story. Aboriginal culture does not distinguish between "history" and "fiction" in quite the same way as the Western tradition does, and besides, the life story is more concerned with communal than with individual destiny.3 In a paper on My Place, writer and academic, Mudrooroo, describes the Aboriginal life story in the following terms:

. . . not only is [it] a story about a person; but often about a family, or community. It is fixated in place, and must have believable characters, in that they must be recognizable as Aborigines by other Aborigines, especially those of the immediate family. In these accounts problems arise in that such a genre is community-based and is written with the community in mind. It also must be seen as "truth" and must connect with a common oral historical tradition to which other Aborigines can relate. When I write "truth," I enclose it in quotation marks because "truth" in such a text is not only written to a genre, but there enters the Aboriginal concept of "shame," a concept of self, family and community censorship which must be acknowledged and held to. Aborigine writers, and here is the art, sift the "truth" to arrive at a valid community document and not an individualist manifesto of individual emancipation.4

It would probably be correct to say, however, that Morgan draws more on white than on Aboriginal narrative genres in My Place, and that the insistence on truth which punctuates her book leaves little room for even cautious objections that its structuring principle owes more to narrative logic or to Aboriginal and communal notions of truth than to historical accuracy as perceived by white culture. Mudrooroo himself makes this point in his response to My Place in Writing from the Fringe: A Study of Modern Aboriginal Literature:

Sally Morgan's book is a milepost in Aboriginal literarature in that it marks a stage when it is considered O.K. to be Aboriginal as long as you are young, gifted and not very black. It is an individualised story and the concerns of the Aboriginal community are of secondary importance.5

How did bicentenary readers respond to the somewhat conflicting demands made on them by Morgan's book? Initial reviewers almost totally ignored its generic complexity and greeted it emotionally, hailed it as an "Australian classic," a "compelling story of humanity triumphing over persecution."6 "Reading My Place by Sally Morgan," writes Judith Brett in The Australian Book Review, "reminds one of how powerful a book can be when there is an urgent story to be told."7 Nene Gare, reviewing the book in Westerly, offers an exemplary case of the reader responding to the invitation to identify with the characters and to banish all critical distance between reader and text. Her reaction speaks simultaneously of Morgan's success in positioning the reader as a sympathetic confidant and of the need to expiate white guilt:

Imagine yourself to be Arthur. Imagine yourself right into his life. Work from sunup until dark and fall asleep in a few chaffbags spread over the hay in the hayshed. Get right into that life. Don't just read this at a distance, comfortably. Get in there and work until you're staggering and take a few blows into the bargain.

This book should, at long last, penetrate the thick skin of all Australian settlers and suburbanites. It should bring home to them - to us - all who are living comfortably and contentedly on their land - how miserably we have failed the original settlers.8

One reason, perhaps, why My Place had the appeal that it did among white readers is that it is a book which offers some hope for peaceful racial cohabitation in the future. Its anger is directed primarily at past injustices, whereas present conflicts, such as the land rights issue, or the legal battle over black deaths in custody, are passed over in silence. It is possible, for a white reader of My Place, to feel that racial discrimination in Australia was of the past only, and that blacks now have emerged, triumphantly, from their struggle. Morgan's optimism does not remove the guilt of white Australians, but it makes it possible for them to envisage a time when such guilt has ceased to dominate their national consciousness. It is precisely in this sense that Morgan's book differs from other, and much less commercially successful, Aboriginal accounts of past and present discrimination. As this passage from a review by John Mulvaney indicates, it presented, unlike other Aboriginal voices at the time, a discourse white Australia could feel relatively comfortable about:

Her constructive approach contrasts with the negative, strident outpourings of those media activists who claim to speak for their people, but whose intolerance and ignorance is as anti-social as the white evils which they denounce.9

A second "wave" of commentary on My Place highlighted the difficulties created by the book's complex generic and cultural derivation. Adopting a critical distance from the intimate narrator-reader relationship posited by the text itself, critics such as Eric Michaels, Joan Newman, Stephen Muecke and Carolyn Bliss have variously stressed the contradictions inherent in its structure.10 Newman argues that the book's popularity is due precisely to its successful negotiation of a number of potentially conflicting reading positions, whereas Michaels deems the "deceptively frank autobiographical style" the basis for "an epistemological trap."11 Muecke identifies the epistemological conflict in terms of the book's confessional style, which masks the culturally constructed discourses from which it derives (subjectivity, feminism, Christianity, New Age Mysticism).12 "[B]urdened by a Romantic legacy of the expressive self" and romances of liberation, books such as My Place stand in danger of perpetuating the ideological practices which produce the very repression they denounce:

By concentrating on the self, writers and readers can applaud the ethical reconstructions of autobiography precisely because they leave vacant the field of social determinations about production and consumption which would allow us to interrogate the persistence of specific colonialist and racist ideas.13

Underlying this type of criticism is the poststructuralist scepticism towards all notions of a unified self and the "authenticity" of the speaking voice. At the time of growing interest in postcolonial culture and criticism, books such as My Place confirm the split between critics who call for a powerful and authentic voice for formerly marginalized groups and those who, on the other hand, seek to deconstruct, according to a different critical practice, the discursive formations through which such marginalization has been authorized.

The difficulty of rendering Aboriginal narratives and Aboriginal experience in Western forms, and in accordance with Western modes of circulation, was more clearly evidenced by the publication of Morgan's second book, the life story of an Aboriginal man, Jack McPhee. This book has been condemned by black communities because it contains knowledge which should not be revealed to anyone but initiated members of the group to which it belongs. It is, as Stephen Muecke writes, "a serious transgression of Aboriginal "copyright" to speak unlawfully a text which "belongs" to someone else."14 Another position for the reader, that of outlawed and uninitiated eavesdropper, emerges here, a position which perhaps in many instances defines the white reader of black texts. The very loud silences of My Place testifiy to the difficulty of communication across cultural boundaries.

The distinction between silence and speech also works to structure the narrative in terms of gender. Arthur, the only male storyteller and the first to tell his story to Sally, does not wish to preserve the silence around Aboriginal experience, and his tale is self-consciously public. Gladys and Daisy have to be coaxed out of their silence; they are reluctant storytellers, unwilling to part with the painful secrets of their past life. My Place is mostly a story about the lives of women, and about matrilinear family bonds. The history of the fathers is silenced, although it looms large in the lives of the women. The white fathers come to stand for the sins perpetuated by white Australia on its black inhabitants. In order to look forward to a new life unblemished by the shame of the past, the narrators must edit out the sins of the fathers. The life stories of My Place are, with the exception of Arthur's, told by women; the oral narratives are, moreover, told to a woman, Sally herself. The stories focus on family relations as much as on individual selfhood, and they emerge in a context which, through the interaction between narrator and narratee, guarantees the intimacy and familiarity often associated with women's autobiography. The gendering of the reader must to some extent follow this pattern. While I would not go as far as to argue that male readers are excluded from the narrative contract, there is a sense in which the stories invoke a context of female bonding, and that males must eavesdrop in order to listen in. At the end of the story, this exclusion of the reader becomes more universal: the text's refusal to solve the riddle of paternity thwarts the expectations raised by the quest motif: we are reminded that the narrative intimacy, and the narrative momentum were illusions, and we must back away from full knowledge and resume our lives as whites, as males, or, simply, as strangers.

Mark Henshaw's novel Out of the Line of Fire, the second bicentenary text I want to discuss, could hardly be more different from Morgan's My Place. Its referent is not Australia, and it is not, on the face of it, a book concerned to comment on social issues or cultural specificities. The setting for Out of the Line of Fire is European - Heidelberg, Berlin and Klagenfurt - and its preoccupations are philosophical and literary rather than social. The only Australian presence in the novel is the anonymous narrator, who travels to Europe to study and write and who later, back in Australia, tries to figure out the puzzle of his lost friend Wolfi. Australia is only just named - the country exists merely as a measure of distance, a kind of perspective on the narrator's European experience. As an Australian text, Out of the Line of Fire stresses our culture's close connections with Western civilization and with the international aspects of much contemporary art. The na•vety of the Australian narrator, his inability to grasp the narrative strategies of his cunning friend, at the same time marks him as an outsider, the colonial visitor to the centre of culture. The very absence of references to Australia structures Out of the Line of Fire in a manner not dissimilar to the painful silences in My Place.

Unlike My Place, this is a text which openly acknowledges its fictionality, celebrates it, even. Like so many texts in the postmodern tradition it explicitly identifies with, it plays with the relationship between fiction and reality, questions the status of what we think of as real and presents the reader with a great many fictions, and realities, affected by the instability and the unreality of the overtly fictitious. "I felt like a character in a novel written by myself who runs into a character in a novel written by himself," a character observes, a telling comment on the kind of metafictional complications which run through the book.15 It is also a text which scrupulously lists its intertextual ancestry: Calvino, Handke, Pirandello, Abish, Musil, thus inserting itself into a European tradition which prefers the self-consciously fictional to the arguably deceitful claim to truth underlying realist fiction. "You begin to wonder where truth actually lies" (6), muses the narrator, his pun a telling contrast to Daisy Corunna's "[y]ou can't put no lies in a book" which defines the narrative contract of My Place. And yet Out of the Line of Fire is, in its own way, out to tell the truth. Having introduced his story by reference to a number of famous literary texts, the narrator ends his first chapter on a question: "But what does one do if the novel is based on fact?" (4) It turns out, of course, that nothing is more deceitful than apparent fact, but the question of truth, the moral obligation to truth, even, haunts the novel and puts into perspective its playful assertions about universal fictionality.

Readers of Out of the Line of Fire are thus put in a position to distrust the tale, to distance themselves from the characters and their various realities. On the other hand, this is also a book which requires the reader to participate actively in the construction of the story. The novel turns on a paradox in which authors, readers and characters become virtually interchangeable: the novel's main narrator, for example, is aware of himself as an author in search of a character (Wolfi), but throughout most of the story he performs the function of reader, sifting through the various documents Wolfi has left in his wake, trying to make sense of them. In a final twist, however, he discovers that he is merely a character written into a story authored by Wolfi himself, a puppet whose every move has been stage-managed by his own protagonist. Reading is thus presented on the one hand as a kind of creative detective work, on the other as an activity which is manipulated from within the text. Out of the Line of Fire, as one critic has suggested, is a book about reading, about making sense of the world as well of fiction.16

What kind of reader does Out of the Line of Fire set out to address? Henshaw's way of courting the reader involves the inclusion of a lot of fairly explicit sex which, it is assumed, appeals to most readers. On the other hand, the frequent references to the life and work of a number of other writers, and not least the numerous quotations from, and discussions of, major philosophers of the Western tradition, would seem likely to put off readers who are interested in nothing but a good, and occasionally sexy, read. Unlike Morgan's My Place, Out of the Line of Fire courts a readership which is educated and up to date with current trends in literature. Or, as one commentator put it when the book was launched: "With its mixture of high philosophy and low sex, Out of the Line of Fire seems certain to engage academic critics . . . "17

Henshaw's book certainly did engage the critics. The book was published by Penguin, Australia, and carried on its front cover the words "A dazzling debut . . . compulsive reading" signed by Don Anderson, a well-known critic and academic. Initial reviews echoed Anderson's enthusiasm. Dinny O'Hearn wrote in The Age:

The novel is both a joy to read and an aesthetic work to contemplate. Henshaw's mastery of his craft is stunning, his intelligence fiercely playful and his talent awesome.18

And Helen Daniel, in The Australian, started her review by declaring that the novel was "brilliant" and concluded that reading it gave her "that shiver of awe peculiar to the work of the great writers."19

Less complimentary reviews were fewer in number, but some objected to the rather gratuitous sex scenes, and to the pedantic and pretentious tone of the narrator. The most serious attacks appeared later, and it became clear that Out of the Line of Fire was going to be a book that divided readers - and critics - into those who approved and those who disapproved of postmodernism. The discussion brought out a number of conflicting views of the status of Australian literature and its relationship to literary trends in other parts of the world. To some critics, the fact that Henshaw's novel was "fashionable" was its greatest sin, to others its greatest asset. Critics such as Don Anderson and Helen Daniel were accused of orchestrating the success of the novel in order to change the direction of Australian literature, making it more responsive to the techniques and preoccupations of metafiction and postmodernism.

The book provided the occasion to indulge in the popular Australian sport of academic-bashing. This is part of Padraic P. McGuinness's assessment:

The local literary success of 1988 is a book called Out of the Line of Fire, which would appear unusual only to people who are not aware that it is, at least in my opinion, an inferior imitation of some recent fashions in European literature spiced up with a bit of gratuitous pornography. But when your acquaintaince with modern literature (as distinct from half-baked literary theories) is limited and several years behind the times, which is the case with most academic litterateurs in Australia, such derivativeness can appear impressive.20

In the context of a postmodern novel which makes much of its intertextual indebtedness, the accusation of being derivative would seem hardly appropriate. But what is really at stake here is not so much textual originality as the originality of Australian fiction, its difference from, in this case, European literature.

This particular aspect of the debate was brought out clearly in an article by David Parker published in the journal Critical Review, but also, in a shorter version, in The Age Monthly Review, where is was tellingly subtitled "Mark Henshaw's Novel and the New Cultural Cringe."21 Parker's main point is that Henshaw's novel appeals to the yuppies of the Australian readership; its cosmopolitan and up-to-date sophistication offers them the illusion that Australia has indeed graduated from its provincial and insular cultural tradition. "Burying the hick, speaking as the chic," he writes, "is simply an up-to-date expression of the old cultural cringe."22 However, as Philip Thomson points out in a response to Parker, there may well be important differences between the "new" cultural cringe of Henshaw and his followers, and the "old" cultural cringe with which Parker himself can be associated.23

The cultural cringe, as identified by A. A. Philips, was seen in particular to define Australia's relationship to what it identified as its "mother country," Britain. But British culture has been characterized by a "cringe" of its own, in its mistrust of everything foreign. The cultural nationalism which characterized Leavisite criticism led, as Thomson argues, to a rejection of both foreign intellectual discourses and international modernity. It is precisely this kind of cringe which survives in discourses such as Parker's when he denounces the trendy foreignness of Henshaw's novel. What the "case" of Out of the Line of Fire demonstrates, is not so much that a "new" cringe has come into existence in a derivative fascination with continental literature, theory and philosophy, as the fact that the old cringe, its eyes firmly directed towards what Australians used to call "home," still survives:

What David Parker's misconceived attack on Henshaw and his supporters demonstrates, however, is the continuing presence in Australian cultural life of demands - sometimes merely implicit - that we go back; back to a monocultural society, back to a "mother culture" already very narrowly defined before we ever got to it, back to an intellectual and cultural discourse which has the old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon virtues of plain speaking and mistrust of theory, back, that is - let us be clear - to intellectual xenophobia and monoglot fixation.24

One important aspect of the novel which surprisingly did not figure prominently in initial reviews is the question of how the novel presents sexual relations and female characters, also how it positions its readers in terms of gender. Frequent critical references to "soft porn" highlighted the provocative nature of the book's depiction of sex, but much of this was initially eclipsed by the discussion of formal experimentation. Female reviewers occasionally complained about the obviously sexist perspective on sexual experience,25 but it was only later that critics (ironically, for the most part, male), observed that all the female characters in the novel are somehow the same, fetishized into objects of male sexual fantasy.26 The erotics of the text in Out of the Line is a product of the desire of the book's male narrators, and the pleasure of the text, in this respect, would seem be confined to male readers only. Feminists often comment on the uses made of sex and gender in postmodern fiction and poststructuralist theorizing, arguing that metaphorical usage does not preclude a specific positioning of the reader in terms of gender. As Alice Jardine observes, the "feminine" has in French theorizing become "a metaphor without brakes"27; in narrative theory, the equation between sexual and textual intercourse is a critical commonplace. Out of the Line of Fire frequently draws on such parallels, most notoriously in the scene of Wolfi's encounter with the prostitute hired by his grandmother. Wolfi's orgasm is a double one: while the prostitute sucks him off, he experiences a philosophical as well as a physical revelation. In order to appreciate the connections between male orgasm and the philosophical intertext, the female reader of Out of the Line of Fire is thus required to "read in drag."

But, as several critics have pointed out, the characters also act out a classical Freudian family romance;28 the oedipal fantasy of the protagonist Wolfi (and by extension, the Australian narrator) could be interpreted as an unmasking of his sexist perspective. The theme of incest is, interestingly, central to the narrative momentum in both Out of the Line of Fire and My Place, in both cases linked to the quest for identity. The search for the lost fathers in My Place and the riddle concerning the real object of Wolfi's incestuous desire in Out of the Line of Fire structure the narrative into a detective-like plot in each case. The failure of resolution, moreover, signals a turning away from definitions of identity along oedipal lines. Sally Morgan decides to abandon her quest; the shame of the fathers has no place in her newly found individual and communal self. In the case of Wolfi, the oedipal struggle leads to the destruction of the family: the mother dies, Wolfi commits suicide, the father goes mad and the sister is left to look after the child resulting from the union between her mother and her brother. The Australian narrator reaches a dead end in his search for an answer to the riddle: not only he fails to reach the object of his quest, but he learns that his plot has been misguided throughout. I conclude on the suggestion that real Australian readers of both texts are invited to search for their identities elsewhere: outside the masterplots of European civilization, outside the sins of their white Australian fathers, outside, finally, the narrative structures which locate identity within the sexual vagaries of family history.

Deakin University

Notes

1 Veronica Brady, "Something That was Shameful," The Age Monthly Review, October 1987, 3.

2 Sally Morgan, My Place (Fremantle: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1987) 161. Further references will appear in parentheses in the text.

3 For a more detailed discussion of the autobiographical genre of My Place, see Joan Newman, "Race, Gender and Identity: My Place as Autobiography," in Delys Bird and Dennis Haskell, eds., Whose Place? (Pymble NSW: Angus & Robertson, 1992) 66-74.

4 Mudrooroo, "Notes on My Place by Sally Morgan," 1991. Unpublished paper written for the literature course "Narrative," Deakin University.

5 Mudrooroo Narogin, Writing from the Fringe: A Study of Modern Aboriginal LIterature (Melbourne: Hyland House, 1990) 149.

6 John Mulvaney, "Aboriginals in History," Overland, 111, 1988, 92.

7 Judith Brett, "Breaking the Silence," The Australian Book Review, August 1987, 9.

8 Nene Gare, review of My Place, Westerly, 3, 1987, 80, 81.

9 Mulvaney, 93.

10 See Eric Michaels, "Para-Ethnography," Art and Text 30 (1988): 42-51, Joan Newman, "Reader-response to Transcribed Oral Narrative: A Fortunate Life and My Place," Southerly 4 (1988): 376-389, Stephen Muecke, "Aboriginal Literature and the Repressive Hypothesis," Southerly, 4, 1988, 405-418 and Carolyn Bliss, "Categorical Infringement: Australian Prose in the Eighties," The Journal of Narrative Technique, 21.1 (Winter 1991): 43-51.

11 Michaels, 49, 50.

12 Muecke, 1988, 412.

13 Muecke, 1988, 416.

14 Stephen Muecke, "Aboriginal Oral Narritive in Ideological Contexts," in Sneja Gunew and Ian Reid, eds., Not the Whole Story: Tellings and Tailings from the ASPACLS Conference on Narrative (Sydney: Local Consumtion Press, 1984) 19.

15 Mark Henshaw, Out of the Line of Fire (Ringwood, Vic.: Penguin Books, 1988) 163. Further references will appear in parentheses in the text.

16 Kateryna Olijnyk Arthur, "Interview with Mark Henshaw," Span 28 (April 1989): 7.

17 Rod Usher in The Age, quoted by David Parker in "When are We? Some Thoughts on a Postmodern Novel in Australia," Critical Review 29 (1989): 69.

18 D. J. O'Hearn, "A First-timer Hits Literary Bullseye," The Age Saturday Extra, 4 June 1988, 13.

19 Helen Daniel, "Mirage Lines of Reality and Fiction," The Australian Weekend Magazine, 4 June, 1988, 15.

20 Padraic P. McGuinness, "Poor Literature Board," Australian Financial Review, 23 February, 1989, 91.

21 David Parker, "The Smile on Wolfi's Face: Mark Henshaw's Novel and the New Cultural Cringe," The Age Monthly Review, February-March 1989, 3-5. See also David Parker, "When Are We? Some Thoughts on a Postmodern Novel in Australia," Critical Review 29 (1989): 67-76.

22 Parker, Critical Review, 74.

23 Philip Thomson, "Sidelines," The Age Monthly Review (June 1989): 10-11.

24 Thompson, 11.

25 See for example Kate Ahearne, "Do the 'Ayes' Have It?" Australian Society (October, 1988): 49.

26 See Ken Gelder, "Postmodernism's 'Lost Objects': Desire in the Recent Fiction of Murnane, Brooks, Henshaw and Jones," Island Magazine 41 (Summer, 1989): 49-53, John O'Carroll, "Deconstructing the Mandala: Mark Henshaw's Out of the Line of Fire," Meanjin 48.2 (Winter 1989): 407-418 and Wenche Ommundsen, "The Reader in Contemporary Metafiction: Freedom or Constraint?" AUMLA 74 (November 1990): 169-184.

27 Alice Jardine, Gynesis: Configurations of Woman and Modernity (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1985).

28 See Gelder; also Greg Manning, "Into the Frying Pan: Out of the Line of Fire," Scripsi 5.3 (April 1989): 213-221.


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