In Front of Myself

LTCLost In Track Changes is an ongoing literary remix experiment featuring Cate Kennedy, Fiona Capp, Krissy Kneen, Ryan O’Neill and Robert Hoge. Starting from a short work of memoir, the authors remix each other’s work in series, with changes tracked between.

The story continues with this remix by Fiona Capp via Robert Hoge via Krissy Kneen. Use the tabs to flick between the most recent versions of the story and backtrack to version one (by Cate Kennedy) via this link.

We were seated on a plastic bench outside Kmart in a shopping mall. Five days until Christmas.

A tired harassed mother near me was losing the plot with her young son. The boy was about three, rattled, exhausted, as everyone else trudging around.

Christmas muzak swamped the air. The Kmart staff sported synthetic Santa hats, stony-faced, manhandling boxes across registers.

‘Listen to me,’ she yelled, her face close to his. ‘That’s it. We’re going home now, do you understand me?’

She shifted her humongous plastic bags of Christmas shopping, gave him a good shake. The boy tried to direct his gaze somewhere else, out of the line of fire of her furious glare. Maybe she anticipated more resistance from him. Maybe she thought the idea of returning home, far away from this wonderland of noise and toys, would make him cry and plead. She tightened her grip on his arm and shook him.

‘Santa’s not coming,’ she hissed. ‘Santa hates you.’

The little boy went still. He withered down.

‘Mary’s Boy Child’ played inanely. He absorbed this, deafened, stunned, eyes wide, the world wrenched open.

I caught my partner’s eye. The idea of standing up and intervening hung between us. I felt like a swimmer in a rip. This boy and his mother were bit-players in a drama about a faltering marriage—the two of them no more than extras. Our private drama was so all-consuming that everyone else got driven out of the picture or relegated to a walk-on part. Or that’s how it felt at the time. As it turned out, the boy and his mother were much more than that.

I stood and walked to over the mother and her son. I barely glanced at the mother, only enough to register that she was so stunned by my sudden appearance that she was waiting to see what came next. I crouched down in front of her white-faced, trembling son.

‘It’s not you,’ I said to him. ‘Remember what I’m telling you kid. It’s not you.’

I thought I was making a difference in the boy’s life, helping him see it wasn’t his fault. But even then I think I knew that I wasn’t really doing it for him. I was doing it for me. In that boy I saw my young self, cowed and battered by my mother’s unpredictable moods and hair-trigger temper.

As I stood up again, the mother stepped towards me. I had never seen someone go purple with rage before. I had read about it in books but never seen it. She put her face right up to mine.

‘What the fuck do you think you’re doing? This is none of your bloody fuckin’ business, you interfering goody-goody.’

By this time, my wife had come up behind me. I saw the mother’s eyes swoop on her, as if she was going to give my wife a piece of her mind, too.

Helena touched me on the shoulder. ‘There’s nothing more you can do, Jay.’

I nodded to the boy, whose eyes were almost popping out of his head as they flicked from me to his mother to my wife and back again.

I like to think that when his eyes met mine the second time around, he gave a small nod. That he had absorbed and understood what I said, or that he would at a later date. As we walked away, I said as much to Helena. She said she hoped so, too, although she suspected the boy was too young. Who remembered anything much from when they were three?

I didn’t realise how worked up I was until I caught myself almost losing it with Helena, right there, out the front of Kmart, with Christmas shoppers all around us. I couldn’t look at her. Why did she have to say such incredibly stupid things? It didn’t matter if the boy didn’t remember. What mattered was that he didn’t blame himself. She was implying that what I done hadn’t been worth it. How fucking dare she? At least I didn’t sit back, like she did, and leave the boy to his fate.

It was all boiling around inside me, about to come gushing out like black sludge from deep underground, when I somehow stopped myself. She wasn’t denying it, she was just being realistic. The more important question was why I had over-reacted again. Why I was always hitting the roof over seeming little things? No prizes for guessing where that came from. The problem was that nothing ever felt small to me. Everything felt big, the way it does when you’re a kid. Every time I lost it with my wife I was four again, or five or six, bewildered by the way my mother was behaving and unable to make anything change.

But on this particular day, I realised things could change. I could change. And in that moment I felt more in command of myself than I had for as long as I can remember.

That mother and boy weren’t bit players, they weren’t extras. They were my childhood come back to haunt me. And for once, I didn’t fume and feel helpless and then take it out on my wife. I would never know whether or not my intervention made any difference in that boy’s life. But I knew, without a moment’s doubt, that it made all the difference in mine.

 

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I was seated on a plastic bench outside Kmart in a shopping mall. Five days until Christmas.

A tired harassed mother near me was losing the plot with her young son.

The boy was about four, rattled, exhausted, as everyone else trudging around.

Christmas muzak swamped the air. The Kmart staff sported synthetic Santa hats, stony-faced, manhandling boxes across registers.

‘Listen to me,’ she yelled, her face close to his. ‘That’s it. We’re going home now, do you understand me?’

She shifted her humongous plastic bags of Christmas shopping, gave him a good shake. The boy tried to direct his gaze somewhere else, out of the line of fire of her furious glare. Maybe she anticipated more resistance from him. Maybe she thought the idea of returning home, far away from this wonderland of noise and toys, would make him cry and plead. She tightened her grip on his arm and shook him.

‘Santa’s not coming,’ she hissed. ‘Santa hates you.’

The little boy went still. He withered down.

‘Mary’s Boy Child’ played inanely. He absorbed this, deafened, stunned, eyes wide, the world wrenched open.

I caught my partner’s eye. The idea of standing up and intervening hung between us. It drowned me in place like an undertow. This boy and his mother were bit-players in a drama about a faltering marriage – the two of them no more than extras.

I stood. I walked to the mother and her son. In this other story the mother—somehow, implausibly, allowed me to crouch down in front of her son, ignoring her, and bond to him.

‘It’s not you,’ I said to the white-faced, trembling boy. ‘Remember what I’m telling you kid. It’s not you.’

The moment hung there, the chance to write the narrative. I assessed the energy and grief and courage it would take, to thresh and flounder against that debilitating undertow and stand up and do it.

I looked over at my husband who would no longer be my husband a few months from now. I noticed his grief, nothing to do with this boy or his mother at all.

The boy would be eighteen by now and I think of him all the time. I can tinker with the sad script all I like but this is the story I’m left with. Had I risen then, I would have been the catalyst. I would have been someone else’s chief turning point.

Had I risen, I wonder if I would have had to write this now.

 

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Lost in Remixology

ifbook podcastOur favourite topic du jour gets another guernsey in this month’s if:book Podcast where Simon and Emily discuss if:book’s take on the remix in literature and some of the wider discussion around remix culture.

Guest artist is dotCommunism with a classic track from 2006—you know it well—’Untitled 4‘ from the smash remix EP Wizard Hat. Rock on, dude.

Stuff we talk about:

 

Play

Podcast Feed // iTunes

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In Front of Myself

LTCLost In Track Changes is an ongoing literary remix experiment featuring Cate Kennedy, Fiona Capp, Krissy Kneen, Ryan O’Neill and Robert Hoge. Starting from a short work of memoir, the authors remix each other’s work in series, with changes tracked between.

The story continues with this remix by Robert Hoge via Krissy Kneen. Use the tabs to flick between versions of the story. and backtrack to version one (by Cate Kennedy) via this link.

I was seated on a plastic bench outside Kmart in a shopping mall. Five days until Christmas.

A tired harassed mother near me was losing the plot with her young son.

The boy was about four, rattled, exhausted, as everyone else trudging around.

Christmas muzak swamped the air. The Kmart staff sported synthetic Santa hats, stony-faced, manhandling boxes across registers.

‘Listen to me,’ she yelled, her face close to his. ‘That’s it. We’re going home now, do you understand me?’

She shifted her humongous plastic bags of Christmas shopping, gave him a good shake. The boy tried to direct his gaze somewhere else, out of the line of fire of her furious glare. Maybe she anticipated more resistance from him. Maybe she thought the idea of returning home, far away from this wonderland of noise and toys, would make him cry and plead. She tightened her grip on his arm and shook him.

‘Santa’s not coming,’ she hissed. ‘Santa hates you.’

The little boy went still. He withered down.

‘Mary’s Boy Child’ played inanely. He absorbed this, deafened, stunned, eyes wide, the world wrenched open.

I caught my partner’s eye. The idea of standing up and intervening hung between us. It drowned me in place like an undertow. This boy and his mother were bit-players in a drama about a faltering marriage – the two of them no more than extras.

I stood. I walked to the mother and her son. In this other story the mother—somehow, implausibly, allowed me to crouch down in front of her son, ignoring her, and bond to him.

‘It’s not you,’ I said to the white-faced, trembling boy. ‘Remember what I’m telling you kid. It’s not you.’

The moment hung there, the chance to write the narrative. I assessed the energy and grief and courage it would take, to thresh and flounder against that debilitating undertow and stand up and do it.

I looked over at my husband who would no longer be my husband a few months from now. I noticed his grief, nothing to do with this boy or his mother at all.

The boy would be eighteen by now and I think of him all the time. I can tinker with the sad script all I like but this is the story I’m left with. Had I risen then, I would have been the catalyst. I would have been someone else’s chief turning point.

Had I risen, I wonder if I would have had to write this now.

 

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I was sitting on a plastic bench outside Kmart in a shopping mall. Five days before Christmas.

A young harassed mother near me was losing the plot with her young son.

The kid was about four, rattled, exhausted, as everyone else trudging around.

Christmas carol muzak swamped the air. The Kmart staff sported synthetic Santa hats, stony-faced, manhandling boxes across the registers.

‘Listen to me!’ she yelled, her face close to his. ‘That’s it! We’re going home now, do you hear me?’

She shifted her massive plastic bags of Christmas shopping, gave him a good shake. The boy tried to direct his eyes somewhere else, out of the line of fire of her furious glare. Maybe she expected more resistance from him. Maybe she thought the idea of going home, far away from this wonderland of noise and toys, would make him cry and plead. She tightened her grip on his arm and shook him again.

‘Santa’s not coming,’ she shouted. ‘Santa hates you.’

The little boy went very still. He closed down.

‘Mary’s Boy Child’ looped inanely. He absorbed this, deafened, stunned, eyes wide, the world blown open.

I caught my husband’s eye. The notion of standing up and intervening hung between us. It held me in place like an undertow. This boy and his mother were bit-players in a drama about a faltering marriage – the two of them nothing more than extras.

*

I stood up. I walked over to the mother and her son. In this other story the mother – somehow, implausibly, allowed me to crouch down in front of her son, ignoring her, and speak to him.

‘It’s not you,’ I said to the white-faced, trembling little boy. ‘Remember what I’m telling you. It’s not about you.’

*

The moment hung there, the chance to change the narrative. I assessed the energy and grief and courage it would require, to thresh and flounder against that debilitating undertow and stand up and do it.

I looked over at my husband who would no longer be my husband only a few months from now.  I noticed his immobilising grief, nothing to do with this boy or his mother at all.

*

The boy would be eighteen now and I think of him all the time. I can tinker with the script all I like but this is the story I’m left with. Had I risen, I would have been the catalyst. I would have been someone else’s turning point.

Had I risen, I wonder if I would even have had to write this now.

 

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Family Tree

MMUOn 30 May 2014, Levin Diatschenko created a new work of narrative fiction for Memory Makes Us using your memories as his inspiration. Levin sought from the public memories on the theme of ‘family tree’.

At the conclusion of the extraordinary work produced, he decided he’d like to expand the story a little further. Maybe a lot further.

So Levin is expanding the story into a novel and he would love to continue receiving your ‘family tree’ memories.

We have set up a dedicated page over at the Memory Makes Us web site for Levin’s project. Memories submitted to the new page will be delivered directly to the author for his consideration and inspiration. Selected memories may also feature in our complete project repository.

Like the main event, Levin is also writing the new extended work in a form visible to everyone. You can follow his progress here.

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Memory Makes Us: Melbourne

MMUWe’re ready to host your memories again. Memory Makes Us is taking place in four Australian cities throughout 2014 and today we’re proud to announce the authors and topics for Melbourne.

The authors begin writing on Sunday 31 August at Federation Square. If you can’t make it to the event, you can share your memory with us at any time from now at the project web site.

 

The Body by Paddy O’Reilly

Memories of bodies may be personal and intimate: memories of your own and of others, but memories are not restricted to the corporeal. Bodies of work, of evidence, even of water might yet trigger a memory in you.

Paddy O’Reilly writes novels, short stories and screenplay. She has won a number of short story awards and her stories have been published and broadcast around the world. Her books have been shortlisted for major awards as well as nominated as best books of the year in various publications. Paddy’s latest novel is The Wonders.

Desire by Angela Meyer

It’s something you always wanted, but what are the consequences of acquiring the object of your desire? What are the consequences of never acquiring it?

Angela Meyer is an author (Captives), editor (The Great Unknown), reviewer and literary journalist. She has a Doctor of Creative Arts from the University of Western Sydney, and has blogged for more than seven years at Literary Minded. Her fiction, articles, essays and reviews have been widely published.

Lies by Nicholas J Johnson

Everybody lies, sooner or later. What lies have you told or been told? Who can you believe?

After decades of rubbing shoulders with fraudsters and liars, Nicholas Johnson now works as a performer, writer and consultant, educating the public about the tricks of the con artist’s trade. His live shows have featured at corporate events, schools and private events simultaneously entertaining and educating audiences about con artists and scams.

His debut novel, Chasing The Ace, is now available.

SHARE YOUR MEMORIES HERE

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In Front of Kmart 2.0

LTCLost In Track Changes is an ongoing literary remix experiment featuring Cate Kennedy, Fiona Capp, Krissy Kneen, Ryan O’Neill and Robert Hoge. Starting from a short work of memoir, the authors remix each other’s work in series, with changes tracked between.

The first remix of Cate Kennedy’s In Front of Kmart comes comes via Krissy Kneen. Use the tabs to flick between versions of the story.

I was sitting on a plastic bench outside Kmart in a shopping mall. Five days before Christmas.

A young harassed mother near me was losing the plot with her young son.

The kid was about four, rattled, exhausted, as everyone else trudging around.

Christmas carol muzak swamped the air. The Kmart staff sported synthetic Santa hats, stony-faced, manhandling boxes across the registers.

‘Listen to me!’ she yelled, her face close to his. ‘That’s it! We’re going home now, do you hear me?’

She shifted her massive plastic bags of Christmas shopping, gave him a good shake. The boy tried to direct his eyes somewhere else, out of the line of fire of her furious glare. Maybe she expected more resistance from him. Maybe she thought the idea of going home, far away from this wonderland of noise and toys, would make him cry and plead. She tightened her grip on his arm and shook him again.

‘Santa’s not coming,’ she shouted. ‘Santa hates you.’

The little boy went very still. He closed down.

‘Mary’s Boy Child’ looped inanely. He absorbed this, deafened, stunned, eyes wide, the world blown open.

I caught my husband’s eye. The notion of standing up and intervening hung between us. It held me in place like an undertow. This boy and his mother were bit-players in a drama about a faltering marriage – the two of them nothing more than extras.

 *

I stood up. I walked over to the mother and her son. In this other story the mother – somehow, implausibly, allowed me to crouch down in front of her son, ignoring her, and speak to him.

‘It’s not you,’ I said to the white-faced, trembling little boy. ‘Remember what I’m telling you. It’s not about you.’

 *

The moment hung there, the chance to change the narrative. I assessed the energy and grief and courage it would require, to thresh and flounder against that debilitating undertow and stand up and do it.

I looked over at my husband who would no longer be my husband only a few months from now.  I noticed his immobilising grief, nothing to do with this boy or his mother at all.

 *

The boy would be eighteen now and I think of him all the time. I can tinker with the script all I like but this is the story I’m left with. Had I risen, I would have been the catalyst. I would have been someone else’s turning point.

Had I risen, I wonder if I would even have had to write this now.

 

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Five days before Christmas, I was sitting on a plastic bench outside Kmart in a shopping mall, gathering strength for the onslaught of buying gifts nobody wanted or needed from department stores I usually did anything to avoid entering.

A young harassed mother near me was losing the plot with her young son.

The kid was about four and was clearly feeling as rattled, exhausted and overwhelmed as everyone else trudging around – or at least, as I was.

Christmas carol muzak swamped the air. The young Kmart staff, while remaining stony-faced, sported synthetic Santa hats as they manhandled boxes of crap across the registers.

It had been a lean year financially, one I had spent away from Australia living in a far poorer country, which I was missing so deeply I felt almost immobilised with the sense that I’d made a terrible mistake in returning. The last place in the world I wanted to be at that moment was outside a megastore glittering with tinsel and merchandise, watching a young woman grab her little boy by the arm and start shouting at him.

‘Listen to me!’ she yelled, her face close to his. ‘That’s it! We’re going home now, do you hear me?’

She shifted her massive plastic bags of Christmas shopping out of her way with her leg so she could give him a good shake. The boy tried to direct his eyes somewhere else, out of the line of fire of her furious glare. Maybe she expected more resistance from him. Maybe she thought the idea of going home, far away from this wonderland of noise and toys, would make him crack and start crying and pleading. When it didn’t, her fury increased. She tightened her grip on his arm and shook him again.

‘Santa’s not coming,’ she shouted. ‘Santa hates you.’

The little boy went very still. He closed down.

Nothing stopped for him, not his mother’s hysterical frustration, not the grim strangers striding all around him, not ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ inanely looping on the mall tannoy. It all just went on around him as he absorbed this blow, like a child on a street in the wake of a detonation; deafened, stunned, eyes wide, the world blown open.

 *

I stood up and walked over to them. I put my hand on the mother’s shoulder. ‘You need a break,’ I said. ‘You don’t mean that. I know you don’t. Here – let me take your little boy for a while and you have a break in that café there. Just sit in there and rest and I’ll take him for a walk outside and find a tree somewhere and sit under it. Then later you can say sorry and go home and wrap up these presents together and put them under the tree. How does that sound?’

*

No, I didn’t. Of course I didn’t. I caught my husband’s eye and knew he shared my unhappiness at being back in Australia, caught here in the very vortex of commercialism we both despised, witnessing something so miserable that it flooded us both with fresh misery.

I haven’t mentioned my husband sitting there until now, but let me paint him into the scene now. I need this for context, for narrative, to make you understand why I didn’t rise to my feet, propelled by righteous anger and a larger, calmer compassion, and approach that seething young woman at the very end of her tether. I looked over at him and for a second the notion of standing up and intervening hung between us, then I felt a wave of pure despair. It held me in place like an undertow.

 *

Believe me, I feel with you the narrative lockstep which now requires me to expand on this despair, to illustrate how this vignette is now progressing accordingly to mention that our marriage was teetering at that point, limping along on the baldest of tyres, almost out of gas. That we had no energy in ourselves to alleviate each other’s misery, that we had lost the power and the will to do so. To turn this story to our endless true subject: myself. To make this boy and his mother bit-players in a drama about a faltering marriage, to show how this moment was the all-important tipping point, then moving on to the Me Show – the two of them nothing more than extras. Catalysts. It’s typical of life, I am sure you will agree, to provide us with our turning-point catalysts outside Kmart, to allow us to use others in this way.

 *

Wait. I don’t want to go there. I stood up. I walked over to the mother and her son. The mother – somehow, implausibly, I’ll work on this part later – allowed me to crouch down in front of her son, ignoring her, and speak to him.

‘It’s not you,’ I said to the white-faced, trembling little boy. ‘You’re fantastic. Do you hear me? You’re a great kid. Don’t worry – your mum’s under a lot of stress and adults say lots of crazy things they wish they hadn’t said later. OK? Remember what I’m telling you. It’s not you.’

 *

No, I didn’t. You know I didn’t. The moment hung there, the chance to change the narrative. I assessed the energy and grief and courage it would require, to thresh and flounder against that debilitating undertow and stand up and do it.

I looked over at my husband, lost in his own immobilising grief.

I’ll tell you, although I don’t need to now, that the relationship crashed and burned a few short months later. It’s enough that you know that I’m left with this – myself sitting, doing nothing, and that boy would be eighteen now and I think of him all the time. I can tinker with the script all I like but this is the story I’m left with. Had I risen, I would have been the catalyst. I would have been someone else’s turning point.

Had I risen, I wonder if I would even have had to write this now.

 

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In Front of Kmart

LTCLost In Track Changes is an ongoing literary remix experiment featuring Cate Kennedy, Fiona Capp, Krissy Kneen, Ryan O’Neill and Robert Hoge. Starting from a short work of memoir, the authors remix each other’s work in series, with changes tracked between.

This series commences with an original work by Cate Kennedy. Check in again next week to read the first remix of Cate’s story.

Five days before Christmas, I was sitting on a plastic bench outside Kmart in a shopping mall, gathering strength for the onslaught of buying gifts nobody wanted or needed from department stores I usually did anything to avoid entering.

A young harassed mother near me was losing the plot with her young son.

The kid was about four and was clearly feeling as rattled, exhausted and overwhelmed as everyone else trudging around – or at least, as I was.

Christmas carol muzak swamped the air. The young Kmart staff, while remaining stony-faced, sported synthetic Santa hats as they manhandled boxes of crap across the registers.

It had been a lean year financially, one I had spent away from Australia living in a far poorer country, which I was missing so deeply I felt almost immobilised with the sense that I’d made a terrible mistake in returning. The last place in the world I wanted to be at that moment was outside a megastore glittering with tinsel and merchandise, watching a young woman grab her little boy by the arm and start shouting at him.

‘Listen to me!’ she yelled, her face close to his. ‘That’s it! We’re going home now, do you hear me?’

She shifted her massive plastic bags of Christmas shopping out of her way with her leg so she could give him a good shake. The boy tried to direct his eyes somewhere else, out of the line of fire of her furious glare. Maybe she expected more resistance from him. Maybe she thought the idea of going home, far away from this wonderland of noise and toys, would make him crack and start crying and pleading. When it didn’t, her fury increased. She tightened her grip on his arm and shook him again.

‘Santa’s not coming,’ she shouted. ‘Santa hates you.’

The little boy went very still. He closed down.

Nothing stopped for him, not his mother’s hysterical frustration, not the grim strangers striding all around him, not ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ inanely looping on the mall tannoy. It all just went on around him as he absorbed this blow, like a child on a street in the wake of a detonation; deafened, stunned, eyes wide, the world blown open.

 *

I stood up and walked over to them. I put my hand on the mother’s shoulder. ‘You need a break,’ I said. ‘You don’t mean that. I know you don’t. Here – let me take your little boy for a while and you have a break in that café there. Just sit in there and rest and I’ll take him for a walk outside and find a tree somewhere and sit under it. Then later you can say sorry and go home and wrap up these presents together and put them under the tree. How does that sound?’

*

No, I didn’t. Of course I didn’t. I caught my husband’s eye and knew he shared my unhappiness at being back in Australia, caught here in the very vortex of commercialism we both despised, witnessing something so miserable that it flooded us both with fresh misery.

I haven’t mentioned my husband sitting there until now, but let me paint him into the scene now. I need this for context, for narrative, to make you understand why I didn’t rise to my feet, propelled by righteous anger and a larger, calmer compassion, and approach that seething young woman at the very end of her tether. I looked over at him and for a second the notion of standing up and intervening hung between us, then I felt a wave of pure despair. It held me in place like an undertow.

 *

Believe me, I feel with you the narrative lockstep which now requires me to expand on this despair, to illustrate how this vignette is now progressing accordingly to mention that our marriage was teetering at that point, limping along on the baldest of tyres, almost out of gas. That we had no energy in ourselves to alleviate each other’s misery, that we had lost the power and the will to do so. To turn this story to our endless true subject: myself. To make this boy and his mother bit-players in a drama about a faltering marriage, to show how this moment was the all-important tipping point, then moving on to the Me Show – the two of them nothing more than extras. Catalysts. It’s typical of life, I am sure you will agree, to provide us with our turning-point catalysts outside Kmart, to allow us to use others in this way.

 *

Wait. I don’t want to go there. I stood up. I walked over to the mother and her son. The mother – somehow, implausibly, I’ll work on this part later – allowed me to crouch down in front of her son, ignoring her, and speak to him.

‘It’s not you,’ I said to the white-faced, trembling little boy. ‘You’re fantastic. Do you hear me? You’re a great kid. Don’t worry – your mum’s under a lot of stress and adults say lots of crazy things they wish they hadn’t said later. OK? Remember what I’m telling you. It’s not you.’

 *

No, I didn’t. You know I didn’t. The moment hung there, the chance to change the narrative. I assessed the energy and grief and courage it would require, to thresh and flounder against that debilitating undertow and stand up and do it.

I looked over at my husband, lost in his own immobilising grief.

I’ll tell you, although I don’t need to now, that the relationship crashed and burned a few short months later. It’s enough that you know that I’m left with this – myself sitting, doing nothing, and that boy would be eighteen now and I think of him all the time. I can tinker with the script all I like but this is the story I’m left with. Had I risen, I would have been the catalyst. I would have been someone else’s turning point.

Had I risen, I wonder if I would even have had to write this now.

 

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Introducing Lost In Track Changes

LTCif:book’s latest literary project kicks off next week right here on this very site. This project takes the personal and intimate craft of memoir and turns it over to the cut-and-paste transformation of remix culture combined with a hint of old-fashioned parlour games.

Five writers have written a short piece of memoir, a vignette. Each work is passed onto another author within the group, tasked with transforming the piece into something else. In the background, if:book tracks the changes. The newly minted remix is passed along again and so on until each of the pieces have passed through all five authors.

It’s called Lost In Track Changes.

Introducing the five authors who have stepped up to the challenge:

Krissy Kneen is the author of the memoir Affection, the erotic fiction Triptych and the novel Steeplechase. Her erotic novel Holly’s Incredible Adventures in the Sex Machine will be out in November (Text).
Fiona Capp is the internationally published author of seven books: three works of non-fiction including That Oceanic Feeling, which won the 2004 Kibble Award and My Blood’s Country, a journey through the landscape that inspired the poetry of Judith Wright, and four novels – Night Surfing, Last of the Sane Days, Musk & Byrne and Gotland.
Robert Hoge has worked as a journalist, a speechwriter, a science communicator for the CSIRO and a political advisor to the former Queensland Premier and Deputy Premier. He has had numerous short stories, articles, interviews and other works published in Australia and overseas. His memoir, Ugly, is about growing up ugly and disabled. It’s also about bad haircuts and reading and awful teen love poems and underarm bowling as a metaphor for… well, you’ll just have to read the book.
Cate Kennedy writes short stories, poetry, non-fiction and is currently working on her second novel. Her work has been published internationally and she is the recipient of the 2010 NSW Premier’s Literary Prize People’s Choice award for her novel The World Beneath, the 2012 Queensland Literary Award for her short story collection Like a House on Fire and the 2011 Victorian Premier’s Award for her poetry collection The Taste of River Water. Her non-fiction work includes Sing and Don’t Cry; a Mexican journal about her time living and working in a credit cooperative in Mexico. She edited the 2010 and 2011 Best Australian Stories anthologies and more recently New Australian Love Stories (due for publication Sept 2014).
Ryan O’Neill’s fiction has appeared in The Best Australian Stories, The Sleepers Almanac, Meanjin, New Australian Stories, Wet Ink, Etchings and Westerly. His work has won the Hal Porter and Roland Robinson awards. His book, The Weight of a Human Heart has been shortlisted for the 2012 Queensland Literary Prize – Steele Rudd Award. He teaches at the University of Newcastle.

Each piece and its remixes will be published in weekly instalments at if:book over the next five months. We are also working on print and ebook editions of the complete project and an event at the project’s conclusion in November.

The ebook edition will feature design work from Megan Hoogenboom.

Megan Hoogenboom is an independent graphic designer, living in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Using a self-invented design system and a fuelled by fascination with the transformation from the analogue to the digital, Megan creates and philosophises on the form of the digital book: the .ePub.
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Quality Gasbagging

ifbook podcastJune’s if:book Podcast features Donna Hancox, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Queensland University of Technology. Emily and Simon discuss with Donna community storytelling and interactive narratives told across media.

Links to the projects discussed:

Cool Stuff We Found On The Internet:

Featured artist this week is Enrico Caruso. You might know him as tenor-singing superstar the Great Caruso (as distinguished from other Greats such as Alexander or Catherine). Caruso sings La Donna e Mobile from Verdi’s Rigoletto. You may recognise the music from advertising that attempts to associate its product with Italy in some form.

Originally recorded for the Victor label in 1904, this song comes to us from the Internet Archive.

 

 

Play

Podcast Feed // iTunes

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Becoming N00b

the noobzThe collected essays from if:book’s project The N00bz is now available and ready as a single downloadable volume for your reading pleasure. But why stop at reading?

Would you like to be one of The N00bz?

To coincide with its publication, if:book and publisher Editia are offering emerging writers the chance to be published alongside Romy Ash, Carmel Bird, James Bradley, Sean Williams, and Benjamin Law.

Submit a tweet or blog post about your own literary experiment and let us know about it via Twitter using the hashtag #TheN00bz (don’t forget the zeroes).

If you submit by midnight on 7 July, your work may be selected for inclusion in the print edition (and second digital edition) of The N00bz to be launched in August.

Editia has more information and some handy suggestions for experiments you can try at home. 

You can also read our official announcement of the competition over at Books + Publishing.  

About the book

Change your tools for storytelling, change your routine, learn a new form, engage with parts of the wider industry you have never had to previously. See what happens and report back. This was the challenge taken up by contributors to The N00bz: New adventures in literature, a joint project between if:book Australia and digital first publisher Editia.

The book is a collection of writing about writing that documents pure curiosity and the quest to continually improve amidst rapid and constant industrial change. The results are by turns insightful and amusing if, just occasionally, a bit harrowing.

Sean Williams deprived himself of sleep and observed its effect on his creativity. Sophie Masson established her own independent press. Emily Stewart gave away her library. Greg Field closed his bookshop and joined Wattpad. Romy Ash tackled Twitter storytelling. James Bradley tried his hand at creating a graphic novel. Carmel Bird digitized a title from her backlist. Benjamin Law braved the squiggly world of shorthand. And Jeff Sparrow wrote something that’s definitely not a book.

Setting up your own press, leaving your previous career behind, and giving away your books are not experiences that can be undone as easily as Command-z. But the intention of The N00bz was to encourage writers to step outside their typical routines and find new perspectives … perspectives that stay with you long after you finish reading these essays, even if you don’t end up encoding your own ebooks.

So get your n00b on and in the meantime pick up a virtual copy of The N00bz from the following digital emporiums:

 

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This is the future of the book, but not the one you were expecting.