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Issue Details: First known date: 2016... 2016 Zissou and Queenie and the Coincidence
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' When I write, I mostly write fiction. One of the key things a writer of fiction must do is engage the reader in the whole trick of the world of the fiction by taking care to construct a fabric that holds together of itself for the duration of the story. When a reader is able to look at the story and point to a bit that is accidentally out of kilter with the rest of the thing, they say, 'But given all this other stuff, that bit couldn't happen.' So the fiction probably hasn't succeeded. One of the devices that often causes the reader to feel cheated is the coincidence. If you are telling an account of what truly happened in your life, you sometimes do have to point to a coincidence. They do happen in real life, and people marvel at them and are delighted and puzzled and even frightened by them. But in the ordinary course of creating fiction, it is generally difficult for the writer to rely on coincidence for the development of the story. Writers often stay away from coincidence, or else put it boldly front and centre, or conceal it so that the reader doesn't really notice. In 'The Great Gatsby', for instance, the fact that Nick Carraway happens to rent a house opposite the home of his cousin Daisy, and next door to Daisy's old beau Gatsby, is almost never discussed. It's a coincidence that is glossed over in the text, but it is vital to the action, without it there would be no story. Dickens cheerfully employed coincidence in his plots, but even there, so much is going on, so much drama, so much comedy, that readers can miss the device.' (Publication abstract)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Meanjin Telling Someone Else's Story vol. 75 no. 4 Summer 2016 10855789 2016 periodical issue

    'Stories can have a determining power, the authority of the assumed and accepted narrative.

    'We all have our own of course, and perhaps the capacity to imagine the stories of hypothetical others. In everyday life that might pass for empathy; in literature it can carry an edge of privilege and controversy. And in fact? In non-fiction?

    'In this edition, a timely exploration framed by that great Australian woman of letters Alexis Wright, a long musing on the often vexed intersections between our first peoples and the narrative that explains and explores the Indigenous position in modern Australia. Whose stories are these to tell? Who owns this continuing tale?' (Editorial introduction)

    pg. 194-197
Last amended 16 Mar 2017 13:28:42
194-197 Zissou and Queenie and the Coincidencesmall AustLit logo Meanjin
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