His story, a novel memoir (novel) ;and Fish out of water (thesis)

Nigel Gray

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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His Story takes the form of a fictive but autobiographically based investigation into the child and young adult I used to be, and follows that protagonist into early adulthood. It tries to show the damage done to that character and the way in which he damaged others in turn. As Hemingway said, We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to hurt like hell before you can write seriously. More importantly, the main protagonist is somebody who became concerned with, and cognizant of the main political and social events of his day. His life is set in its social context, and reaches out to the larger issues. That is to say, the personal events of the protagonist's life are recorded alongside and set in the context of the major events taking place on the world stage. The manuscript is some sort of hybrid of novel, autobiography, and historical and social document. As Isaac Bashevis Singer said, The serious writer of our time must be deeply concerned about the problems of his generation. In order to make His Story effective in sharing my ideas and beliefs, and, of course, in order to protect the innocent and more particularly, the guilty, it is created in the colourful area that is the overlap between memory and fiction. When we tell the stories of our lives to others, and indeed, to ourselves, we prise them out of memory's fingers and transform them into fiction. To write autobiography well, as E.L. Doctorow said, you have to invent everything, even memory. "Fish Out of Water" uses carefully mined extracts from extensive interviews conducted with ten writers: Brian Aldiss, Paul Bailey, John Berger, Malcolm Bradbury, Dick Davis, John Fowles, Barry Hines, Donall MacAmhlaigh, Roger McGough and Peter Vansittart. I decided to look at the memories these ten disparate writers shared with me of their childhood and young adulthood to see whether or not there were any common threads that led to them becoming serious and successful writers, and to see how this compared or contrasted with my own experience. These extracts reflect the process of self-discovery and re-discovery triggered by the writing of the main component of my PhD, my autobiographical novel.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2008


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