Gra­ham’s to­tal re­call

Dou­ble life amid maze of mem­ory

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS -

CARO­LINE Gra­ham leads an in­ter­est­ing life.

By day she lec­tures in jour­nal­ism and cre­ative writ­ing at Bond Uni­ver­sity, by night she grap­ples with mem­ory and the over­whelm­ing rush of in­for­ma­tion that con­founds ev­ery­one in this mul­ti­me­dia world as she writes her novel The Mem­ory Ad­dicts.

And this week­end she will head a panel that dis­sects the pri­vate lives and thoughts of a group of au­thors at the Bris­bane Writ­ers Fes­ti­val.

Among them will be Ker­rie Davies whose book, The Wife’s Heart, caused con­tro­versy this year when it was pub­lished, chal­leng­ing the like­able lar­rikin im­age of poet Henry Law­son by telling the story of his wife Bertha, whom Davies presents as a woman who suf­fered years of abuse.

Gra­ham’s ses­sion, ti­tled It’s A Writer’s Life For Me, is pre­sented by Bond Uni­ver­sity in Au­di­to­rium 2 at the State Li­brary at 2.30pm to­mor­row.

Other writ­ers to be put un­der the mi­cro­scope by her in­clude up-and-com­ing US author Cather­ine Lacey, and his­to­rian, colum­nist and speech­writer Den­nis Glover.

“It’s al­most like a blind lit­er­ary date,’’ Gra­ham said. “We’re all peo­ple who come to­gether not know­ing each other.

“This is re­ally that idea of pulling back the cur­tain on what writ­ing is. It can be very eas­ily glam­or­ised, but there’s also a dif­fi­cult side to it and a dark side.’’

Gra­ham mean­while, who has co-writ­ten a jour­nal­ist text­book – Writ­ing Fea­ture Sto­ries – and has a swag of short fic­tion sto­ries to her name, has com­pleted the first draft of her novel that is dou­bling as an aca­demic pro­ject too. She is work­ing on her PhD. The novel is part of that, but she also has to write an ac­com­pa­ny­ing the­sis.

The Mem­ory Ad­dicts tells the story of a young man who has a con­di­tion called hy­per­thymesia – an abil­ity to re­call past events in mi­cro-de­tail.

“They can re­mem­ber in enor­mous de­tail ev­ery­thing that’s ever hap­pened. If you give them a day they can tell you what was on the news, what they were wear­ing, where they were. It’s sort of al­most a cat­a­logue of ob­ses­sion with your own mem­ory,’’ she said.

“He starts re­mem­ber­ing things that aren’t his own mem­o­ries. It’s him try­ing to un­pack the mys­tery of that.’’

The cen­tral char­ac­ter lives in a world where peo­ple are ad­dicted to mem­ory and take dopamine sup­ple­ments, used now to treat Parkin­son’s dis­ease, to feed that.

“It’s all about mem­ory. Part of it came from my back­ground as a jour­nal­ist,’’ Gra­ham said. “Ev­ery­one I know feels over­whelmed by in­for­ma­tion, ev­ery­one I know is try­ing to find ways of step­ping back from so­cial me­dia or that con­stant, re­lent­less turnover of all kinds of in­for­ma­tion. It’s this col­lec­tive feel­ing of too much (in­for­ma­tion) that I wanted to ex­plore.’’

Caro­line Gra­ham will be tak­ing a look at the life of a writer.

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