Graham’s total recall
Double life amid maze of memory
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.