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    When I get home: a collection of short stories and accompanying critical commentary

    Lambert, Zoe (2010) When I get home: a collection of short stories and accompanying critical commentary. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    The collection of stories When I Get Home explores the loss of home and the effects of war and persecution on migrants and refugees, as well as children's capacity for cruelty and one's own potential for violence. The short stories blend elements of the modem lyric story, horror, metafiction, travel narrative and more fragmented postmodern forms. In the critical commentary I situate the collection within contemporary short fiction and short story theory, drawing on the theory of the modem lyrical story by Eileen Baldeshwiler as well as theories of postmodern short fiction. While critical theory tends to prefer the experimental story over the traditional, I argue that the postmodern form is not necessarily more progressive than traditional forms. Instead, I contend that each story produces its own politics in the act of writing. I broach the ethics of voice appropriation when writing about characters from different ethnic backgrounds and ask how an ethical practice might be possible. I relate my representation of the home to the cultural and literary debates around women's writing and the domestic, and defend the domestic as an important literary starting point. I contest the ongoing separation of the private and public spheres in the cultural evaluation of women's writing by demonstrating how I have placed the home at the centre of my stories about war and persecution. I situate my approach within war literature and analyse how the home is represented in war fiction by men and women writers. I consider how memory and imagination have played a complex role in my stories about childhood. I analyse the gap between the speaking, narrating self and the seeing, narrated childhood self in the story and argue that this gap is used by short story writers to interrogate the practice of writing the self. Finally, I take into consideration the form of the short story collection and contend that stories should be read in relation to other stories in a collection and not as single texts. Throughout the commentary I emphasise the process of writing and drafting of the stories rather than focusing on the finished text, and in so doing, I demonstrate that when writing there is no preconceived ideology between form and content; politics is written anew with each story.

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