The Past is a Foreign Country

O'Rourke, Maris Lillian
Harvey, Siobhan
Kidd, Kerry
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Master of Creative Writing
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Auckland University of Technology

Zigzags and Leapfrogs: A Memoir, is a description of my quest to reconcile two, often conflicting, aspects of my existence. One is my search for a place to belong, a place to be assimilated into, a place to stand, my tūrangawaewae; the other is my obsessive desire to achieve, and preferably succeed, to be different from/to stand above the crowd.

The memoir begins in the present day and, come the conclusion, returns to it. Between first chapter and last, important events and influences in my life are examined in roughly chronological order. However, a variety of approaches has been taken to create a collage, rather than a straight chronology: for example, a graphic comic sequence, poems, anecdotes, photographs, a fairy tale, a questionnaire, and excerpts from an interview of me by someone else.

The accompanying exegesis, The Past is a Foreign Country, details the process I went through to deal with things such as facing difficult issues, ethics and truth, genre, archiving of material and the shape and structure of the memoir as a work of creative non-fiction.

Combined, thesis and exegesis strive to create what Natalia Rachel Singer calls a hybrid memoir: …in which a writer presents a life through a lens that reflects both inward and outward.... [T]he best memoirists allow their life experiences to shed light on a culture, a historical moment, a time, a place, a social problem, a political issue that remains timely.

This aspect of the memoir needs further development and deepening.

Creative non-fiction , Memoir , Hybrid-memoir , Collage-memoir , Chronology , Autobiography , Archiving issues
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