Imaginary Westerns: An Exegesis to Sleepwalkers Songs

George, James
Mountfort, Paul
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Master of Creative Writing
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Auckland University of Technology

Sleepwalkers Songs is a multiple viewpoint, multiple time-frame tandem narrative ‘siege story’ featuring – as its Story in the Present – a cast of five members of a loosely assembled family journeying the length of New Zealand in a classic Cadillac to go to a country music festival. Each of the family members is on the journey for different reasons, with their hidden agendas and conflicts providing the story’s electricity. The various Stories in the Past of the characters’ lives are interwoven with the present day narrative, as backstory, as energeic plot and to build up layers of conflict, tension and misunderstanding. Conflict that threatens to (and does) ignite at various points on the journey and detonates in the story’s third act. The story’s central action is a moment of trauma that permeates all the character’s lives in different ways, to corrosive effect, and is played out in ever increasing (flashback) snatches throughout the novel. The truth of this is revealed finally, in the story’s climax.

The accompanying exegesis interprets and theorizes the thesis through several reference frames: the conceptualization, practice, and developmental issues inherent in creating a multiple viewpoint polyphonic siege narrative, the interweaving of written story with narrative forms and iconography found in folk and country music and genre Western cinema, and role of folk and country music as a form of working class literature.

James George , Sleepwalkers Songs , Imaginary Westerns , Exegesis
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