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A Year in the City and Footnotes.

I have three chapters left in A Year in the City.

It'll be done some time next week, thank whatever. Once it's done, once it's checked, it'll be printed out twice, and a copy'll be sent to my long suffering supervisor, and my newly anointed hasn't suffered one bit co-supervisor. Then they'll read it and, assuming nothing in it completely tanks, I'll get it back, fix up the errors and be done. Finished. All that will remain for the phd will be to finish up the academic side, the first comments of which are coming in back solid. The old co-supervisor, who suffered a little, said it was a lean, muscular piece of writing, and my regular suffering supervisor said it was good, solid, and the word it needed was nothing strenuous. I know it needs work, but the fact that with a couple of months left I don't have to return to square one on any of the arguments, that there are no major flaws... heaps cool. I can see the end of this thesis. It looks like unemployment and day time tv. I can't wait till I'm updating this blog with reviews of Days of Our Lives or whatever that show with Ridge and dozens of plastic surgery victims is.

But as I come close to the end of the novel, I ask myself, have I gone too far with the footnotes? Is there a footnote limit? As of chapter fourteen, 'November (White Crocodile Jazz)', I have 83. This was footnote 79:

b. 1972, Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. The Snake Handler has never told anyone in Sydney that he is from Ipswich. If asked, he says that he is from Brisbane and only Brisbane. The denial of his childhood is due to the fact that, as a teenager, he used to visit the fish and chips shop owned by One Nation founder, Pauline Hanson. His shame comes not from the fact that he ate food prepared by the red haired woman, but that while eating the chips, he imagined that her hands, with their long, red fake tipped nails, would run lightly (in a moment of tenderness that was outside Hanson's usual shop front demeanor) and masturbate him in the back room. In his fantasy, he would stand behind the plastic beaded curtain, and customers would wait, unknowing of what was taking place five or ten steps away from them. His shame is further compounded by the fact that when he sees Hanson on television, appearing as she did on the show Dancing with the Stars, this fantasy returns.


Sometimes the footnotes are different. Two footnotes later, and the main character of the story is narrating them, as part of his drug aided journey to find a killer after eating the heart of an albino python. That doesn't make a lick of sense, I know, but just pretend it does. But mostly, the footnotes are like this, small little moments for the minor characters, adding to the tone of the chapter, sometimes undermining the main characters awareness, other times linking to other footnotes. A Year in the City is a novel about a city, and the footnotes serve, in their primary function, to help build up that sense of other individuals living throughout Sydney, and the fact that this is a city that draws its population from a vast array of areas, even horrible places like Queensland, for which we all know that nothing good has ever come.

Yes, indeed.

Still, 83 footnotes, and three chapters left. I wonder if I'll hit a hundred. There's probably a limit to this type of thing. I probably passed it last week some time, when I was writing about Beirut.

Comments

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(Deleted comment)
benpeek
Jan. 6th, 2006 11:02 am (UTC)
thanks. it's funny how you can still milk a pauline hanson joke, years later...
black13
Jan. 6th, 2006 10:59 am (UTC)
It may be just me, but if I leaf through a novel (not non-fiction)in the store and see footnotes, I put it back on the shelf. Why? It breaks the story's flow, which to me is important. If it's important to the story, the writer should fit it into the general narrative. If it's not important to the story, why is it there?

I think the only writer whose foot- and endnotes I tolerate is George McDonald Fraser, but those aren't required reading for the novel. They just illustrate the historical background, and can be blissfully ignored.
benpeek
Jan. 6th, 2006 11:04 am (UTC)
yeah, footnotes do break the stories flow in a traditional straight narrative. i'm not particularly bothered by that, but i understand if people are. that said, i've seen some good uses of footnotes, and i liked the way it was used in HOUSE OF LEAVES, in particular, to run multiple narratives.

but yeah, i get your point.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 6th, 2006 01:02 pm (UTC)
"that sense of other individuals living throughout Sydney, and the fact that this is a city that draws its population from a vast array of areas, even horrible places like Queensland, for which we all know that nothing good has ever come."

Isn't Deb from Queensland?? ;p
benpeek
Jan. 6th, 2006 09:39 pm (UTC)
Isn't Deb from Queensland?? ;p

i don't know what you're trying to imply ;)
bodhichitta0
Jan. 6th, 2006 03:33 pm (UTC)
Hmmm... your footnotes in The Dreaming City didn't bother me. I felt like I could read them at the end of the page if I wanted to. But the work I read in the anthology was "only" about 30 pages. I've read some things where they are pretentious and awful and sorta trendy (Like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell which I liked but puh-leez with the footnotes already). So IMO, in can go either way--and if the above on is any indication, you're probably doing fine with them.
benpeek
Jan. 6th, 2006 09:40 pm (UTC)
well, i figure people can read them much like the other ones (though they are different--very few of them are based on facts, more like things like this.) but you know, i reckon some people will not like the footnotes, some people will. it's all good in that way.
kazzibee
Jan. 7th, 2006 12:02 am (UTC)
haha i was born in ipswich.
benpeek
Jan. 7th, 2006 02:59 am (UTC)
did you find it exciting?
kazzibee
Jan. 7th, 2006 03:01 am (UTC)
ha, more like exiting!
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