20 September 2011
A mother-daughter tale unlike any other
The program director of Creative Writing at RMIT University, Dr Francesca Rendle-Short, has published her second novel, an investigation into the very nature of storytelling.
Bite Your Tongue is published by Spinifex Press.
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Bite Your Tongue (Spinifex, 2011) is the story of a teenage girl growing up in Queensland during the 1970s, the daughter of a morals crusader: Angel Rendle-Short/Mother Joy Solider.
The tale is thoroughly embedded in former Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen's conservative Queensland, a time of great social change for the whole of Australia.
The narrator's family is characterised by the fervour of religious fundamentalism and extremism, which manifested itself in Angel's highly public, right wing activism.
The novel is also the story of the daughter as an adult and a writer, facing her mother's mortality while at the same time "discovering" her in archival materials.
These threads are woven together in a curious mix of novel and memoir, each informing and illuminating the other with their different voices, making Bite Your Tongue a highly original work.
Using this unusual form, Dr Rendle-Short presents a personal social history, documenting a strong, conservative protest movement with a very real list of books to ban and burn.
Dr Rendle-Short is the author of the novel Imago - named 1997 ACT Book of the Year - and the novella Big Sister (Redress Novellas).
Her short fiction, photo-essays, exhibition text and poetry have been published in literary journals and magazines, online and in exhibitions.
Bite Your Tongue will be officially launched at Readings, Carlton tonight, Tuesday, 20 September, at 6pm by Carrie Tiffany, author of the novel Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living, shortlisted for the Orange and Miles Franklin awards.