Shit Creek: Suburbia, Abjection and Subjectivity in Australian ‘Grunge’ Fiction


Andrew McGahan's Praise, Edward Berridge's Lives of the Saints and Clare Mendes' Drift Street explore the psychosocial and psychosexual limitations and excesses of young sub/urban characters in relation to the imaginary and socially constructed boundaries defining notions of self and other. Instead of upholding the moral, geographical and social boundaries reflected, in part, through the designations urban and suburban, the characters in these texts challenge imaginary borders by opening up liminal spaces that disturb established cognitive maps. The construction of an abject body is coextensive with the production of this liminal space and, in the narratives I discuss, the abject body is given a legitimate geo-cerebral identity and a series of shifting sites from which to speak. This essay explores the means through which 'grunge' writing establishes identities for those on the social and cultural margins, identities that contest and ultimately renegotiate the borders of city space.

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Published 1 November 1998 in Writing the Everyday: Australian Literature and the Limits of Suburbia. Subjects: Australian literature and writers, Grunge literature, Place & identity, Self perception, Suburbs, Urban life, Youth culture.

Cite as: Brooks, Karen. ‘Shit Creek: Suburbia, Abjection and Subjectivity in Australian ‘Grunge’ Fiction.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 18, no. 4, 1998, doi: 10.20314/als.e720d5e707.