2 February 2023 at 6:09:21 am
Swinburne University of Techology
Julian Novitz is a senior lecturer in writing and literature at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of an award-winning collection of short stories and two novels.
Story cycles and climate disaster: Finding alternative structures for literary realist narratives in the Anthropocene
short story cycles, realism, Anthropocene, non-linear storytelling
Because of its looping, non-linear structure, the short story cycle is ideally suited to capture the everyday experience of the Anthropocene, particularly as it manifests through encounters with climate disaster. The dualistic nature of the short story cycle demands that its narratives be at once self-sufficient and interrelated. Its simultaneously fragmented and unified structure has the potential to address the complex interconnections and enmeshments of human and environmental elements in the Anthropocene in ways that work to integrate the consideration of climate disasters into everyday life. A Constant Hum (2018) by Alice Bishop, Florida (2018) by Lauren Groff, and How High We Go in the Dark (2022) by Sequoia Nagamatsu are all story cycles that centre, in some respects, on climate disasters. This article compares and contrasts how these authors approach disaster as a unifying theme or focus in their respective short story cycles, exploring their use of the non-linear form to address the ways in which disaster works to reshape landscape and identity, and express the mesh of human/non-human interaction that typifies life in the Anthropocene.