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Frank Moorhouse Biography

(1938– ), Tabloid Story, Southerly, The Americans, Baby, Days of Wine and Rage

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Edgar Mittelholzer Biography to Mr Norris Changes Trains

Australian fiction writer, born in Nowra on the southern coast of New South Wales. He initially worked as a journalist (and in 1972 was one of a Sydney group which founded the alternative magazine Tabloid Story). His first story was published in Southerly in 1957. Moorhouse's fascination with the subcultures and sexual prowlings of urban society made publication difficult, but The Americans, Baby (1972) won acclaim. In subsequent collections Moorhouse refined his preferred technique of ‘discontinuous narrative’ in which characters and incidents recur in an apparently unstructured, but actually carefully planned, manner to allow the reader cumulative understanding. Days of Wine and Rage (1980), a series of 1970s writings edited by Moorhouse, provides a valuable glimpse of his Sydney cultural and intellectual context at that time, and complements both Futility and Other Animals (1969) and The Americans, Baby. The progressive Americanization of Australia, a phenomenon explored differently by Peter Carey, features also in The Electrical Experience (1974) and in Conference-ville (1976), a caustically hilarious account of the academic circuit. In Tales of Mystery and Romance (1977) the traditional structure and status of the family furnishes the source of ironic humour; the collection Room Service was published in 1985, and Forty-Seventeen—another ‘discontinuous narrative’—in 1988. The latter text subtly interweaves previous and new material to construct a wide-ranging work of great pathos and hilarity. In Lateshows (1990) two of the three sequences are clearly autobiographical while the third parodies literary, cultural, and political behaviour. His novel Grand Days (1993) portrays a young officer of the League of Nations and her sexual and political awakening in Geneva and Paris of the 1920s and 1930s.

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