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 LISA does not have chapters as such; rather the narrative is broken up into ‘chance’ paragraphs with individual headings which allows the novel the freedom to not always move along a normal linear discourse. In fact, I nonchalantly consider the manuscript as having a more circular - even organic development - progressing and flowing if you will in different directions - but along branches all connected to the same trunk. (Book as sacred tree). However, the MSS is in three major parts: NIGHT, DAY, ETERNITY. The theme of each part will now be discussed.


      Prologue. (Somewhere on the North Coast of New South Wales)

I.                     NIGHT. The Heart of the Beast.

II.                   DAY. The Sanctuary of the Subconscious.

III.                 ETERNITY. The Motion of the Stars.



NIGHT. The Heart of the Beast.


Michael, a Greek-Cypriot friend of Lisa’s visits where she is living on the NSW north coast. He reminisces meeting Lisa in inner-city Sydney on a night when she was distraught: she is splitting up with her boyfriend Danny.

 Lisa is pregnant and Dan does not want the child.

 Michael and Lisa attend a fire show which is held outside the Supreme Courts in Darlinghurst. Lisa recalls a previous break-up with an other boyfriend named Timothy. He is bisexual. Lisa contracts A.I.D.S from Timothy.

 On this awry night Lisa ends up sleeping in Michael’s old Holden. Michael leaves her there and going for a walk meets Dan and heads with him to the Hopetoun Hotel, Surry Hills.

 Virgil, an Andy Warhol look-a-like lawyer friend of Dan’s, takes them on a night excursion through Oxford Street.

 At this point it should be pointed out that the three-part schema of the novel loosely follows Dante’s Divine Comedy. NIGHT in a general way relates to the Inferno.

 The narrative in NIGHT leads back to the north coast and to people such as Margaret, a woman in her fifties, who will support Lisa through her illness.

 Michael learns of Lisa’s medical condition on the north coast.

 With her young Downes Syndrome daughter - Melissa - Lisa will move to Sydney for further treatment.


DAY. Sanctuary of the Subconscious..


This second part revolves around Melissa’s christening. This act initiated by Lisa is meant to be seen as an act of defiance by the probable early death of both herself and her daughter.

 Purgatory is time waiting and we learn of Lisa’s time in Sydney as she ‘waits’ for her death.

 When Lisa moves back to Sydney she first stays with Cat. He is a ‘musician friend’ of Michael’s who has just returned from the U.S.A. He is a self-styled, drunken street prophet who rightly perceives the U.S.A as a grand imperial power.

 Cat sees Lisa as a marginalized person in terms that relate her predicament to a wider macro-level which deals with the powerful and the powerless. Those on the social margin are methodically kept there by those who maintain their strong position in the center.

 The general theme of human mortality is also considered especially in relation to the idea that all physical mortality seems so inevitable that a structure as immense as the universe also faces death.

 A possible alternative point-of-view which provides hope is given by the elderly minister at the christening. He notes that medieval pilgrims – who recognized how earthly power crucified the saint – placed their faith in the ‘Eternal Rose’ i.e. those on the earthly margin who place their faith in a divine love may enter into a divine center. (the basic premise is that the spiritual will outlast the physical). It is the same point made by Dante.

 It should be noted that allusions to life as a life-sapping labyrinth are made throughout the novel (such as references to the Minotaur). The minister provides a positive alternative ‘mandala’ to this negative view.


ETERNITY. Motion of the Stars.


 This last section  opens up with a despondent Michael at a Gods & Angels party. Against the background of this party (with references by Cat to ‘ancient fates’ as faced by the likes of Achilles and Polyxena) Lisa’s fate is considered: she has died; yet through a cultural response she has arrived at ‘eternity.’: she has painted a cloth which will be presented at her funeral. It is based on an Aboriginal design – thus recognizing the original spirituality of this continent. Significantly, it is those who live on Australia’s social circumference who provide the cultural/spiritual opportunity for Lisa to be ‘centered.’

 Like the christening, Lisa finds a sort of ‘immortal resolution’ by ‘contacting eternity’ in the face of certain death. It is something belatedly recognized as Michael, Margaret and Melissa throw Lisa’s ashes into the sea off Dover Heights and look up to see Venus – named after the goddess of love – at the end of the novel. 


* This synopsis was written in January 2005 to this novel that was formerly titled: Lisa’s World and then as LISA.








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