The Electric

Hogan, Edward (2020). The Electric. London: John Murray (In Press).

Abstract

The Electric is a multi-protagonist novel charting the radiating effects of a death on three generations of a family in East Sussex. The main research focus of the novel was to examine, through practice, the attempt to create coherent narrative memory in the face of disruption and disjuncture. The disruptive elements in the novel include the loss – and relearning – of a dormant (sign) language, the impact of trauma, and the effect of the viewing practices of early to mid-twentieth century cinemagoers, who – due to the ‘rolling programmes’ of the time – often watched the ending of a film before the beginning.

The novel is comprised of two interwoven time-frames. Through the middle part of the twentieth century, Daisy, unhappy in her marriage to an ambitious policeman, takes solace in cinema. In the late 1990s, Linda, Daisy’s daughter, and Lucas, her deaf grandson, struggle to reconcile themselves to loss of Daisy. The two narrative strands circle each other, around the traumatic ‘gap’ caused by Daisy’s death. This structure, with its absences, repetitions, and disconnections, reflects the narrative disjuncture faced by the characters.

The novel also bears the traces of interdisciplinary research. Narrative disruption is a common theme of research in the fields of British Sign Language, cinemagoing, and remembered trauma. I undertook research in all of these disciplines when writing the novel – including studying BSL for two years – and their influence can be seen in both the content and the form of the book.

The novel is to be published in July 2020. Its original contribution lies in its representation of dormant memories awakened by Lucas’ relearning of sign language, and in its structure, which is based on the ‘rolling programmes’ of mid-twentieth century picturehouses.

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