Document Type

Original Creative Work


School of Arts, Regional and Professional Studies




McKenzie, V. (2011). Complications, dotdotdash, Winter, pp. 56-58.


Background: Complications is a short story published in literary magazine dotdotdash and explores the expression of identity. Arguably no genre of creative production can investigate identity like fiction can, with its privileged access to interiority and psychology that is akin to thought. Fiction that directly engages with mistaken identity offers a way to deepen this investigation. 'Complications' plays with the several meanings of the word to investigate unstable identity in the modern subject: a medical complication leads to an untimely death; complicated family dealings put a young person in an untenable situation.

Contribution: First person point of view is used with innovative effect in 'Complications', where a complex narrative structure blurs the neat distinction between two protagonists. The work was included in an edition of the literary journal themed around the idea of the sacred. Despite the provocations of postmodernism we regard the continuity and stability of our personal identities among our most sacred notions. But modern life increasingly troubles this assumption; the work’s original approach to narrative structure illustrates how people may be forced to assimilate ruptures that threaten to overwhelm them.

Significance: In his preface to the edition the editor selects 'Complications' for comment and writes that it 'details how the past comes to life, additionally exploring how sacredness imbues our own identity, how our self-identity shifts and changes in our conversation with the world, and how our names and bodies, although serendipitous markers of ourselves, are sometimes set aside from our conscious self' (Sj Finch, dotdotdash 07 (Winter 2011), p.8). dotdotdash is nationally distributed and at the time of publication had a circulation of 500, with 5% of short fiction submissions published. It receives grant funding from DCA and Australia Council of the Arts via Express Media.

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