DREAMTIME ALICE: A Memoir by Mandy Sayer
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Winner of the Australian/Vogel Award (1989) for her first novel, Mood Indigo, and recently named one of the ten Best Young Australian Novelists by the Sydney Morning Herald, Sayer makes her American debut with this compelling memoir of her experiences while living on the edge with her father as a busker in the magical, menacing underworlds of New Orleans and the streets of New York. Sayer's father was a jazz drummer in Australia. His intermittent here-one-minute-gone-the-next presence and his legends of excess while anywhere but beside his unstable family drove Mandy to seek him out. Together they set out for the streets of New York. Tap dancing to his drum riffs, negotiating his down-times of alcohol and drugs as well as the up-times of cocaine-induced ambition and frenzied visions of success, Sayer ""became a lodger in my father's castle. . . surrendering. . . to the indomitable architecture of his imagination."" Her narrative voice is vivacious and exact, no matter how grim the tales she tells. There are many points in the book when Sayer finds her younger self tempted to undermine her artistic voice in favor of her father's pull toward self-destruction. Her poetic style captures the stench of the flophouse, the grinding ache of feet that have tapped the sheen off the pavement, and the reality of life for a young girl who continues to yearn, blindly, for her father's love. Love does indeed save her, but it is self-love, her determination to finally and forever distance herself from her father's dreamtime dance. She becomes at last ""her own magician,"" finding a liberating power in the magic of words. This memoir is about finding that magic in the voice of expression. It is an incredibly vivid tale, filled with gutsy ingenuity and the stark range of emotion that Sayer survives. Her will to be heard may be tap-danced to her father's drum but it echoes clear off the page.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1998
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Ballantine