Sunday, July 25, 2010

on the trail...

...Melbourne is supposed to have a very high number of cinemas per capita...but how about bookshops? as I start dropping in to shops to let them know about the book, I am discovering there are more than I thought...94 according to, but I'm sure there are even more.

It's not exactly a hardship posting, being sent off to visit as many bookshops as possible, and from the few I've been to so far, I am pleasantly surprised at how open they are to being ear-bashed by an author. they positively seem to like it. so expect to see the Book all over the place.

and on something completely different: July 24 was
Life in a Day
day, in which people all around the word videoed their days and uploaded the results to be edited into a video. I like projects like this: random recording of information that somehow reveals what's really going on around us. My vids included my kid playing at the breakfast table, a few seconds of the Yarra bike trail (yes, while riding along), the Eastern Freeway traffic at Doncaster Road and the pet guinea pigs. All seemingly banal, but who knows how odd it might appear to a viewer in 200 years. and with digital technology, it's actually possible that all those recordings from around the world will be there to look at in 2210... they might be pointing and laughing at all those carbon-burning cars, for instance...or looking wistfully at the animals that had become extinct...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

judge this book... its cover...this little composite person is me, playing with the images and art of Melbourne. or so I like to think.


Melbourne movies

In the A2 of Saturday, July 17 - which I can't find online, or at least not the contents, but is well worth chasing up - Suzy Freeman-Greene has written a lovely piece about the Melbourne of movies - covering of course many of the same films as I've written about in the book - she talks about "that inward jolt of recognition", and the way Melbourne is, sometimes, more of a mood than a place and "unspool your own buried feelings." She writes about how films show up the class divide - and the divide between east and west - going right back to The Story of the Kelly Gang, "where Kelly and his cohorts drink a toast in mugs after robbing a carriage-load of toffs".

It's cold and wet out there: it's film festival time in Melbourne.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Launch fun...after some tiny hitches we have a great venue - the Bella Union Bar at Trades Hall - and a date - Tuesday August 17 from 6.30-8.30 pm. and the highly amusing Alan Brough, comedian and radio arts host, is coming along to help launch the book.

Put it in your diary now!

Monday, July 19, 2010

the Deb

Went along to the Wheeler Centre's Debut Mondays last night (I'll be reading there on August 2).

Three novelists - not particularly Melbourne-specific - and one poet were on. The poet was Andy Jackson, and I had come across his work before. Having just walked through the crowded, modern Pan-Asian street scene that is the north end of Swanston Street on a Monday night at 6pm, I particularly liked the title poem of his new book Among the Regulars - about being on the margins of things, being the outsider, being, in effect, the person who makes everything else "normal". (Jackson is sometimes described as "physically unusual")...sometimes it's the people at the edges of things who have the best grip on feelings the rest of us can't quite get at. And yes it was a Melbourne poem, set in the city streets, with the towers casting angled shadows.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sonya Hartnett's suburbs

@ the State Library tonight, Sonya Hartnett gave the 2010 Redmond Barry lecture on the topic of Melbourne suburbs and writing.

the talk ranged across the houses she's lived in and what books she wrote there; a childhood in Box Hill, rentals in Kew, Hawthorn, an ugly brick first-homebuyers' unit in Northcote.

"But I write, often, of the suburbs, and it's the suburbs, that most maligned and mocked of environments, that have sheltered me, and taught me almost all of what the books needed to know about the ways of nature and people. Specifically, it is the eastern and northern suburbs that have been my roof and walls and floor as well as the launching-place of my imagination," she said. "Melbourne's my own personal city of literature."

She's more or less my age and has lived in many of the suburbs I've lived in, so there was a lot of resonance for me. Walking the Merri Creek in particular is exactly my territory (except that I ride it).

Some samples:

On West Preston: "Anyone who wanted to visit had to make an effort, almost pack a bag."

On Burke Road: it was like an unwanted but financially necessary flatmate "In the dead of night, its dull snoring presence was companionable."

On South Yarra: that it was too nice, that it confirmed for her that "rough around the edges suits me... I've favoured a down-at-heel-ness in every suburb I've lived in since."

On the streets of Balwyn: "Those streets appear over and over in my work." She said the suburbs of Melbourne gave her a kind freedom as a child: horses in paddocks, exploring the drains, riding along safe streets on a red bike.
She seemed to think that movement and new places were necessary to her, and to her writing; that each house (except one mistake) had a certain number of books "in it"

I liked a segment near the end, where she was musing on having moved around so much and said she'd dreamed she found the perfect house - but then forgot to write down the address and could never find it again...

(I think the talk will be up online somewhere soon; there were cameras; if I find it, I'll post a link to it. )

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Everywhere there are people talking about the things I find interesting: even, gasp, in student magazines.

In Farrago 4, 2010, a student called David Threlfall has written a rant about things he hates. Beards, music wankers, yes, yes, but mostly: Cars. I particularly like this sentence: "I have yet to hear anything that gives cars a higher moral status than bikes." He goes on to explain how bikes don't kill people, basically. This is an extreme and more succint version of some of my arguments in the book about bikes being more than just transport: of them being a different way of negotiating the world.

Do like an opinionated uni student...