I would not have done this had I thought it possible that it was in some important way, a sell-out of Rocky and Gawenda . Mind you, the possibility–faint but tantilising, I admit– of fame has crossed my mind. Several times in recent weeks, I have woken in the middle of the night to find myself in the grip of a rather pleasant dream. There are variations in the settings and storyline of this dream, but the essence of it is the same. Here is one: Rocky and I are in the middle of the MCG and the crowd is very large, this most fabulous of stadiums filled to overflowing and there is cheering and laughter and Rocky, freshly clipped and shampooed, is hardly at all affected by all this attention and adoration. He is most interested in the state of the cricket pitch area, the smell and texture of it to be specific, and is engaged in an intense exploration of its history.
It is Grand Final day and Rocky and Gawenda’s main character, that is Rocky, has been chosen by the Essendon players, each of them having become devoted fans of Rocky–if not of me– to be their mascot on this great day. The Bombers have made the GF and everywhere, there are black and red flags and banners, one of which has printed on it in large letters `Do It For Rocky’. Even in dreams, there is disappointment at work, for the fact is that I desperately want them to do it for me. But Rocky is known and loved across the breadth of the land so it is appropriate, in order for it to work in terms of inspiration, that the banner refers to Rocky. Lying there with the dream still upon me, I think that it is plausible, especially the adulation of Rocky. What is not plausible, what even for a dream is a fantasy, is that the Bombers have made the Grand Final for the Bombers, despite early promise, won’t make the finals let alone the GF. Hope is gone. Dreams have been dashed. All is now stark and painful reality as far as the Bombers are concerned.
Not so for Rocky and Gawenda, for the essence of this dream is not the fantasy about the Bombers, but rather the adulation of Rocky, no-longer the province alone of those who have followed his life story here on this blog, but those who read Rocky and Gawenda the book which has taken the publishing world by storm, a book so resoundingly successful that the publisher has begged and pleaded with me to give her 60,000 words by the end of the month in order to quickly publish Rocky and Gawenda 11.
Most of the time, I hasten to add, I dream smaller dreams and when I am fully awake, I think my motives for agreeing to have Rocky and Gawenda published in book form have rather less to do with the attractiveness of the sort of celebrity that comes with producing a big best-seller, a big seller that would have producers fighting over the film rights with Rocky signed to play himself and me played by the Israeli actor Topol –with his best Australian accent on show– and more with the seductions of a book which, unlike a blog, even if a few copies are sold–God forbid– will survive me, even if only on the bookshelves of my children.
I have come to consider this publication of Rocky and Gawenda in book form as a sort of revival of an old tradition in which writers– Dickens and Dostoyevsky and all the great Yiddish writers– were first published in serial form in newspapers. I am not old enough to have read Dickens this way, but I remember when I was a child that my father read the stories and novels of Isaac Bashevis Singer–the only Yiddish writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature– in the American Yiddish language paper, Der Forvertz—The Foward— copies of which he received by airmail every week. As an aside, I must say that my father was not much enamoured of Singer who he considered to be a popular rather than a literary writer, which makes me wonder what he would think of this blog and especially of the book were it to sell a few copies. Still, my father continued to read Singer in serial form.
This blog became a way to tell a story in serial form, Rocky’s story and mine, and it has developed a life of its own and it goes to places that surprise me and that a few readers of this blog have told me surprised them as well. I am set loose in cyberspace, free, unconcerned with those things that concerned me and constrained me and defined me in my life as a journalist and reporter.
So Rocky and Gawenda, still in the grip of winter and its rewards but with Spring coming and with the sunrise earlier each day so that by the time we head home, the sun has edged over the horizon and the clouds are pink tinged again and on clear mornings, the kiosk at the end of St Kilda Pier is again aglow, Rocky and Gawenda the serial is, I hope, far from finished.
Rocky and Gawenda: The Story of a Man and His Mutt is finished and will be published by Melbourne University Publishing in October. I love the cover so I have posted it above. As for what’s between the covers, I am told by my publisher that it adds up to a sort of memoir. My view is that if this works as a book, it’s because Rocky is so damn regular and predictable when it comes to getting me up and out and on the beach in plenty of time to see the sunrise.
Now given that my son’s two blogs were considered by many among the best posts on Rocky and Gawenda so far, I feel obliged and more than that, eager to offer him a little plug for his band Husky which is doing three nights at the cabaret venue, the Butterfly Club in South Melbourne next week, Thursday August 13, Friday the 14th and Saturday the 15th. It is a small club and the band will be mostly acoustic. The show starts at 7.00pm.
Bookings at: www.thebutterflyclub.com