Some stuff in my week:
* A photo shoot for Emerging Writers’ Festival promo material with freelance/TV/ comedy writer Mia Timpano (I love this article of hers, have a look around her website while you’re there); librarian/comedian Josh Earl; games writer (and writer in various other mediums) Paul Callaghan; and comedian Xavier Michelides. We had to ‘pretend write’, talk and also look serious. The shoot was on the roof and within a plush vintage room at Madame Brussels. Can’t wait to see how they turned out.
* Some reading (duh). I don’t review everything I read as sometimes it gets exhausting, and to just read some books without having to remember to write everything down keeps reading fresh and pleasurable, and reviewing fun. But a couple of books I’ve read lately I would like to at least mention in passing. The latest Sleepers Almanac is one of the best short story collections around. The stories and poems are celebratory, overall. That is not to say there isn’t variety, and grumpiness, anger, destruction, sadness, and woe in these tales, but there is a certain life-affirming mood shared throughout the book. Families, lovers, children, friends, husbands and wives – humorous and poignant moments, situations and journeys. Favourites are Simon Cox’s sweet ‘How to Talk to People at House Parties’; Ryan O’Neill’s playful ‘Anatomy of a Story’; Liza Monroy’s memorable ‘Elvis, Husbands, and Other Men in Costumes: A Memoir’; Dan Ducrou’s gorgeous and relatable ‘The Etymology of Love’; Rose Mulready’s absolutely hilarious ‘Welcome to Romance Writing 1A’; and the poems ‘Off-white’ by Grace Yee, and ‘The Honeyeaters’ by Myron Lysenko.
The other book I enjoyed recently without taking a single note (nonetheless attacking with dog ears) was Frank Moorhouse’s Room Service. I wanted to read Moorhouse after his article in the ALR a couple of months ago, and this was a really fun introduction. The short pieces are collected travel writings of Moorhouse and his alter-ego Francoise Blase. Hard to tell which is which at times! I was hooked from the opening piece about him trying to cool his beers on the windowsill, but being afraid of the bell captain who charges 50c for ice. He sits in his room and has all sorts of suspicions about the bell captain and eats at the hotel and doesn’t go and explore New York. Many of the stories revolve around hotels and bars, and banal discussions about travel and beer and somehow they manage to be f**king hilarious to me. And I find it odd that I relate to this strange, obnoxious, snobberous old man kind of character (despite a few uncomfortable racial-type snipes etc. from Blase). All-in-all the level of my amusement means I have three more Moorhouse books in the reading pile.
* We’ve been following closely and reporting on at work the Productivity Commission’s look into the systems of territorial copyright and the parallel importation of books in Australia. The Productivity Commission’s draft report has come out, seemingly ignoring much of the detailed submissions put forward by the industry. It’s covered in detail with comments from all sides in the Weekly Book Newsletter. Have a look.
* The Sydney Writers’ Festival program is out. I can’t go as much of it clashes with the Emerging Writers’ Festival. Hopefully I’ll get there next year. Ahh, just noticed Philipp Meyer is going to be there – the author of American Rust, a book very much on my to-read list which comes out here in May. The author also stole my Dad’s name and spelt it differently. Meyer used to be original…
* I realised last week I forgot to mention the Miles Franklin longlist. We’ll discuss it more when the shortlist comes out. This year I may even try to read more of them. We all know I loved The Slap. I also have Toni Jordan’s Addition here. I have to admit, though, that not all of them are books I was interested in when I first read about/heard about them. Do you guys love any particular books on the longlist? If so, why?
* The Australia Council have some great publishing/producer mentorships that you can apply for.
* If you’re in NSW (or want to travel to NSW) tickets are available for the 2009 Contemporary Fiction Festival, taking place on April 5. Just look at this set of names: crime bestseller Michael Robotham; fantasy author Ian Irvine (who was one of my first mentors back in Coffs Harbour); true crime sleuth Tom Gilling; as well as award-winning literary writers Georgia Blain, Gabrielle Carey, James Bradley and Mandy Sayer. Also writers and anthology editors Frank Moorhouse (wish I could go!) , Delia Falconer and Aviva Tuffield.
* Last night I had a blast at a ‘prop party’. This is a very fun idea for a party which my lovely friends acknowledged they ‘borrowed’ from my parents. I got props for best prop:
He made the rounds all night. There were also fox stoles, gross-feeling plastic-spiked ‘rave’ gloves, an Alien prop, 3D glasses, two riding crops (which very innocent things were done with), a leaping frog statue, label maker, children’s keyboard and more! But I really am not sure what I’m doing out of bed now – not because of the alcohol consumed, but because I’m sneezing all over the keyboard. Not fun. Off to rest up.