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May 15, 2009

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newsteadAlthough I’m taking my laptop this weekend, I may not be online. If you would like to keep up to date on the Newstead Short Story Tattoo (or just my silly and possibly drunken adventures) follow my Twitter feed – I can update from my mobile phone (but not check any replies).

If you are in Vic and feel like going for a nice little drive this weekend, this sexy session is on tonight:

Sleazy Storiesare stories that have elements of sleaze. Some writers may see this as a cockroach, greasy, sordid, erotic, or just plain grotty. Writers from different spectrums will be performing their works including David Thrussell, Josephine Rowe, Neil Boyack, Andrew Mckenna, Sean M Whelan and Guy Cranswick. Tunes provided by Will Donkin and the Donks. Sugartime Burlesque show at half time. 

Tomorrow, Torpedo Volume 5 is being launched, then I’m in this one:

The Fictitious Woman brings together some of the strongest storytelling female talent around including Carmel Bird, Cate Kennedy, Jospehine Rowe, Angela Meyer, Tiggy Johnson, Eleanor Marney (to be confirmed) and Newstead’s own Janet Barker. This event will be MC’d by the driver of all things wordy, direct from Chewton, Zoe Dattner. 

My chauffeur/ROAD TRIP buddy Rhys is in this one:

Crimes and Crucifixions celebrates stories that have crime, may be about crime, or have nothing to do with crime. The Newstead Courthouse, with its tales of woe and ghosts, is the ideal place to face the jury and bench and read aloud the tales of Lucy Sussex, Eric Dando, Anne Gleeson, George Ghio, Helen Cerne, Rhys Tate, Fraser Mckay and Phil Mac on the saw with some tales of his own. Entry by donation.

Then there are Fire Stories – mmm, lit-warmth; A Pleasant Sunday Morning with one of my favourite writers Paddy O’Reilly; The Hard Ball – footy stories; and Dig’s Local Legends. See all venue and time details (and author bios) at the website.

Now for a little round-up of links for the week:

* Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali (at which I’ll be doing a panel) will take place from 7 to 11 October. They have just launched a new website. They are also on Twitter (and I’m sure the feed will grow more active in the coming months); and you can becomes a fan on Facebook.

* Speaking of new websites – you may remember my review of Louisiana Alba’s Uncorrected Proof. Well, ElephantEars Press has a new space, and here’s a great post on Louisiana’s blog about parodical influences

* There’s an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria for Jane Austen fans (or anyone who loves history, really) called Persuasion: Fashion in the era of Jane Austen. Must get along and see this, and the John Brack, myself soon.

* Feel like reading something girly and fun, while raising money for Muscular Dystrophy? Check out Australia’s Biggest Book Group.

* There’s a new(ish) author-presence website called FiledBy.

* Bloomsday is coming up on 16 June! I’m actually really excited, as I’m half-way through Ulysses and it’s an incredible work. I’ll write more about it when I’m finished. There’s an organisation called Bloomsday in Melbourne holding a few events and I can’t choose which to go to! Is anyone else doing something for it?

* Director Spike Jonze has a blog – We Love You So charting the lead-up to the release of his film version of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. It’s uber cool.

* Steven Amsterdam has been interviewed on ABC Radio National’s The Book Show. Check out the podcast. Stay for the great reading toward the end!

* And lastly, the May/June issue of Bookseller+Publisher is now available as an emag. Download from the website (top right). In this issue I reviewed Will Elliott’s memoir of schizophrenia – Strange Places. There are also articles on the ABA’s opinion of the Google Books Settlement; the latest slate of MBS titles; interviews with Irfan Yusuf and Nicholas Rothwell; and plenty more reviews of upcoming books including Brian Castro’s The Bath Fugues and Tim Flannery’s Now or Never.

ElephantEars Press, 9780955867606, 2008, UK (Aus, US)

Can something be playfully and overtly postmodern and still be readable – driving you through a compelling plot? Louisiana Alba proves it can be done. Uncorrected Proof is a postmodern novel that entertainingly riffs on form, style, character, tense, person – but with an overall thriller/quest type plot appropriation, it folds you into its delicious bizarro metascapes and humorous oft-satirical, oft-homagical visions.

Somehow Alba (if that’s who she really is… death of the author etc.) incorporates stylistic elements of hard-boiled fiction, screenplays, cookbooks, metafiction, the spy novel, cyberpunk, the literary novel, A Clockwork Orange, Gaelic, intertextuality, memoir and so much more in a book that self-consciously satirises the entire book and publishing industry – authors, editors, publishers – literary celebrity, literary delusions, literary snobbery, literary stupidity and so on.

 So what’s it ‘about’? Archie’s novel manuscript has been pilfered and plagiarized by Martyn Varginas, prolific mystery writer. Archie and his friend Cal plot a convoluted revenge through Archie getting work as an editor, and employing a re-plagiarisation of the book by a young hired-gun (or pen, as it were). What follows are kidnappings, political intrigues, sex, jaunts to New York and Paris (from London), Stake-outs, party crashings, a couple of book launches, boardroom drunkenness, author cameo appearances, mean streets, cop/spy banter, and a few disturbing murders.

I was completely absorbed in this book – somehow Alba makes it so easy to read, despite the switcheroos in style, and shifts in narrative drive and character motivation. The book’s title Uncorrected Proof displays irony – those not in bookselling or publishing may be unfamiliar with a ‘proof copy’ or ‘uncorrected proof’ – books that become available before release, oft-unedited versions of the final with spacing, grammatical and typing errors. This ‘published’ book, has a few (tongue-in-cheek) placed throughout.

Alba has worked in publishing, and is actually avoiding traditional distribution methods for the book, keeping in the uber-hip underground spirit of the novel – with a well-handled guerilla internet and out-of-hand distribution system. I came across the author through Facebook.

This book proves to me that extraordinary talent can be represented through shunning traditional publishing methods. This book is inventive, imaginative, and inspiring. It is a unique publication. If you enjoy Italo Calvino or John Fowles, or if you also work or have worked in the book industry, even on the fringes, you would get a great kick out of this novel.