Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rod Howard's 'A Forger's Tale' Podcast.

A Forger's Tale, the extraordinary story of Australia's first novelist
by Rod Howard
Arcade Publications


To begin with this book held a rather parochial appeal for me. "Again," I thought, "Van Diemen's Land (aka Tasmania) ahead of the zeitgeist, setting the tone, leading the nation. Again, this small, still chilly and isolated island spawns a first." And I settled in to read it with a grin on my self satisfied convict-heritaged face. The book does tell the story of Australia's first novel but it also tells of a strange man living in stranger times. My grin faded as my astonishment at the story unfolded.
    Henry Savery, now known as Australia's first novelist, was convicted for forgery in 1825 and, after a gruelling series of negotiations and a trial, was sentenced to transportation to the newly established penal colony of Van Diemen's Land. The son of a well to do family with sway, Henry was a charismatic entrepreneur and on sentencing, his tale becomes even more captivating.
    Henry attempted to abscond with his wife and child to America, and when faced with impending re-capture he jumped overboard and tried to do away with himself by smashing his head on the hull of the boat - tragic and tragi-comic events like this are spliced through the tale. The tribulations normally expected on passage to Van Diemen's Land were assuaged, his landfall and subsequent employment (as indentured labour) were, to begin with, comfortable. He wrote an anonymous column (as 'The Hermit of Van Diemen's Land') which included assiduous and cutting summations of what was going on under Governor Arthur's increasingly neurotic rule. He fell into and out of favour with various power brokers - and he sent for his wife and child to whom he could be assigned as convict labour. They arrived, she broke his heart - and he attempted to take his own life again.
    Quintus Servinton was published in 1830 and from all accounts is a stodgy and tedious, semi-autobiographical novel, which varied most signifigantly from his life in its happy ending. It preceeded Woman's Love by another Van Diemonian, Mary Grimstone by 2 years and For the Term of His Natural Life, generally presumed to be the first Australian novel, by 44 years. For more academic detail about both Savery and Grimstone here is a PDF of E. Morris Miller's 1958 paper 'Australia's First Two Novels; origins and background'.
    A Forger's Tale was launched in Tasmania last week by the irrepressible Lindsay Tuffin, editor of Tasmanian Times. Here is his introduction speech - where he articulates the paradox and intrigue surrounding Savery's life and times.
    And here is a most enjoyable interview I did with the author Rod Howard, who came to know Henry and his nuanced existence intimately - and has written about him most beautifully. Listen to the podcast here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Housewife Superstar - podcast

Would you prefer rabbit stuffed muttonbird or pickled tripe?
Actually you don't need to choose because the recipes for both of these delicacies are found inside Housewife Superstar; The Very Best of Marjorie Bligh (Text, 2011).
Marjorie, for those of you who don't know, may very well be the inspiration for Barry Humphries' Dame Edna - and that is only one of the mysteries that award winning novelist Danielle Wood sets out to unfurl in this intricately researched biography of Australia's (2nd) best known (and possibly most competitive) housewife.
Listen to the podcast of my chat with Danielle about Marjorie, about the irony (or not) of Nigella Lawson - as well as some of the best 'household hints' Marjorie has to offer HERE

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Guest Review; Andrew Harper discusses The Bogan Delusion'

The Bogan Delusion by David Nichols was published earlier this year by small Australian publisher, Affirm Press. Andrew Harper, artist, writer and raconteur, read it, loved it and you can listen to the whole review here. One of my favourite parts of this review is when Andrew tells of his first ever encounter with the author David Nichols. It was many years ago at a very early Dirty Three gig, supported by The Cannanes, Nichols' band. Then, as he is now, Andrew was a skilled heckler. Andrew didn't realise he had made an impression on the band until he came across a mention of himself in a zine, described  as "the worst and most annoying hecklers he (Nichols) had ever encountered," a description that Andrew recounts with relish. The Bogan Delusion, Andrew says, is about the concept that the bogan doesn't exist except in the minds of the inner city elite - an 'other' created to affirm a sense of inner city self. "it is othering, it is hating and fearing without even understanding," he says.

Andrew can be found on Twitter here, blogging here


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

#heartfelt 1

#heartfelt is a project about human and cyber connection and connectivity. 
The written word buoys connection.

 Through the various mechanisms that cyberspace offers, I encourage you to tell me your favourite book and your postal address and, whether I know the book or not, I will send you a postcard.
The message on your card wll be considered and heartfelt response to you and your favourite book. I want to connect with you for a moment and I want this to arise from an exchange in cyberspace. 


 The light blue magic of an aerogramme seemed to contain so much news when I was little. Recently I sat down to write a thank you aerogramme to my little sister for the pegs she gave me for my birthday but I felt as if I couldn't get the flow happening; that the 'news' was elusive. It was only when I had reached the almost secret backwards flap that twice tucks inside to the aerogramme like a hidden window, that the flow started, and I felt as if what I was writing would connect with my little sister. A strange connection when the message simply traveled onto paper from my pen, but nevertheless a connection in the making.
    I love connection and I love flow; soaring around that crazy unknowable formula that people have between them. The challenges of trying to connect with people even within a microsecond exchange; eye contact with the bus driver in the morning, a moment of intense conversation with a customer, through to the verbally corny smile at a stranger on the street. I don't foist the connection - it can only be made if both sides are functioning - and I'm definately not a 24/7/365 functioning connector.  Bad connections occur often; a misinterpreted tone, irreverence seen as frippery, assumptions, loss of heart and mind in an exchange.
   Then there's the vortex of cyberspace, the anonymity, the fractious comments, dissipated notions and the fact that 'overshare' has morphed to normal. In that vortex, though, there are amazing connections and ideas; communities and vibrant spaces of connection. And I love it. The true knowledge, the elders, the teaching and the learning, There are so many opportunities to connect.
    I finished the aerogramme to aforementioned little sister, feeling somewhat disheartened that it wouldn't be a smooth read, that, most probably, there would be nothing to make her heart hum, let alone sing. Which got me thinking; it's not volubility or verbosity that creates connection, it is clarity and truth and honesty. 
I pondered the tweet-sized connections I make every day and a thought occured to me. I reached for my (ever present) phone and tweeted 'tell me your favourite book and your address and I'll send you a postcard with a #heartfelt message.'  That was about a month ago and I have posted around 30 postcards to date, received one back, met new people and my heart and mind are whirring in an inspired way. Every card I write has me thinking and feeling in a different way.
    That's how this #heartfelt project started.
Stay tuned to hear more about these connections - and leave a comment, tweet me, email me or FB me what your favourite book is and I will send you a #heartfelt card. If I've already sent you a card I may blog about your book, your card and the connection that you made with me. 
Thank you.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Special blog post for the Fullers Bookshop Reading Groups

*explanation for this strange blog entry
        I facilitate the Reading Groups in my workplace, Fullers Bookshop. In June we are reading 'Past the Shallows' by first time novelist, Favel Parrett. I often provide some 'reading around' material to the groups and, as a broadcaster, I feel that 'listening around' is just as effective. The material below is primarily for that purpose, though Favel is such an articulate and warm person and her book, while very much up for discussion at the Reading Groups, contains a robust exploration of human emotions I would encourage every single one of you to have a listen.
 
Dear Reading Group,

      here are two podcasts of Favel Parrett talking about her work 'Past the Shallows'
The first is a rough and ready version of an interview I did with her. An edited version of this will go to air on Edge Radio on Tuesday, June 21st at 6pm.

     Interview with Favel Parrett for Edge Radio

    The second is the talk she gave to a packed cafe at Fullers Bookshop on April 28th. You can hear everything she says though the questions that the audience ask are not audible.

    Talk at Fullers Bookshop, April 28

  When you click the links you have the choice of listening immediately or downloading for some delayed auditory gratification.

with love,
Paige and Rachel

PS - If you would like more information on the reading groups, click here

Monday, April 18, 2011

Anna Lanyon and the Mexican Inquisition

  Years ago I read Anna Lanyon's book Malinche's Conquest. It tells the story of Malinche, a Mexica (Aztec) woman who was Cortes' lover and mistress and - as much as a fifteenth century indigenous mistress could be, his cultural attache. At the time I was also reading the likes of Hugh Thomas' epic 811 page The Conquest of Mexico, and The Penguin History of Latin America as well various academic texts about the translation of Mayan glyphs. To read the unique historical voice of Malinche, told in accessible narrative form was a welcome break from the weighty and sometimes dry, historical accounting that can be found in books with very specific subject matter.
   In Fire and Song The Story of Luis de Carvajal and the Mexican Inquisition it's the voice of Luis de Carvajal, a sixteenth century Sephardim, a Jew who was born on the Iberian Peninsula, and his family as they journey from persecution in Spain and Portugal to persecution in New Spain, the enigmatic and vast land we now know as Mexico.
   Luis' voice has been stored throughout history in the form of not only the detailed records that were kept by Inquisitors but also in his 'Book of Miracles', where he recorded, in minute writing and unpunctuated detail, the story of his family, their belief in the Law of Moses, the daily trials of keeping their religious beliefs secret as well as day to day life for their family.
   This book is a historically accurate, detailed yet straightforward read that tells a story of a man persecuted for his beliefs that stills resonates today.
   In the podcasted interview Anna also talks about what it is like researching the Mexico of the 16th Century and the experience of using the archives in Mexico City, which are housed in an old gaol. She recounts myths about how the Jews arrived in Spain and Portugal, and she talks affectionately about the three generations of the Carvajal family she came to know through her research.

Fire and Song
by Anna Lanyon
Allen and Unwin, 2011
9781741147087

The interview featured in the podcast will also be broadcast on The Book Show on Edge Radio

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Paris and tiddas with Anita Heiss


I chatted with Anita Heiss today, before she arrives in Hobart this weekend to launch her new book. Admittedly, as I dialled her number for the interview - which you can listen to in full here - I felt a little in awe of everything this high achieving, high profile, intelligent lecturer in Indigenous literature and Wiradjuri woman could bring to the interview - and she was gorgeous, down to earth, garrulous (in a good way) and generous with her thoughts and opinions. Ostensibly we were to talk about her new book - a Koori chick-lit novel called Paris Dreaming.
  In reality our conversation roved from writing methods - she is a method writer - "I had to go to Paris, I had to stroll along the Champs Elysses and I had to eat a lot of macaroons," to Aunty Patsy Cameron, whose new book Grease and Ochre (Fullers Publishing) she will launch in a double celebration this Sunday at Fullers Bookshop at 1pm -as Patsy launches Paris Dreaming. "Grease and Ochre will contribute to a growing core of Indigenous literature coming out of Tasmania," Anita said as we chatted about the Indigenous Literacy Project, for which she is an ambassador.
  Paris Dreaming is published by Bantam and tells the story of Libby, who has a high powered job at the National Aboriginal Gallery in Canberra and who is on a "man-fast," only to  find herself working at the Musee du Quai Branly en Paris (excuse my accent) and faced with the vissicitudes of flirtatious baristas and smooth-tongued lotharios. Yep, it's chick-lit through and through - it's a tested and proved formula and it's good fun to read. Chick-lit attracts the vast majority of female readers between the ages of 18-45, and, as Anita says "32% of indigenous people live in urban centres, but there is no one that looks like me on the page."
  We also talked about tiddas, which is an Aboriginal word that crosses state and in some cases language lines and it's my favourite new word. It's used in Victoria and NSW and it means friends, and in Paris Dreaming, it's Libby's tiddas who are there for her. It made me think of my tiddas with appreciation
- and it was also was the name of this gorgeous group of female singers who came out of Victoria in the nineties.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Old news and new

Dear blog,
    it has been so long since I last wrote in you. A lot has been going on and I'm not really sure where to start, but you are not a diary and I will be methodical. I had a gorgeous, gorgeous Summer with my adorable friends and (mostly) adorable family. I have read some good, some bad and some downright ugly books (a paradox of working with one of the things I love most in the world).
Christmas was crazy (job numero uno involves selling books - and pre-Christmas retail from the 'other' side of the counter is not the most desirous of pastimes). My sister was here from the UK - she works in a museum which sounds amazing. She also, I have discovered, does some guest blogging at the London Happiness Project usng the name Pippalippa, which is not her real name but it is very close.
  I have a new job as Emerging Editor of Islet an online journal of micro fiction and visual art which is part of Island magazine. I'm enthused, excited and inspired - and will blog about the process here.
  In Hobart, my (non possessive) amazing city perched on the edge of the earth, a grand and curatorially mindblowing museum opened -it's MONA and I'm embarrassed to say that the closest I've got to it so far was the cattleclass shenanigans of the opening party and while I may have accidentally crashed the VIP area I am yet to wade through the bowels of the museum proper. MONAFOMA rocked my mid January world - seeing and hearing Neil Gaiman reading a story was the highlight.
I sat, entranced, as if I were on the mat in grade two being read to by the teacher- though this time it was in a huge shed, with a beer in my hand and surrounded by grown ups - and he was accompanied by Four Play, a sexy string quartet and there were large images from Eddie Campbell projected as a captivating backdrop.

    I have conversed with some gorgeous, informed and inspiring people on The Book Show on Edge Radio - last year the show ended up with a grand turntabley bang - when Dale and Michael from Arcade Publications interviewed me. Others who I've chatted with on the radio so far this year include Anjum Hasan, Maris Morton, Posie Graeme-Evans, Ivy Alvarez and Danielle Wood . Accordingly, I am way behind with podcast uploads. Stay tantalised crew, the podcasts will cyber-fest (like manifest though in cyberspace) any day now.
Over Summer I also read the Edith Grossman translation of Don Quixote - though that's a whole 'nother post. I also did a digital publishing course and learnt some new things. 

  It was a fantastic summer. I even got the flu and scored three whole days in bed (I rarely get sick and even more rarely afford myself the opportunity to stay in bed for three whole days - watching DVDs and drinking orange juice, better still).

Excellent things are still going on - and here is what is coming up over the next week alone -
We are full-flight into Ten Days On the Island - Tasmania's biennial arts festival Next weekend, as part of Ten Days, is the Home Truths Literary festival - lots of discussions about books, about writing and about ideas - something that I hope will make all of our heads hurt just a little bit and in a good way as we have our minds stretched and entertained.
  In the lead up to the announcement of the weirdly organised Tasmanian Book Prizes, Fullers Bookshop is hosting all of the nominated authors and publishers reading over three nights later this week - here's a link to the full details. Also at Fullers on Sunday, April 3 at 1pm is the launch of both Patsy Cameron's Grease and Ochre  and Anita Heiss' new Koori Chck-lit Paris Dreaming. Next Sunday is also the day of the launch of the latest edition of Islet and I will be there celebrating with the incumbent Emerging Editor, the capable Anica Boulanger-Mashberg, whose patience and wit is making the job handover entertaining AND informative. That's at the Town Hall at midday and will also be the launch of the latest edition of Island
  Next Friday, April 1 at 5.30 at the Hobart Bookshop is the launch of David Owen's latest Detective Pufferfish novels How The Dead See. One of my earliest ever blog posts was a review of an earlier Pufferfish No Weather For a Burial.
Phew. I hope to see you round the traps- and I'd love to hear what you're reading or if you know of any other exciting book or word related events.

A short piece on publishing in Tasmania

A long time ago I picked up a copy of Christopher Koch’s award winning novel The Doubleman from my parent’s shelves. It was the first time...