Peace, EWF & 'Helloooo, my name is Number One…'

dove-of-peaceFirst of all, happy ANZAC Day. It’s great to take some time to think about the young soldiers who have been sacrificed for our country, and the sadness of war – conflict, power, greed. I know that books and films have been beneficial to my knowledge and understanding of war, and of nationalism, patriotism (the genuine, the forced and the mythical) etc. These favourites are all films, but stories nonetheless: Gallipoli, Schindler’s List (I’m yet to read Keneally’s Schindler’s Ark), Good Morning Vietnam, Full Metal Jacket, and more. What texts have shaped your perception of war?

* The Emerging Writers’ Festival programme has been launched! Check it out here. If you’re in Melbourne or feel like travelling to Melbourne in May, do come along. As I was on the Programme Advisory Committee I was very happy to see that they used quite a few of the authors I suggested, and the programme is really strong overall – something for everyone.

Where will you see me?

15 Minutes of Fame:
On the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (May 25-28) from 5:30pm at the City Library in Flinders Lane, yours truly will be interviewing hot new writers (from novelists, to playwrights, poets, picture book writers etc.) about their publications, and how they got there, for 15 minutes at a time. I must also mention the exciting fact that there is wine tasting, and it is FREE. I will also try to wear a different outfit every day, though the tights might be a staple as I’ll be rushing from work on my bike each evening. Writers, wine, readings, mingling, what more could you ask for?

The Revolution Will be Downloaded:
Yeah baby. Come and hear me talk about the love of my life – this blog! On Saturday May 30 at 3pm I’ll be blabbering alongside Rachel Hills (uber-cool writer/blogger), and James Stuart (poet/new media dude). The panel will be hosted by Karen Andrews.

And in the spirit of the festival I’ll continue to feature the ‘Literary Space’ of participating writers up until it’s on. If you’re also appearing at the festival, feel free to spruik in the comments below!

number_one* You may remember recently that I talked about being on a list of Australian blogs on writing? Well after quite a few comments and prompts, Jonathan Crossfield of Copywrite actually rejigged the list. And I was surprised and honoured to come out at number one! Now, there are two things to note – these are blogs which are at least in part ‘about writing’, not ‘literary blogs’ in general, so omitted are blogs like Matilda, which is legendary. Also, it is based on statistics, not Crossfield’s opinion – you’ll see he has used things like the blog’s Technorati rating etc. These kind of stats show that a lot of folks link to me, and I get a goodly amount of visitors. So all in all, I’m just stoked. It makes me even more pumped to talk about cultural blogging on the aforementioned panel at EWF. Cheers for reading and linking! (Pictured: the original ‘Number One’).

* The May/June Bookseller+Publisher is on its way to subscribers. Just came in the office this week. I’ll tell you a bit more about it next weekend (forgot to bring a copy home – doh!).

* Overland and Meanjin are offering a subscription deal, explained in this inspired and lol-worthy video. Spend your KRudd money on some culture.

* The Short Review April is now up.

* Some of my favourite writers are recommending books for us over at Poets & Writers. Check out Joe Meno, Sarah Manguso, and the rest. By the way – like Sarah Manguso? Watch this space…

* And here’s a really interesting article from Publisher’s Weekly (thanks Tim), directed at publishers. What can they do better? The author makes some good (but not necessarily easily-applicable) points.

* Haiku comp winners will be announced tomorrow. You’ve got until midnight to enter!

16 thoughts on “Peace, EWF & 'Helloooo, my name is Number One…'

  1. Hello number one…I’ve very very impressed that so many blogs about writing are based in and around Australia.

    What texts have shaped your perception of war? Add Hemingway to the list. Bruce Dawe’s poetry. Plus I’ve just read the Kindly Ones (a month of my life!). I am very interested in the little void in Australians writing literary texts about Australia/Australians during World War II. Plenty of literature about WWI, and Vietnam conflicts, either as backdrops or from perspectives closer to the conflicts.
    I’ve been thinking about Australian writers writing about Germany/Europe during World War II- add The Book Theif and the Zookeeper’s war. It would make for some interesting research…

  2. I much prefer war auto/ biographies/ creative non-fiction to war fiction (exception: fiction written by the people actually involved in said war).

    So in the first category, ‘About Face’ by David Hackworth (an aside … in Korea, he walks past a lieutenant whose jeep has broken down. The LT, who is from an old cavalry division, is following the tradition of ‘putting down’ a seriously wounded steed by firing his pistol into its tyres. The sixth shot hits the rim, richochets and hits the LT square on the forehead. You cannot *make* this sort of absurdity of war up) and ‘Armageddon’ by Max Hastings.

    Category two: Vonnegut, Sassoon, Owen, Tim O’Brien etc.

  3. Troy – it would make for some interesting research indeed.

    Marmalade – I just haven’t read enough yet! About Face sounds, well, confronting (in a good way).

    And the name of a wonderful Vietnam memoir written by a woman I read this time last year has completely left my mind. I’ll come back when I remember…

  4. The best book (or one of the two) that I ever read on war is Peter Pinney’s ‘Signaller Johnston’s Secret War’, which is a really beautiful fictionalised autobiography based on Pinney’s time serving in New Guinea and the Solomons. It’s wonderfully written, and completely honest about Australians and their experiences, with none of the mythologising done by most texts on the subject. In terms of both its beauty and its honesty, it’s a tie between Pinney and Kenneth Harrison’s ‘The Brave Japanese’, (later republished as Road to Nagasaki), which is a straight autobiographical account of Harrison’s time as a POW on the Burma Railway. It’s the most kind-hearted and even-handed approach to being a POW that I read during my thesis research, and overall it’s pretty inspiring. Kenneth was the uncle of prominent Melbourne poet Jennifer Harrison.

    Other top candidates include Russell Braddon’s ‘The Naked Island’, another POW memoir, and Tash Aw’s wonderful recent novel ‘The Harmony Silk Factory’, about wartime Malaysia. This story is more tangentially related to the war, but it’s beautifully told. I think it was the first international bestseller by a Malaysian author, too.

    • Thanks so much for your contribution Geoff! And one I’ve read – The Harmony Silk Factory, completely absorbing.

      I also realised I didn’t mention Slaughterhouse Five. Marmalade, you mentioned Vonnegut. One of my favourite books.

  5. Am currently studying a subject at uni called ‘Literature of War’, where we tackle some of the more popular modern texts:

    Robert Cormier: After the First Death
    Don Delillo: Falling Man
    Jonathan Safran Foer: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
    Graham Greene: The Quiet American
    Ernest Hemingway: A Farewell to Arm
    Michael Herr: Dispatches
    Primo Levi: Survival in Auschwitz
    John Le Carré: The Spy who came in from the Cold
    Tim O’Brien: Going after Cacciato
    David Metzenthen: Boys of Blood and Bones
    Janet turner Hospital: Orpheus Lost
    Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughter House Five
    (and excerpts from Tolstoy’s War & Peace and Homer’s Illiad)

    as well as half a dozen films (Hiroshima mon Amour, Full Metal Jacket etc)

    It was my opinion before taking this subject, and even more so now, that warfare and its effects generates some of the best writing you’ll ever run yours eyes over. I thank the other comment-makers of this post for pointing me in the direction of even more great books.

    For a simple, stark and Australian war memoir/novel, check out Somme Mud by E.P.F. Lynch. Has a great back story to its publication as well.

  6. Sorry, the republished title of Ken Harrison’s book is actually ‘Road to Hiroshima’. Can’t begin to imagine why I got those two cites mixed up…

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  8. Oh MEGABRILL. Bravo Numero Uno.

    War? or the buildup? can’t go past Sebastian Haffner’s autobiographical account of Germany between the wars, posthumously published in 2000, I think, and a bestseller in Germany, Defying Hitler.
    Also Kurt V of course, My Brother Jack, and The Merry-Go-Round In The Sea.
    And Gravity’s Rainbow.
    And War and Peace (ahem). Can’t have one without the other.

  9. Yo! I had dinner with Rachel Hills on Saturday and she’s excited about your panel. Should be rocking. And here is my spruik:

    Truth and honesty in writing
    Saturday 30th May 1.45 to 2.45pm
    How much can a non-fiction writer bend the truth claim is ‘correct’? When can biographers fudge facts? Is Verbatim theatre about the history or the possibilities? What are the consequences when your truth is too personal and you hurt the people you are writing about?
    With Lisa Dempster, Krissy Kneen, David Mence and Scott-Patrick Mitchell
    Hosted by Dale Campisi

    Ok, and the Express Media Skills Share session:

    Getting In with the Cool Kids, a guide to independent publishing.
    Lisa Dempster, 2-4pm

    Should be a fun few weeks!

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