Melbourne Writers Festival diary 2009 part six: like a mother to a son

‘We were all feeling a bit shagged and fagged and fashed, it being a night of no small expenditure.’ – Alex, A Clockwork Orange (film version).

I slept in and I’m running late for things but I would never forget about ye, droogs.

Wednesday night I hosted cocktails at Match Bar in the city. We played continuous stories. Here’s a sample:

They called him the glass whisperer. The queues outside his door stretched for nearly five kilometres. Hairline cracks, fractures, he would fix them all. Fix them. Fix them. Good, proper and bloody. A rusty hammer should do it. Fix her brain, and proper. Because everyone loves a retard. Kaplow! Kaplow! Boom bitty boom pow! His name is Shane and he likes to rap. He puts the beef in the bim bim bap! So that meant that from the way he dribbled when he saw me, I had a chance. The way he touched himself gently, like a mother to a son.

Yes, it was damn fun. Contributors to this and other stories which may be blogged later include Fiona Wright, Jodie Kinnersley, Anthony Noack, Nicole Taylor, Giles Simon, Tom Conyers, the mysterious Fenwick Abernathy, Sam Cooney, Chris Currie and Estelle Tang. Some others didn’t write their names on the back, but we had a good little crowd. I drank tequila, too much…

6948342100528bYesterday, Thursday 27/8, I attended industry sessions, which covered digital publishing, devices, and the future of the printed book. Since I will be writing up a lot of this for work, I won’t go into it too much here. But Estelle was also at the sessions, and has provided a nice summary. One thing I enjoyed, was seeing a demonstration of the ereaders distributed in Australia by Central Book Services. They really vary in size, price and features. I would need one of the ones where you can make notes on the screen, like I do in printed books. Here’s a taste of what’s on offer. While I would love one to have a play with, they’re still pretty damn expensive, and the technology is changing so rapidly, we’ll have more light, elegant, feature-filled models even in six months.

At lunch time I rushed out to see Tom Cho interview Josephine Emery in a session called Josephine on Joy. Thuy Linh Nguyen was there, and an astute observer, I’ll let you read her take (and about other things she went to during the day). As she notes, I recently interviewed Josie – you can find that here.

In the evening, I hosted my first SPUNC Spectacular, interviewing authors, editors and publishers under the SPUNC umbrella (Small Press Underground Networking Community). Have a look at the community’s website for details on all their publisher members, and their books. I spoke to Rebecca Starford, of Affirm Press, who told us about their new project Long Story Shorts (short story writers – see the info in Affirm’s news section here). I spoke to Kalinda Ashton, representing Sleepers, and got quite lost in her words when she read from The Danger Game.Then there was Enza Gandolfo, representing Vanark Press, with her moving novel Swimming; Peter Ralph, representing Melbourne Books with The CEO; and Rachel Matthews representing Transit Lounge, with Vinyl Inside – she gave a very vivid reading from this 80s caravan-park-set novel, which I really enjoyed.

swimmingThe session went spectacularly well, the festival club was full and everyone semed to be engaged and enjoy the readings. I had a ball. Looking forward to Saturday and Sunday – come along! 6:45pm each night.

After that, I ran up to the Toff for the second-half of Liner Notes – where a varied bunch of poets and performers interpreted songs from Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Yana Alana was the stand-out act for me, who did a hilarious take on Billie Jean. I wasn’t planning on drinking, having been still hungover from Wednesday, but my friend Luke was shoving tequilas in my hand – so I had a couple. Hence the sleep-in and running late.

I’m sorry for a not-so-comprehensive blog post. I’ll go into detail about a few of the sessions over the weekend. Still three days to go! Here’s a bit of gossip though:

* Bernhard Schlink bought Anne Summers The Lost Mother from Readings, and got her to sign it (according to the staff)
* Chris Flynn took Wells Tower on a Victorian countryside trip yesterday – looking forward to hearing what Wells thinks of the country
* Jessa Crispin is hilariously defiant – in that she has no idea how Bookslut became so popular and she has no ‘secrets’ to divulge, which makes other panellists/audience members frustrated, and makes me giggle. Good on her for telling the truth! My thoughts are: 1. there was nothing else like it around seven years ago, when she started it, and 2. she’s a damn good writer/reviewer. I’d love to recommend her some good Aus fiction to take home. I’ll see if I can catch her around.

5 thoughts on “Melbourne Writers Festival diary 2009 part six: like a mother to a son

  1. Ah, so jealous. The digital publishing session sounds so cool especially after Mieville and Amsterdam had that really geeky chat last Friday.

    And I only just found out about Affirm’s Long Story Shorts. It sounds like such a cool project.

    I’ll probably see you Sunday.

  2. Whee. I can finally ditch my avatar name.

    Thanks for linking to my post. I wished I had written more on Josephine and Tom. Tom asked some great questions, and Josephine gave some even greater answers. 😦


  3. The Glass Whisperer is a choodessney bit of writing. Now get some spatchka bezoomy devotchka. And look after your gulliver. This makes sense if your remember the t-shirt Ange.

  4. Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for Melbourne Writers Festival diary 2009 part six: like a mother to a son - LiteraryMinded [] on

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