Canberra Anthology Launch

I’ll be at my old haunt Canberra launching my old Uni’s writing anthology Analecta. Monday Nov 19, 7pm. Smith’s Alternative Bookstore. Details HERE.

Here’s my first ever anthology introduction:

In Adaptation, Meryl Streep reflects on her boyfriend’s obsession with orchids. “There are too many ideas and things and people,” she says. “Too many directions to go. I was starting to believe the reason it matters to care passionately about something, is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size.

This makes me think about the ‘infinite scroll’ world we live in and how it overwhelms our attention to the point where we dwell within indecision. Our souls stall. As humans we need to flow and grow. That’s where the short story comes in. Each piece is a whimsical whittling, a distillation of the mega-complex of life into a concentrated shot of clarity and connection. A humanity booster.

Or thereabouts. You catch my gist. Fortunately for you, dear reader, saturated by the robo-moguls and their holographic bombardiers, you may find safe passage within the smooth pages of this freshly pressed anthology – a centrepiece of the determined Professional Writing students at University of Canberra. Dudes!

When life throws fruit at you, make punch. Each of these pieces packs an emotional punch. Heck, there’s even a filmscript plum in the middle – you can make your very own Netflix show, shot entirely on your phone! There’s poetic pinings for lost loves, investigations of the family mind and a fairly serious circumstance with an emu. Not to mention the cliff-hanger ‘Canberra bullfight’ between a kangaroo and a shopping trolley. Our coat of arms is fully represented.

So clap your eyeballs on the tangible precision of the printed page. When life stops making sense, it’s time to check back in with your senses. See the sights of dawn-saturated blinds and a time-kissed face, smell the scents of sandlewood soap with a hint of jasmine while savouring strings that play like ribbons in the wind. Then there’s the err…almighty squawk. (Did I mention there’s an emu? Feathers and envelopes p. 27.)

Literature is the original virtual augmented reality, just add imagination. Margaret Atwood compares words to musical notes waiting to be played. Each reader will have a different interpretation of the material. It’s a beautiful thing, sharing the space between thoughts. The closest we have to a Vulcan mind meld or a Delorean time machine. (There’s a sci-fi / fantasy piece in here somewhere, I assure you.)

I’m glad these wordsmiths have been published, many of them for the first time. Readers need writers and writers need publishing. Do not underestimate the thrill and validation of seeing your hard earned drafts proudly fortified in font. This is a chance to support your local creatives and celebrate the rich culture of Canberra in the here and now! When in doubt, buy the book. (Be seen with it on the bus and appear 35% more interesting.)

You’ll find love, sex, nostalgia, mental illness. Wait, that’s my Ok Cupid profile. But seriously folks, there’s crime, masculinity and everybody’s favourite: POETRY. Can I just say, the poetry here is quite good (try Jerzy on pages 32 & 39 with your mains). Reading is taking a bath in someone else’s mind. How do they piece together the puzzle of our psychology? Each writer has a flavour, an aura, some fleeting cloud of glitter and anger, joy, humour and hunger. A good sentence is a firework in the night – lighting up your eyes and shocking your heart to racing.

So, what is writing for in 2018? When I could just wave at myself on Google Earth or binge watch The Nanny. Art whittles the waffle down. It taps us on the heart with its message stick and pokes us into place. Writing is humanity disco dancing on a gravestone while tasting the rainbow biscuits of imagination. It’s being told a story at the pub of your dreams with a strange friend you haven’t met yet. What’s happening in your 4am stare off with the universe? I don’t know about you, but if I had to start somewhere I’d be hungover on a bus to Kiama. Fortunately, that’s just how this baby kicks off.

Analecta – it’s Australian for anthology

(and Greek for gather, technically.)

 

World Mental Health Day

Every day is World Mental Health Day at my house. Take heart everyone. You are always stronger than you think. People aren’t thinking mean things about you. That’s just you being too hard on yourself. : )

Colour wheel

Aimee Mann released an album last year called ‘Mental Illness’ – the best name check since ‘Thank God For Mental Illness’ by The Brian JonesTown Massacre. This is a great song with a lot of cat in it.

 

 

 

Love Your Bookshop / Gado Gado!

I’ll be appearing at Brunswick Bound from 3pm today signing copies of Get Up Mum and generally looking well-read. I may even give away this educational basketball card.
I’m the “lunch” feature in The Age today. I can’t remember what I said because I was hungry. We dined at my favourite Indonesian restaurant Yuni’s Kitchen. (I studied Indonesian in grade 7 and can still sing ten green bottles: “Sepuluh botol hijau, di atas pagar!”) My favourite dish is Gado Gado (a rad salad with peanut sauce, egg, tofu and crunchy bits) – I like to sing it to the tune of ‘G’day G’day’ by Slim Dusty.
Why not kick off Love Your Bookshop Day by revisiting Bjork at her bookish best.
“A good book is the precious distillation of a master spirit, embalmed and preserved for the purpose of achieving a life beyond life – which is why it is, undoubtedly, a necessary commodity.” Florence Green, The Bookshop.
(Mate, I’ve been saying that for years.)
#loveyourbookshopday

 

Melbourne & Brisbane Writers Festivals

Get Up Mum has gone into a second printing. Thanks everyone for your support, retail and otherwise. 

Check out the latest promo video featuring excerpts from Montello Primary School Book Week 1992!

Get Up Mum will be relaunched at Melbourne Writers Festival Sunday September 2. I’ll be conducting a service in memory of my child self. Tickets available HERE. I’ll be appearing on a panel at Brisbane Writers Festival Sunday September 9. Tickets available HERE.

IMG-0430.JPG.

Brisbane / Sydney launches

30167795_10155770252673992_3007421511662412908_oSnavel a possie at the Get Up Mum Brisbane launch at Avid Reader Bookshop this Friday and be wowed and dazzled. Come for the insight, stay for the Le Snaks. There will be mental health, show ‘n tell and quizzically handsome gentlemen. Hosted by David Stavanger. Click HERE for Facebook event.

And the winner is…SYDNEY when I rock up with my treasure-trove cavalcade of nineties delicacies. Featuring Moroder ballads, bickie n dip, Benjamin Law & my childhood. We’re taking it one memoir at a time and reading is the real winner on the day. Better Read Than Dead, Thu July 19, 6:30. Click HERE for Facebook event.

IMG_2108

Get Up Mum out May 21

I have a new book coming. It’s a memoir about my childhood. Think Angela’s Ashes meets The Castle. The Melbourne launch is Sunday June 10 at Northcote Uniting Church. I will be conducting a service in honour of my child self. All welcome. Men bring a plate.

For Book Week in 1991 the theme was ‘Book Into The Future.’ Get Up Mum is a time capsule crossed with a time machine. This is one of the first songs I wrote, ahead of its time.

 

Book into the future

Wake In Fright review

I micro-reviewed the Australian classic for The Lifted Brow a few years back.

Image result for wake in fright text classics

204 pages – feels like a short read.

Schoolteacher goes on a dark bender in an Australian desert town.

Mood: Hot, dark and claustrophobic. The hazy mash of inebriation. Trapped in a car with foul men. Face to face with a stabbed kangaroo.

Best sentence: Things half remembered and terribly feared, shrieked at him; tears of mystic terror rimmed his eyes.

Previous review: “A classic novel which became a classic film. The Outback without the sentimental bulldust. Australia without the sugar coating.” Robert Drewe

Funfact: A keen amateur lepidopterist, Cook established the first butterfly farm in Australia on the banks of Sydney’s Hawkesbury River in the 1970s.

Best Australianism: “What the blazes…”

Suggested food pairings: Overdone steak from a hot bonnet. Lashing of cold beer.