Monthly Archives

February 2018

The Novelist and the Poet

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Well I’m pretty happy to be going back to Blarney Books and Art in James Street, Port Fairy on the evening of the 15th March, 5.30 – 7.00 pm.

I’m even happier to be sharing the stage with Meridith McKinnon, author of The Thai Wife, that book that a whole lot of us read last year and could not put down.

When you arrive, you’ll be greeted by your host Jo, and Dean, a glass of wine or juice, a delicious platter and the novelist and the poet each eager to get to meet you.

When you’re ready you can choose a front row seat, a comfy lounge chair or one at the back that’s not too far away from the nibbles.

Meridith and I will talk and listen and answer questions and read from our work. The conversation we have together will not be so different from one or two that we’ve already had as writers of different genres learning about the approaches and processes of the other.

We will be looking forward to audience questions but if you’re someone who would rather sit back and absorb, that is fine too. When its all over we’re happy to talk to you individually or sign books.

I have not been to an event at Blarney Books that I have not enjoyed. I hope you’ll feel the same after March 15th.

Getting stuck into a good book

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I often buy books from a sense of good will: supporting the struggling author, admiration for what has been undertaken and achieved, gratitude to a bookshop for hosting book talks. Sometimes I buy them as a possible model for my writing. These four factors all contributed to how I came to own Into the World. There are not heaps of book events near where I live, so when one occurs and I’m free, I’m keen to attend.

Yesterday having seen the promotion for Stephanie Parkyn at Blarney Books, Port Fairy, I gathered a trio of friends and along we went. Stephanie is one of the most natural presenters I’ve listened to. She is gifted with a strong voice, an appealing manner and an enthusiasm for her subject that is contagious. She was only a little way into her talk when I was glad I’d bought the book.

This morning I began reading Into the World. I was reminded of the experience of reading The Rose Grower by Michelle De Kretser way back in the early 2000s. I was fascinated by the story, in love with the detail of and blown away by the stunning prose. I could not understand how (at that time) all Australia was not talking about De Kretser.

Stephanie Parkyn writes like a poet, her prose is spare and beautiful. After reading the first chapter, I carried the images of the young woman, Marie-Louise Girardin, leaving her child. I could feel the soggy warmth of the milk leaking from her bound breasts as she cradled her child for the last few minutes, see the tiny downy hairs at the top of his forehead as she kissed him goodbye, smell the rank of this part of Versailles as she hurried away.  I walked along the South-west coast of Victoria wondering about the women who had traversed this sea while daringly living as men.

I carried too that joy of being utterly absorbed in a story and an eagerness to get back to the book. It was such absorption that led me to read The Rose Grower three times before I met someone who had also read it. Another thrill for me is that satisfaction that comes from sharing ideas on a read book. At the event yesterday, I watched others purchasing Into the World. Now I’m wondering if their reaction is similar to mine.

I’d envisaged myself back against a sunny cliff as I read into the book today, but wind is pounding waves at cliffs, rain is splattering and the temperature is dropping. A perfect soundtrack for reading this particular book.