You know, six months out from a book launch, you just can’t wait for the big day – it’s all just too exciting. Then there’s the week of the launch and you start counting down the sleeps. But then the morning comes and you think, why the hell do I do this? It’s the nerves: will anyone turn up? But there’s also the anxiety around a story, and the people of the story, who have been private for so long, years, all of it being made public: will the words and their intent come alive for readers?
In the end, people do attend book launches, and the book is officially sent out into the world, and you wake up the next morning and think, Wow, what a night; did that all really happen? Thank you so much to all those who came long to the launch of I’m Ready Now at Electric Shadows Bookshop in Canberra on the Thursday just gone. A packed-out independent bookshop is always a thing of beauty.
McEwan on the novella
I’m Ready Now is a novella, and some people have asked me what this strange beast is all about. It’s the million-dollar question – if there can be million-dollar questions in the world of literary fiction – and many have tried to come to a definition. Back in October of this year, Ian McEwan wrote the following in The New Yorker: ‘I believe the novella is the perfect form of prose fiction. It is the beautiful daughter of a rambling, bloated ill-shaven giant’. It’s a great line. But in a feature I wrote last year for The Canberra Times on the novella, John Clanchy dived deeper: ‘Whatever we call it, the novella isn’t a novel that’s run out of puff; it isn’t a short story that’s meandered beyond its natural length and lost its way. I like working with the novella because it shares some of the most attractive features of the novel – its expansiveness, its multiple layers of theme and plot – at the same time constraining them with features normally associated with the short story: intensity of focus, singularity of narrative voice and architecture, discipline of length. But all the while remaining a distinct species, not a hybrid.’
What some are thinking
As to the launch itself, a huge thanks to journalist and writer Chris Wallace for cutting the metaphorical ribbon. What’s the best thing a launcher can offer a writer? A close reading. And no bullshit. Chris, who is infamous for calling a spade a spade, offered both. Amazingly, there’s already a review of I’m Ready Now: it’s over at the unstoppable literary blog Whispering Gums. What I love about the review is that it begins with some reflections on the launch, and the independence of these reflections make them more valuable and interesting than anything I can do here. But the writer of the review, Sue Terry, also gets the books, so much so that she concludes that ‘I’m Ready Now is about living imaginatively and about liberation, but it is also about how the past can stall us if we don’t get it in the right perspective’. Those last few words, about how the past can grind to a halt if we don’t frame it correctly, really do get to the heart of the book.
Thanks again to everyone who came along to the launch or sent warm wishes. Special thanks to Marion Halligan, Karmin Cooper, and editor Nicola O’Shea who really helped to bring I’m Ready Now to life through offering very astute suggestions. And, of course, much gratitude to Greg Gould and Lesley Boland from Blemish Books for publishing I’m Ready Now (along with Fall on Me last year). I can only write what I want to write, and what I’d like to read, which means that I may never have the biggest readership in the world (though one can dream), so it’s brilliant that Blemish has made such a commitment to me as a writer and to the novella as a form of story-telling. What now? I just hope that I’m Ready Now is read. One final time: thank you. Until we meet again.
Your copy is here
I’m Ready Now can be purchased through your local bookshop or you can order it directly from Blemish Books – that link will take you straight to Blemish’s online store.