The first – and perhaps most important, if anything about all this could be considered ‘important’ – is that tomorrow night (20 June), at 6pm, I’ll be taking part in my publisher’s Very Blemished Evening at Smith’s Alternative, Canberra City. Can you think of a better title for a literary event? But this isn’t any old literary shindig, because this one has music, by the always cheeky Jason Recliner, and mountains of booze from the bar. So do drop in, have a drink and a dance, and listen to words by poets J.C. Inman and P.S. Cottier as well as myself. I’ll be singing – yes, singing – an entire chapter from I’m Ready Now. Okay, I may have made up that last bit; I’ll simply be reading a couple of saucy excerpts.
Speaking of I’m Ready Now, this being the second in what I hope will be a series of three novellas, all of which exploring contemporary Australian family life, has scored a warm and appreciative review in the Newtown Review of Books. The only response a writer really wants to their work is a close and thoughtful and open reading, and that, to my utterly biased mind, is what Walter Mason has done. Click on the link above for the whole deal, but the tastiest morsel might be this:
A newly widowed Tasmanian woman travels to Sydney to start a new life and begins her journey in the in-between space of her gay son’s stark one-bedroom flat in the inner city. This is the premise of Nigel Featherstone’s beautifully crafted novella, I’m Ready Now, a book that examines the impact of ageing on a grieving rich widow and a lost gay man approaching what he can only perceive as a hopeless middle age. Featherstone writes with sensitivity and a terrific eye for what it is that makes love – or at least sustained sexual connection – so very thrilling. Ultimately I’m Ready Now is about ‘feeling life’ – feeling one’s way around its unpleasant limits and reaching the end of its strangely narrow circuits. Thoughtful and frequently wistful, it serves as a guide to Sydney’s sadder streets and as a map of those moments of emotional maturity where you realise that it isn’t going to work out. Nuanced and thoroughly original.
Cue glowing heart.
If you’re in the ACT region tomorrow night, I look forward to seeing you – I’ll be the one whose legs won’t stop jiggling from nerves…