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Two novellas, one night out in Canberra: what can go right?

Two novellas, one night out in Canberra: what can go right?

The past and the present
There are good people in the world. It might be hard to believe, especially in Australia as the conservatives rip the heart and soul out of the nation. But it is true – good people do exist. An example? The very fine folk at Scissors Paper Pen, the ACT-based writing collective that makes things happen. The group’s latest adventure is The Same Page, a bi-monthly (that always sounds a touch rude, doesn’t it, or extra interesting) book club in a pub. Back in April they asked me to be on the panel and we had a robust discussion about Lucy Neave’s quietly affecting novel The Way We Were.

The tables have been turned for next month. Shit. The panel will be discussing dear old Fall on Me and I’m Ready Now, two novellas I know a bit about. I won’t be attending, because if I’m not loved I’m in tears. But also because I don’t have to attend: I’ve secretly set up hidden web-cams in the venue so I’ll be able to watch proceedings from the comfort of my own couch[1]. So, if you live in or around the ACT, if you like a good read, if you like a good yarn, if getting into fisticuffs about literature is your thing, head along to Scissors Paper Pen’s The Same Page night at Smith’s Alternative, 6,30pm, Thursday 19 June. Just remember that earlier point: if I’m not loved, I’m in tears[2].

The near future
While I’ve got you, the third and final of the Blemish novellas is getting close to having its moment in the sun. A couple of things to share. Firstly, we have a title: The Beach Volcano. Secondly, I’ve seen a draft of the cover. It has a picture of me at the beach as a three-year-old with a little red plastic spade in hand and a very fat belly hanging over my little red Speedos. That’s not at all true (like some other elements of this post, as already identified). But the cover is wonderful; it’ll match Fall on Me and I’m Ready Now very nicely. Is there a launch date and venue? No, not yet. Blemish is waiting to see if there’ll still be a fair and decent Australia from which to launch the book. Or whether it might be better to do it in Sweden. Sweden sounds good, don’t you think?

[1] Might not be true

[2] This might not be true either; I’m really quite tough, you know – I shave my head and own a Clash record on LP

Blemished Evening FlyerJust a quick Blemish Novella Story update and rare mid-week UTC post, for two reasons.

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…

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