Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sticks and stones can break them bones

I think one of the best things about my current working life is its flexibility. Take today for example. While I rushed into the office this morning – the real one, where there are other staff besides cats and I have to wear my bra – and got cracking by 9.15am it wasn’t long before I realised that things on the current issue of the mag weren’t quite where they needed to be so I couldn't do much of the on-screen editing work. I decided I’d be better off coming home and getting on with some website text that is now due and head back to the office on Monday.

Of course I stopped in at South Melbourne Market on the way through and picked up some fabbo ingredients to cook up home made pizza tonight and, of course, I dropped into the Prince Wine Store in South Melbourne and picked up something as similar to the Austrian drop that I discovered in Byron Bay on the weekend as I could find. Now I am blogging but you see … I will get to the website work.

Big problem now though is that, when I opened the letter box, the paperwork for the Crime and Justic Writing Festival – organised by Reader’s Feast - has just arrived and now I feel COMPELLED to have a big smooch through it and see what there is to attend.

I’m in full crime mode because, after finishing The People of the Book, I have turned to a a paperback I picked up in a three-for-$15 deal. Gotta love it! I don’t really read investigate/crime stuff too much anymore. I, like many, was an obsessive reader of Patricia Cornwell and the like in the 90s but I have tried to reduce the dose of crime fiction in recent years and broaden the old mind.

Anyhoo, I picked up Jack Kerley’s Death Collectors which I thought would be good for the airport. Within moments I was hooked and I remembered what made good crime writing so hard to put down. Kerley’s got a great turn of phrase, gives his male characters some fresh and honest feelings, emotions and reactions to things and he comes up with some fairly outrageous plot ideas. Love it. He’s as smooth as butter as a writer and this was only his second book (two more have followed I believe) but he has spent 20 years in advertising selling ice to eskimos should be bloody well able to see a story to me.

The People of the Book was a surprise. I guess I thought it would be a bit more of a challenge. I forgot that I had already read Geraldine Brook’s Year of Wonders which is about a young woman’s battle to save her family and her soul when the plague strikes her Derbyshire village in the 1600s. I didn’t mind that book but I remember it being very accessible. This skill of Ms Brooks is probably required when she tackles the huge job of tracing the journey of a rare illuminated Hebrew manuscript from (stealing from her website) “convivencia Spain to the ruins of Sarajevo, from the Silver Age of Venice to the sunburned rock faces of northern Australia”.

It can be tricky when an author introduces a number of different stories within a story because, if you end up getting entrenched in one set of characters and their lives, you can feel kind of disappointed when you're dragged out of that world and into another one. I’ve got to say though that I did learn a bit about theological writings, the fate of religious documents during times of war, the ever expanding catalogue of sins committed by the Nazis (was there ANY area they left untouched?) and, amazingly, the fate of family during war. I think the most important thing the book gave to me was time to pause to think about how one minute people can be living normal, very urban, very modern lives and the next moment bombs and bullets can be tearing through the streets and everything becomes surreal.

I want to find out more about Sarajevo now. I am shamefully unclear about the things that have happened there in the past two decades but any region where Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism peacefully coexisted throughout centuries is surely worth some attention.

I mean, did you know that, in 1914, Sarajevo was the site of the assassination that sparked World War I? I bloody well did not. God I am a dunce. Apparently the city is now recovering after the hideous Bosnian siege. Somewhere worth visiting I am thinking.


Talking about visiting … Mr & Mrs P in Austin have undergone a major trauma. Mr P fell off a truck while helping friends move house. The result? Broken leg – he’s got a rod in it – and a broken arm with FIVE!!! pins in it AND a fake elbow. Joisus!

We’ll see how things proceed but my thoughts are with them. Luckily they grow love like weeds wherever they go and, within two days of the accident, a benefit gig was held (it was to be Mr P’s first stand alone Benny & the Fly By Nighters gig) and money was raised to go towards medical costs. Impressive huh? The venue was the Continental Club
1315 S. Congress Austin TX . I am writing that here to remind me to visit just in the office chance the injured lovebirds fly the coup before October.

Don’t forget to send cheerios:

The Horton Bros in Austin continue to be legendary friends to the Ps and I believe a chap by the name of 'Bear' was also one of the performers. THANK YOU.

See Bobby Horton's blog at and see a review of a Bear album here:

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