Good Old Boys – David Malouf and team save the Mitchell Reading Room


As reported here and there. Evelyn Juers, one half of Giramondo Publishing and independent scholar and author, has been keeping me posted on this absorbing struggle. 
Having had struggles of my own at granular level here, patiently bashing out a community based program for my son with financial and moral support only, (heck, we take what we can and run with it, don't we?) I neglected to send out her media statement a while back.

She did faithfully send through links on the battle, which I tweeted, including one to a petition which eventually gathered almost 10,000 signatures.

And two some days ago, the exciting news appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald that the wishes of Australian scholars would be respected and their space inside this iconic study room extended and soundproofed, without diminution of the visual and practical support they usually enjoy there.

Service enhancements and improvements to the Mitchell Reading Room include a glass wall, extended study space for scholars and the maintenance of access to special collections, though the future of specialist librarians in these areas remains uncertain. Books previously removed (and even a card catalogue) will be returned to the reading room. 

Glass walls. Serious Strong stuff. Sending a powerful message to beancounters in beautiful libraries everywhere – Scholars Matter.

(Cross-blogged from Mulberry Road.)

Posted in Australia - Writing, Libraries matter, Newsy stuff, through the streets of your town | Leave a comment

As the narrator of The Swan Book might say – “WELL!”


I've already quietly filed away a personal post on the illnesses of other family members this year, in the drafts section, as this has never really been that kind of a blog. However, it is true that people close to me have been very sick this year, and will be for some time. But on top of that, I am going to be having a strange life for the next couple of months.

I threw a tantrum with unexpected rewards attached last week, after hearing my son's behaviour in care had deteriorated to new lows,  not previously recorded.  As I said to the manager over the phone, "if they haven't told me about this, then what else is going on that I haven't heard about?" Oh. My. Goodness. So bear with me because this site will be on hold for quite some time while I get that all sorted.

In the meantime, some literary people, and an 'early adopting' kind of blogger deserve serious gold stars:

Lisa Dempster, director of the 2013 Melbourne Writers Festival, for an expansive and exciting programme. I thoroughly enjoyed the London Review of Books sessions I attended, as well as taking in a thought provoking session with music writer Simon Reynolds. And I could have gone to plenty more…!!!!


The Sydney Review of Books – subscribe to their newsletter now, if you haven't already.  Between the freebies at LARB, LRB and SRB (as well as the Literary Saloon at the Complete Review) you will have a lot of things covered book review -wise.

Alexis Wright and Giramondo, for another stellar outing with The Swan Book – I have mentioned this briefly in a post I've written for Readmill, the ebook app. The ABR review carries more information than I can put down right now and you can find it here.

And something to look forward to, and buy: new books from Richard Flanagan and Thomas Pynchon.

Finally, someone I began my blogging days reading has started posting again. This is always a good thing. Welcome back, Dervala Hanley.

Don't be good while I'm away, HAVE FUN. I will work hard, and I will have fun and think of you all.

And yes, I will keep scrapbooking at the little place, because it's faster. 
Faster is my son's favourite word. Say no more.

Posted in Australia - Writing, Books, Family stunts, Festivals and awards, Thinking out loud, through the streets of your town | Leave a comment

Launch for Lucy Todd next week – Whitmore Press

Whitmore Press is delighted to announce that Lucy Todd’s debut poetry collection, Listening to the Mopokes Go, will be launched in Melbourne on 16th August. The details:

The Alderman (upstairs)
134 Lygon St, Brunswick East
Friday 16th August, from 6.30pm
Launch by Cassandra Atherton – poet, novelist, critic and academic.

Lucy Todd cover 800px

Lucy was the winner of the 2012 Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize.  All welcome.

Posted in Poetry, Publishing, through the streets of your town | Leave a comment

“the lights begin to twinkle from the rocks…”

"To those claiming "Twitter" (singular mass) is "this" or "that" (insert blanket generalisation), some perspective." (Simon Sellars @ballardian on Twitter.)

Tweetping offers visualisation of global Twitter usage in real time.

Make sure you have a look next time you're awake in the dead of the night. The world is twittering away while we (do not) sleep.   

Posted in digital projects, Social media, Web/Tech | Leave a comment

will you please be quiet…

Now if I wanted to attend Texts In The City at the Wheeler Centre, as a Books 101 kind of thing, I guess I would. And usually I don't want to.
But even without viewing them, and given that these sessions would be pitched to Year 12 students, I still think it's timely to recommend Alison Croggon talking about Wuthering Heights, and Josephine Rowe discussing Ray Carver's stories.


Posted in Out and about, Readings, short fiction | Leave a comment

a pile of stuff #34

A seed library, in Ohio. (No returns, obviously.) Via the Melville House blog.

Also from Melville House, here is a fine slide show of some old New York bookshops. The first Scribner's was astonishing, was it not?

This compelling eulogy by Joanna Murray-Smith for her mother Nita was published on the Overland website in early July.

At Cordite, Geoff Page reviews Chris Wallace-Crabbe's New and Selected Poems.

Expanding the canon after death doesn't just happen in writing. Scholars and performers have revived some sonatas Beethoven wrote when he was 12, and 20, and added them to the 'iconic' 32. What this achieves, I do not like to guess. 

Posted in bookselling, Libraries matter, Music - history, reviews, Newsy stuff, Obituary, Poetry | Leave a comment

Bushmiller and Beckett letters going to auction

The cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller's letters were recently catalogued in preparation for auction and The American Reader has published several letters between Bushmiller and Samuel Beckett:

Beckett and Bushmiller were born within nine months of each other (Bushmiller in 1905, Beckett in 1906) but their material circumstances couldn’t have been more different at the time these letters were written. Bushmiller was at the top of his profession. He had been a successful syndicated cartoonist for almost thirty years by 1952. Nancy appeared in about 500 US papers and appeared in translation in many others worldwide. Circulation of the strip was therefore somewhere around 40 million people.

Beckett, it is assumed, read Nancy in English in the Paris-based international edition of the New York Herald Tribune. By 1952, Beckett had published a study of Proust, a collection of short stories, a volume of poems, one novel in English and two in French. Although the French novels Molloy and Malone Dies were beginning to receive attention from the Paris literati, none of the books had sold much. Beckett eked out a living as a translator of Mexican poetry. No play of his had yet been produced, although Waiting for Godot would receive its world premiere in January of 1953. Significantly, it is then that Beckett’s correspondence with Bushmiller breaks off.

Read More

(Via Maud Newton on Twitter.)

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a pile of stuff #33

City Lights Books has been around for 60 years. Party On!!

Jeannette Winterson will get a shot at a cover version of The Winter's Tale. And Anne Tyler will follow up with her rendition of The Taming Of The Shrew.

I’m not the sort of person who wishes things had stayed as they were. I like Tumblr and Twitter, etc., etc., and I’m interested to see what comes next. But I do feel a little wistful from time to time for the newness of the experience of typing some stream-of-consciousness thing like this — which is not at all what I was expecting to write when I opened up WordPress — and setting it loose into the world.

-Maud Newton, on what happens after blogging.

At Cordite, Jacinta Le Plastrier rereads Ariel
Here, Ron Silliman links to a few recordings of Sylvia reading from it.

And it's GOODBYE GOOGLE READER. I am writing this links post with the help of the nifty Newsblur, which allows me to save stories in the reader. Pretty damn fine feature. I decided it was nice enough to pay a little money to use Newsblur properly, and so far they are managing just fine with all the refugees from Google.

Posted in Newsy stuff, Poetry, Web/Tech, Writing - curiosities | Leave a comment

Scoop: someone who doesn’t like The Flamethrowers

'Kushner's gifts as a poet war with the more practical intentions of the novelist – like perfectly rendered pearls in a life-size portrait, her specificity draws the eye too close and muddles the focus on the whole.

The most successfully realised section takes place in Italy, at the family home of Reno's aristocratic boyfriend, Sandro, son of Valera. Here, Kushner is all novelist, portraying the rich with a cruel rapture that bears comparison with Alan Hollinghurst's. Suddenly, her characters breathe. Even the inscrutable Reno enjoys a moment of primal conquest. Up in their bedroom, as Sandro shoos a moth out of the window, she thinks, "He didn't care about moths. He did it for me. I was the only American girl here, I reminded myself as he chased it around the room in his underwear. The only one."'

Talitha Stevenson has not enjoyed Rachel Kushner's new book. Unlike James Wood, and a host of other fans.
Well, well. We shall see. I have The Flamethrowers to read (and encouraged another potential reader at the point of sale! doesn't happen to me often!) and I'm not going to be put off that easily.

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Calvino’s letters reviewed

The letters of Italo Calvino have recently been published in a translation by Martin McLaughlin,  and were reviewed in The Guardian a couple of weeks ago:

The bulk of the correspondence in this collection concerns Calvino's tireless work on behalf of Einaudi and his struggle to succeed as a writer in post-fascist Italy. Along the way are letters sent to fellow Italian writers (Alberto Moravia, Natalia Ginzburg, Elsa Morante) in support of abortion and workers rights, as well as bulletins dispatched from 50s New York and Communist Cuba (where Calvino met Che Guevara). The correspondence is distinguished by its sly philosophic humour and mandarin diversity of interests, ranging from the chivalric romances of Charlemagne to French structuralist theory.

Above all, the letters illuminate the politics of book publishing in Italy after the overthrow of Mussolini. Calvino's first novel, The Path to the Nest of Spiders (1947), was born directly out of his experience as a partisan during Italy's anti-fascist resistance. It was influenced by Ernest Hemingway and Italy's "news-reel" school of realism, which aimed for an unpolished immediacy of the street. Hemingway served as an antidote to fascist rhetoric and obfuscation. Yet Calvino's writing was already marked by a fabulous gothic undertow, with allusions to medieval artists such as Hieronymus Bosch and Albrecht Atldorfer. In his letters, he styles himself both "the fabulist Calvino" and "the realist Calvino": which was the real one?

The novelist and poet Cesare Pavese, Einaudi's managing editor, was among the first to detect the virtuoso fable-maker in Calvino. The 24-year-old was a "squirrel with a quill", Pavese said, whose fiction read like a "folk tale from the forests".

Read more…


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