National Library Week 2015

National Library Week has been a busy week for me where I have seen months of planning come to fruition. Our author event was a success with a lovely discussion around the topic of this year’s theme ‘imagine’.

Seven authors were asked questions posed by poet Andrea Louise Thomas. These authors were a diverse group and this added richness to the discussion. The authors were: Garry Disher; Greg Hill; Rose Inserra; Judy Taylor; Brita Lee; Leigh Van der Horst; and Susan Berg.

Andrea Louise Thomas expertly led the conversation asking questions tailored to suit each author’s unique approach. Andrea is a poet, arts editor of Mint magazine, proof reader, and poetry slam finalist. So a very well qualified person to lead this discussion.

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Susan Berg offered a heroic and painful true story about losing her whole family in a boating accident in which she was the only survivor. The tragedy many years past, her story is about how her life has unfolded since that awful day.

Leigh Van der Horst is a new author with a book about the grief following her mother’s death. A common theme by coincidence, but it was interesting to hear about different approaches to writing about this deeply life-changing experience. The resulting published manuscripts also show this different approach to a similar life experience.

Garry Disher is a credible writer of crime fiction and his substantial body of successful works shone through in his answers that provided insight, generosity, and the humble spirit of a true craftsman.

Judy Taylor is new to the writing scene and her self-published diary of grief after her mother’s death is raw and personal. She gave advice based on her experience of the self-publishing process.

Greg Hill is a ghostwriter who brings life to other people’s true stories. He spoke with knowledge and depth about the writing process.

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Brita Lee writes science fiction. The Panopticon Deception is the first published of a trilogy. Her passion and excitement for writing was obvious as she described how she lets the story reveal itself to her as she writes.

Rose Inserra writes children’s non-fiction and her latest non-fiction publication is about dreams. As a teacher of the writing craft she is well qualified to talk about the topic. She is warm, intelligent, and an engaging speaker.

The audience seemed happy and satisfied with one lady telling me, “I go to these types of events all the time, and this was the best one ever.” Sigh!

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Book Club

Finally I am in a Book Club and have attended my first meeting this week. The book we read and discussed was Wicked but virtuous by Mirka Mora. It is an autobiography of the Melbourne artist. As someone who formally studied art and design in Melbourne I was embarrassed to admit not knowing of either her or her work. Having said that I discovered she is probably as good an artist as she is a writer, and that is “poor” in my opinion. The book was more of a memoir in the style of an unedited stream of consciousness. It lacked detail, information, and insight into her life and relationships. It was pretentious and parasitic in the way she loved to name-drop.

 

I know of and really admire the work of other great Australian female artists such as Margaret Olley, Margaret Preston, Stella Bowen and Grace Cossington Smith. These were artists of substantial talent and contribution. Stravinsky’s lunch written by Drusilla Modjeska is a rich and brilliant exploration of the art, life and times of Stella Bowen and Grace Cossington Smith set alongside the happenings of Australian society at the time. It is a book I wholeheartedly recommend.

 

The Book Club offers me a chance to broaden my reading outside my habitual tendencies. It also is a privilege to share our varied responses to literature and to hear the opinions and thoughts of others. It gives depth to my own limited ideas and notions. The things known about a topic beyond what is written in the book adds more to the story and discussion. Others in the group knew of Mirka Mora and her art and shared their tales. It served to enrich the experience and opened us all to more of Melbourne’s short history.

 

Meanwhile at work our Book Club students competed in the annual Readers’ Cup Challenge. I helped judge the quiz where the teams answered questions about the four books they had read: What I was by Meg Rosoff; The red necklace by Sally Gardner; Town by James Roy; and One whole and perfect day by Judith Clarke.

 

The girls had decorated their tables, responded to creative tasks by making colourful masks, and wedding dresses, and they had dressed up for the occasion. It was a fun activity and The Jane Austen Book Club won by a slim margin.