Beyond the story

Janelle McCulloch wrote the book, Beyond the rock: the life of Joan Lindsay and the mystery of Picnic at Hanging Rock. While it is a biography about the life of Joan Lindsay, it is also an inquiry into the writing of Joan’s mysterious novel Picnic at hanging rock.

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I invited Janelle to be a guest speaker at our library and she gave an energetic and riveting talk about this topic to an audience of spellbound people. From the moment she entered the room, Janelle was talking, and she didn’t pause for an hour and probably could have continued. People were slow to leave, wanting more.

As a perennial mystery embedded in Australian culture, the mystery behind the story of Picnic at Hanging Rock, tantalizes us with the need to be solved. In Joan’s original unpublished forward to the novel:

            “…the story is entirely true.”

Janelle teased us who were in the room with the possibility of another book that does indeed reveal the truth. Her journalistic nose having uncovered parts of the story that, according to people who lived and live around Hanging Rock, “everyone knew”. We all responded with enthusiastic urging that she must indeed write it. How often does that happen to authors who are not J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, or George R. R. Martin?

The process of journalistic research is of great interest to me, as I love doing that myself. I know the addiction of a good detective hunt. Genealogists know this well. Janelle prompted us to get to work as:

            “Everyone has a story that needs to be told.

So feeling enthused and having procrastinated long enough about getting my own family story curated, I started. I had already created a storyboard of sorts using PowerPoint. So I purchased a large sketchbook and a scrapbooking kit. I set up a space where I have all the photos nearby in boxes and photo albums and on file.

It is apparent from the moment I begin where the gaps are, so many photos missing. Do they even exist? Does someone have the ones I need? I phoned my husbands aunt not remembering how old she must be. We had a nice conversation and she agreed to look to see what she had. Yesterday I received an envelope with some gorgeous old photos of my mother-in-law and her sister, and their mother, and my husband’s parents. And there was an image of my husband’s late eldest brother as a 3 year old. His family didn’t have photos of themselves or their children; unlike my own father who was a bit of a photography geek.

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As thrilled, as I am to receive these photos, there are still gaps. I have not found a photo of my husband’s maternal grandfather – Arthur William Duncalfe. Using the library member’s subscription to Ancestry, I have found the certificates online that give the details of his birth and death, but no photos. I have even located a passport photo of his father Arthur Gregory Duncalfe as he emigrated from the USA to Australia.

So as I restock the glue sticks and refill the printer ink, the hunt continues.

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Six months of library events

I have been assessing and indexing my blog lately and I realised I had not posted anything for the first six months of this year; and so I looked at my work record and found I was just a little bit busy with organising events at the library.

Authors

Here is the incomplete list:

  1. Craig Smith – Wednesday 25 January – Summer Reading Club Finale
  2. Thomas Hugh – Sunday 29 January – Live Music Sunday
  3. Fiona Wood – Saturday 31 January – Author Talk – Cloudwish
  4. Cam Lee-Brown – Sunday 12 February – Live Music Sunday
  5. Kenny Chan & Tom Taylor – Saturday 18 February – Heroes & Villains
  6. Meryl Leppard– Sunday 26 February – Live Music Sunday
  7. Sheree Marris – Wednesday 15 March – Author Talk – Aquatic Science
  8. Nicky Johnston – Saturday 18 March – Book Launch – The Fix-It Man
  9. Shane Maloney – Saturday 8 April – Author Talk – crime fiction
  10. Matthew Fagan – Sunday 9 April – Live Music Sunday
  11. Australian Ballet – Monday 10 April – Dancing story – School Holiday Program
  12. Lego with Young Engineers – Thursday 13 April – School Holiday program
  13. Andrew Rule – Saturday 22 April – Author Talk – Journalism
  14. Adi Sappir – Sunday 23 April – Live Music Sunday
  15. Ruth Clare – Wednesday 26 April – Author Talk – Enemy
  16. Amadou Kalissa – Sunday 7 May – Live Music Sunday
  17. Jade O’Donahoo – Monday 8 May – Author Talk – Eat This My Friend
  18. My Emma with Lise Rodgers – Tuesday 9 May – Jane Austen Performance
  19. Wendy Mak – Saturday 20 May – Author Talk – The Capsule Wardrobe
  20. Mojo Pearls – Sunday 21 May – Live Music Sunday
  21. Alice Pung – Tuesday 23 May – Author Talk – Unpolished Gem
  22. Sydney Writers Festival – 26 May – 28 May – Live & Local live-streamed
  23. Dr Michael Carr Gregg – Saturday 3 June – Author Talk – The Princess Bitchface Syndrome
  24. Sean Dooley – Saturday 17 June – Author Talk – birds
  25. Clementine Ford – Saturday 1 July – Author Talk – Fight Like a Girl

Appreciating Hokusai

Japanese Art has always been a style I love. The design, composition, colours, graphic style, use of line, and deft touch is to be admired. Who can go past Hokusai?

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So not only did I jump at the chance to see the Hokusai exhibition at the NGV; I decided to invite an artist I know, Irene Crusca, to give a talk on the topic at the library where I work. The timing of this was intentionally aimed to be while the exhibition was still on, so that if people felt moved by what they heard, there was still time to go into the city to see the artworks up close.

Irene gave a thoughtful and well-prepared presentation easily filling the hour with commentary on the man and some of his works. She explained about the important contributions he made upon the international art world at that time.

Of course The Great Wave is an iconic image recognized by most. It is simply beautiful. At the exhibition I loved seeing Mt Fuji depicted in so many scenes. I love the waterfalls, and the little human figures everywhere going about their daily activities, sometimes humuorously.

The NGV did a fabulous job displaying many of his sketchbooks under glass protected from willing hands. Then on a screen digital images of his sketches appear in sequential arrays. Who would have the time to sit and admire them all?

I have invited Irene back next year to talk about her work as a portrait artist.

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Stories with music

What is it about stories that have music woven into the tale? We can’t actually hear or feel the music, but if we know the pieces mentioned this evokes a mood in harmony with the actual tune.

I hosted another Melbourne Writers Festival at my library and the author was Zoe Morrison who has written one novel Music and Freedom. I have read about a third of the book but had to return the library copy, as the reservation list is long. I was enjoying the tale, which has music at its heart; the main character is a concert pianist.

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Lee Kofman and Zoe Morrison at Frankston Library 2017

Listening to Zoe in conversation with a fellow author Lee Kofman I am keen to get hold of another copy and finish reading this book. Zoe gave further depth and context to the tale whetting the appetite of the people in the audience.

I have enjoyed other novels that contain music as a central theme: An equal music by Vikram Seth is one that comes to mind. There is another that I loved but the title and author elude me at the moment. I will do a search and see if I can locate it.

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P.S. So I searched and located the book Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy. I have opened the cover and fallen into the magical tale once again.

Silent Reading Party

Is that an oxymoron? How can you ‘party’ when you are reading silently? Well I guess that is the hook.

“We were all going to be at home alone reading; why not do it together?”

It is a concept that took off in the US and attributed to Daniel Handler (also known as Lemony Snicket). Although here Christopher Frizzelle takes credit for the idea. I don’t really care who came up with the idea; it is ‘novel’ and gaining popularity in today’s noisy world and equally noisy libraries.

Several public libraries in Australia jumped on the bandwagon this month. Here Jeff O’Neal of Book Riot offers how to host a Silent Reading Party in 7 easy steps.

IMG_3320We held one at the library where I work. I tried to create a cosy setting for the people that came along. And there was wine! The whole concept was appreciated and enjoyed with requests to do it again. #glamblogweekly

 

Cookbooks

The package was waiting for me when I arrived home and I knew what it contained; two new cook books.

A home library was always part of my vision for my dream home, until I started work in a public library. Working with books every day changed this obsession. Realising the multitude of books in this world, and knowing I will never read them all humbled me. There are few books that I want to reread. There are some exceptions, but not many.

Cook books I am obsessed with. Like many people I am drawn to them and love them. You only have to visit 641.5 in the non-fiction collection in any public library to know that this is a shared obsession. We all love to eat delicious food and many of us like to prepare delicious food. Many of us enjoy looking at the beautiful photographs representing the recipes.

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So I buy cookbooks now and then. The Plant Power Way by Rich Roll and Julie Piatt I had searched for in bookshops since it was first published and I could not find it anywhere in and around Melbourne. So in desperation I ordered it online when they released the new book This Cheese is Nuts by Julie Piatt. I found a local supplier (not a bookshop) at The New Normal Project and finally the books are added to my home library of cookbooks.

Now all I have to do is start trying the recipes.

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Row X

We stood at the back of the hall clutching our tickets for Row X dismayed that the rows stopped at Row V. There was no Row X. The group of us grew in numbers as we hailed the attention of an usher. Traipsing back out to the foyer we were reallocated tickets to the Balcony in Row OO.IMG_8860

This was our experience when we purchased tickets online for the Elvis Tribute Show with Jack Gatto at Melbourne Town Hall. As an information professional I know about the quick evaluation of reliable sources; and in my defense it was not me who found and selected the website. But I should have checked.

So an expensive and annoying lesson learned. But the show was good and Jack Gatto gave a great show with a powerful voice very like Elvis. The choir, backing singers, and big band were led by John St Peeters. Jack did the outfits justice and enthusiastically busted the moves. Not quite the decade for us, but you can’t deny those classic songs.

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Earlier we had enjoyed beer and a meal at Il Pom Iltalian at Federation Square, while young football fans, dressed in blue and white and yellow and brown, played kick-to-kick under yellow fluoro lights in the ‘square’.

After the show we walked back to our car parked in the gardens. The cold winter night air shimmering rainbow fog against the colourful lights of the Melbourne cityscape.

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