4 March 2008

Adelaide Writers' Week, Day 3

A marathon day today- 6 sessions!
Not only hot today (35 c) but even bigger crowds than yesterday. Breaks between sessions were characterised by people hurrying from one place to another (never in the right place for the next session) only to find that not all the lemmings are migrating! Some have just gone for coffee, or a "wee" break, leaving chairs "bagged" with hats, clothing and programmes.

It's hot, William McInnes arrives for his session (more later) attired in ancient red board shorts and thongs. (You can almost hear his father saying "Typical!")
If you don't get a seat in a tent, then outside in the shade is a possibility, but outside in the sun - well you know what Noel Coward said about mad dogs and Englishmen..

My purchase for the day : HEARTBREAK HILL by Thomas H. Cook - signed too.

Session #1 - Meet the author: Siri Hustvedt, chaired by John Coetzee

Biographical details here.
A very nervous Siri compared books to echo chambers, full of themes, and ideas, like halls of mirrors. John Coetzee asked Siri to comment on the after effects of 9/11 on the inner lives of New Yorkers. She said that many people have flashbacks well after a traumatic event particularly on anniversaries.
She is particularly interested by the idea of family secrets. There are many things that we don't know about that remain as secrets in previous generations. She likened a family secret to a bulging pocket - we know there is something there, but we don't know what it is.

Session #2 - Sports - a panel session with Gideon Haigh, John Harms, and William McInnes, chaired by Bernard Whimpress.
This was a very entertaining session - the chance to hear McInnes do impersonations should not be missed!

Panel conversation centred around the cultural importance of sport, and the real importance that sports writing be done well, but so much of what appears in the papers is mechanical. John Harms talked about the role that newspapers play, as stakeholders, in determining the quality of what is published. They build individual players up as super heroes, for the pure pleasure of knocking them down when they fall.
William McInnes talked about the social importance of cricket, and Gideon Haigh about sport as a forum for building of social capital in Australia.

Session #3 Book Launch - Peter Carey HIS ILLEGAL SELF

The guest "launcher" was Ian McEwan.
He spoke of how difficult it is to get into the mind of a child, and how well Peter Carey does it.
He too referred to James Wood's review and in the process of looking I found a useful collection of reviews. McEwan says Carey is a "writer of world rank at the top of his game."

Hearing McEwan speak here was a little compensation for the very disappointing cancellation of the "public audience part" of the scheduled recording of the First Tuesday Book Club at the Adelaide ABC Studio tomorrow afternoon.

Session #4: Meet the Author: Thomas H. Cook

My crime fiction treat for the day. I heard Cook speak the other day on a panel, and I have read a number of his novels including THE CHATHAM SCHOOL AFFAIR, RED LEAVES and THE MURMUR OF STONES.

Cook sees himself as writing in the William Faulkner tradition. He writes about ordinary people whose lives spiral down to black.

Session #5 - Double Exposure - a panel session

3 authors: Georgia Blain, Patrick McGrath, and Melina Marchetta have all had books turned into films, and what a long and agonising process it seems to have been. Georgia Blain tried to distance herself from the process as much as possible. Patrick McGarth revelled in it, and Melina Marchetta, who wrote LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI, got drawn into it despite feeling that she was not qualified to write film script. It seems that anywhere 6-10 years is not uncommon for a film to go from options to actual filming.

Session #6 - Meet the Author - Richard Holmes

Energy very definitely waning at this stage.
Holmes is a very successful historian who specialises in things military. We went mainly because husband Bob has two of his books, but he was an interesting speaker, and sparked a lot of questions from the audience.

Tomorrow I'm having a rest day!
The temperatures for the rest of the week will be 35-37 c, so I'm staying home, although on Friday I will go in to hear Gabrielle Lord, Marshall Browne, and Garry Disher.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to an International Women's Day breakfast to hear Margaret Pomeranz speak.

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