…and when I say ‘earlier’, I’m talking two years earlier. My short story ‘The Intern’, was written way back in 2008 and has finally found a home in The Lifted Brow. I know, I know. I wasn’t going to contribute to the Brow, since it felt somewhat incestuous submitting to a journal one interned at, but The Brow seemed the best match for this piece, so, um, yeah…?
Being antisocial pays off occasionally. I actually wrote something. Now whenever someone asks me, ‘So what have you been working on?’ I’ll be able to reply, ‘A second-generation Vietnamese Australian’s observations on the gentrification of Footscray.’
But I really should get back to work. I’ll be meeting with Laura Smith later this week to see if she’ll review something for me. I always feel bad about not paying enough attention to poetry in my journal reviews, but I feel underqualified when it comes to critiquing poetry. Hopefully Laura will be more attentive towards the poetry side of things.
I’ll also try to get onto that Ampersand review. Issue 2 has been been sitting on my shelf, looking forlorn from its continual rejection, when it really shouldn’t because it’s such a handsome-looking journal.
Does anyone recall last year’s 15 Minutes of Fame? Angela Meyer perched on a stool, interviewing timid-looking writers also perched on stools. Free wine tastings. Small room. Guy slumped in the pod on the other side of the glass wall, oblivious to the EWF happenings.
Well, this year’s first 15 Minutes is like last year’s 15 Minutes on steroids. Think imposing Wheeler Centre stage, bright lights, square armchairs. Think Estelle Tang with seductively husky radio voice, telling post-Catholic neurotic, Joel Magarey, to ‘suck it up’ on stage*. Think Meyer and Tang having a face-off, with Meyer later admiting that Tang’s 15 Minutes was funnier than hers. You missed out. Yeah, you did.
Miscellaneous Voices, an anthology of Australian blog writing, is Miscellaneous Press’ first title. Editor Karen Andrews and contributor Carla Del Vecchio represented the anthology; both discussed their blogs and why they loved blogging. In spite of the imperfections, blog posts are often written in the heat of the moment and thus have a ‘raw power or beauty about them’. Andrews tried to distill this in the anthology, choosing pieces that resonated with a coincidentally personal bent.
Reviews for Miscellaneous Voices were mostly positive. There was one reviewer who didn’t see the point of such a book, since they had already read five of their favourite pieces previously online, but Tang was quick to note that Voices would have been a great introduction to twenty-six other bloggers. Geordie Williamson’s review also came up. In response to ‘some pieces show signs of having been gussied up at the last moment for publication’, Andrews declared that the edits were similar to that of any other book.
Andee Jones, writer of the memoir Kissing Frogs, started her fifteen minutes with a tongue-in-cheek performance, establishing the tone for the rest of the evening. Her memoir details a mature woman’s experience with internet dating. A child of the sixties, she had never been on a date before, believed it to only happen on sitcoms. But she had hoped that one got braver as one got older, so she gave it a try. Jones comes across as sassy and self-reliant and her book seems less cynical than Michaela McGuire or Clementine Ford’s thoughts on internet dating.
Next up was Lucienne Noontil who wrote and illustrated Possum Tales. Storytelling for adults is not quite the same as it is for kids. Noontil deliberately adopted a patronising tone in her reading and was rewarded by silly interjections from Tang. Afterwards, the two spoke about the editing process, how every word has to count in a children’s book and how one has to avoid offending readers. For instance, Rusty the possum leaves home, but Noontil had to word it in such a way so that it didn’t sound like he was getting kicked out of home.
In the last quarter, Joel Magarey spoke about his book Exposure, which details his global odyssey. He had hoped to replicate a state of being he had experienced while living with a tribe in Papua New Guinea; he believed that his Western existence had a surplus of choice, leading to bewilderment and anxiety.
Magarey described the process of writing Exposure as psychotherapy: he had been through the pain during his travels but learning to understand it was like light. What he noted was that comedy equals tragedy plus time and was darkness transposed, something he would talk about further in his other EWF gig, Going to a Dark Place. Yes, 15 minutes is all about the spruiking, people**. Get over it.
*She did apologise profusely afterwards.
Update: Damnit, Jodie Kinnersley beat me to it. She’s already posted on 15 Minutes. THIS IS NOT A COMPETITION.
Some of you have enjoyed my mock review of Kill Your Darlings. Some of you are also probably wondering if I can actually write a serious review. I wonder too sometimes, especially since I haven’t reviewed anything since said mock review. But I can critique if I put my mind to it and I can prove it too. Estelle Tang asked me to write a review for Kill Your Darlings’ Killings blog, so I wrote one for Narrelle M. Harris’ The Opposite of Life. Check it out here.