Recently in Readings Category

Garry Disher

I've read nine novels by Garry Disher over the past two years. I haven't checked but I'd feel safe in saying that's the most by any one author over that time period. I had been unable to get to hear him speak a few times over the past year - some family function or other had always intervened. So I was happy to finally get the chance to attend the local library last week where he was speaking.

Garry Disher has had a varied writing career, and as he pointed out, is probably one of the few Australian writers to make a living purely from writing novels - he's right, there can't be a lot of them. He has achieved this enviable (?) position as a result of being capable of writing across a number of genres and by being able to stick to his craft. Being able to write effectively using character, dialog and plot to create enjoyable story-driven novels with a distinct sense of place probably doesn't hurt either. After a career as an academic, and as a teacher of creative writing Disher bit the bullet some 15 years ago and threw his lot into full-time writing. In that period he has produced six Wyatt novels, three featuring Inspector Challis, six young adult books, and three novels that don't fit any specific genre definition, one of which (The Sunken Road) was submitted for the Booker Prize by his publisher. Added to this are two volumes of short stories which he edited, two volumes of his own stories, reviews, a children's picture book, history text books, critical articles and, well, you get the picture. He's prolific.

Garry Disher reminds me of nothing less than the main character of his recent successful crime series, Inspector Hal Challis. I'd reckon he'd deny it, but there's enough there for a decent comparison to be made: age, demeanour and physical location being just some of them. He started his talk in slightly nervous fashion, as if he didn't do this sort of thing terribly often, but warmed to his task as the night progressed. It came out later that while he had done an author tour of Germany (where his Wyatt novels are very popular) and was scheduled to tour the UK in about 18 months, he had never journeyed around Australia talking about his work - it appeared he only made local appearances whenever a new novel was due out. That's a pity.

I asked him if he felt that his readers were divided between his Wyatt and his Challis novels, or whether he'd noticed a cross-over between the two. Oddly enough, he said that he doesn't get a lot of feedback from his readers and so wasn't aware of there being any problems in that area. Only later did I wonder about the reasons for that. Crime fiction seems to be where he's putting the bulk of his energies at present. He still likes writing for young adults as it allows him to follow a very different process. His crime novels need to be planned in very fine detail ahead of the writing, else he tends to write himself into plot corners. He's currently working on the final edits of the fourth Hal Challis book, which have interrupted his seventh Wyatt novel. I'm looking forward to both of them.

Tom Keneally

Tom Keneally will be appearing at Readings Books & Music, 701 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, at 6:30pm, Tuesday 11th October. He will be reading from his latest book The Commonwealth of Thieves and answering questions from the audience. This is my local bookshop so I'll be making every effort to get along.

Upcoming Sydney Literary Talks

Tuesday 16 August
Marea Stenmark talks about the surprising joys of illness that inspired her book This is Living! - The Joys of Illness. Find out how you can encourage, cheer and comfort people with a life threatening illness and add value to the role of the carer. Booking essential. Time: 10:30am-12:00pm Aug 16 Cost: $5 Venue: Crows Nest Centre, 2 Ernest Place, Crows Nest Bookings: Crows Nest Community Centre (02) 9439 5122 Jeffrey Watson is a journalist and TV reporter with a passion for aviation. He introduces his new book Killer Caldwell: Australia's Greatest Fighter Pilot based on the life of WWII pilot Clive 'Killer' Caldwell. Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm Aug 16 Cost: Free Venue: Stanton Library, 239 Miller Street, North Sydney Enquiries: Stanton Library 02 9936 8400 Sassy protagonist, detective Phryne Fisher, has starred in 15 novels in Kerry Greenwood's popular crime series set in 1920s Melbourne. Her other girl, super-sleuth Corinna Chapman, stars in two thrillers (Earthly delights and Heavenly pleasures). Greenwood chats about keeping her super characters alive in her popular detective series. Time: 5:30pm-6:30pm Aug 16 Cost: $16.50/$11 members Venue: The Galleries, State Library of NSW, Macquarie Street, Sydney Bookings: State Library of NSW (02) 9273 1770

Wednesday 17 August
Trapped in the besieged compound of the UN in Indonesia at the end of the Suharto reign; Foreign Correspondent Richard Lloyd Parry recounts these harrowing experiences in his book In The Time of Madness. Time: 6:00pm-8:00pm Aug 17 Cost: $20/$10 Members/$5 Assoc./$10 conc. Venue: Glover Cottages, 124 Kent St, Sydney Enquiries: Aust. Institute of International Affairs 02 9247
Award-winning author, Kate Grenville, discusses her latest book The Secret River, about a man - no better and no worse than most - who finds himself becoming a killer. Kate Grenville won the prestigious Orange Prize for her earlier novel, The Idea of Perfection, in 2002. Time: 7:00pm Aug 17 Cost: $7.70 conc./$5.50 Venue: Mosman Library, 605 Military Rd, Mosman Bookings: Mosman Library 02 9978 4090

Thursday 18 August
Journey with Kate Llewellyn, Bunty Avieson and Marion Halligan as they explore travel writing with a difference. They have visited surprising places across various continents and their personal memoirs give a unique edge to travel writing, where readers become part of the journey. Time: 12:30pm-1:30pm Aug 18 Cost: $16.50, $11 Venue: Dixson Room, State Library of NSW, Macquarie Street, Sydney Bookings: State Library of NSW (02) 9273 1770
Matthew Reilly - Hell's Island 1.30pm - 2.30pm Sydney CBD - Pitt Street Mall, LGF - Imperial Arcade 168-174 Pitt Street Mall, Sydney , NSW 2000 Ph: 02 9235 1188 A Books Alive! event.

Friday 19 August
Andrew Gaze - The Andrew Gaze Story 12.30pm Sydney CBD - Pitt Street Mall, LGF - Imperial Arcade 168-174 Pitt Street Mall, Sydney , NSW 2000 Ph: 02 9235 1188

Wednesday 24 August
Jeffrey Watson talks about his new book, Killer Caldwell: Australia's Greatest Fighter Pilot, based on the life of Clive Caldwell, ace flyer during World War II. Time: 12:30pm-1:15pm Aug 24 Cost: Free Venue: Willoughby Civic Centre, 409 Victoria Av, Chatswood Bookings: Willoughby City Council 02 9777 7900

Thursday 25 August
Join a discussion on Australia's policies on immigration, asylum and the detention of refugees, their impacts on detainees and deportees and on us. Discussion led by Phil
Glendinning, director of the Edmund Rice Centre, and author of Deported to Danger. Time: 7:30pm-9:00pm Aug 25 Cost: $10/$5 unwaged Venue: Mosman Art Gallery & Community Centre, Cnr Myahgah Rd & Short St, (near Spit Junction), Mosman Bookings: North Shore Peace & Democracy (02) 9960 2523

Sunday 28 August
Carlotta, one of Australia's best-known entertainers, and her biographer Prue MacSween, author of Carlotta: I'm Not That Kind of Girl, join Rachel Kent, Senior Curator to explore the blurred boundary between reality and fiction in the interview
process. Time: 2:30pm-3:30pm Aug 28 Cost: $15/$10 members/$12 conc. Venue: Museum of Contemporary Art, 140 George Street, Sydney Bookings: Museum of Contemporary Art (02) 9245 2484

Monday 29 August
A crime fiction double header. Jane Goodall discusses her new Detective Briony Williams
thriller The Visitor while screenwriter John Misto discusses his first crime novel The Devil's Companions. Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm Aug 29 Cost: Free Venue: Lvl 3 Ashfield Civic Ctre, Ashfield Library, 260 Liverpool Rd, Ashfield Bookings: Ashfield Library 02 9716 1810

Wednesday 31 August
Celebrity chef and author Bill Granger is known for his fresh ingredients and great desserts. He talks about his career and introduces his latest book Simply Bill. Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm Aug 31 Cost: Free Venue: Stanton Library, 239 Miller Street, North Sydney Enquiries: Stanton Library 02 9936 8400

[Details of other events can be found at Sydney Talks.]

Upcoming Melbourne Literary Talks

Tuesday 9 August
Jan Bearnes, Keith Miller's niece, will launch Roland Perry's book Miller's Luck, a compelling and intimate account of the fortunate life of Australia's most dynamic and charismatic sporting hero. Readings, 701 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, 6:30pm. Writers in Focus: Annamarie Jagose and Delia Falconer Join two of our finest literary novelists as they read from and discuss their latest novels. Jagose's work has been described as "poised and elegant", Falconer's as "attaining lyric compression while offering the most fantastical richness". Time: 6.30-8pm (Refreshments from 6pm) Venue: Village Roadshow Theatrette, Entry 3, La Trobe St Bookings: 8664 7016 Cost: $12/$10

Tuesday 16 August
Family Histories Historically Speaking is a series of forums presented by the History Council of Victoria. In this session, Susan Aykut from Monash University's Institute for Public History, convenes a panel to respond to a recent Australian Story on ABC TV (Bridge over Myall Creek). The panel will examine themes of family history and reconciliation, and the challenge facing historians who work on the histories of their own
families. Time: Tuesday 16 August, 6-7.30pm Venue: Ian Potter Seminar Room, Entry 1, Swanston Street Bookings: 8664 7261 Free

Thursday 18 August
Dr Sue Yell, Head of Communications and Writing from the University of Monash will launch David Holmes' book Communication Theory. Readings, 309 Lygon Street, Carlton, 6:30pm.

Wednesday 24 August
Diane Bell will launch her latest book Evil: A Novel. Controversial in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, she is both a brilliant anthropologist and writer of rich, evocative prose. Readings, 309 Lygon Street, Carlton, 6:30pm.

Thursday 25 August
Brenda Niall, Australia's most awarded biographer, will launch her new book: Judy Cassab: A Portrait, the extraordinary story of a woman who overcame living in the
shadow of the holocaust to become one of Australia's most celebrated artists. Readings, 701 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, 6:30pm.

Upcoming Sydney Literary Talks

Tuesday 2 August
Sue Howard introduces, Leaning Towards Pisa: An Italian Love Story, which describes her experience of deciding on impulse to quit her job for good and strike out afresh. It is a big decision. There are family, children and a relationship to consider, but the lure of the great unknown proves too strong. Time: 12:30pm-1:15pm Aug 02 Cost: Free Venue: Willoughby Civic Centre, 409 Victoria Av, Chatswood Bookings: Willoughby City Council 02 9777 7900
Gary Nash speaks about his autobiography The Tarasov Saga: From Russia, through China to Australia, which was chosen by the Australian Bookseller and Publisher magazine as one of the top non-fiction books of 2002. Time: 6:30pm-8:00pm Aug 02 Cost: $7/$5 members & conc. Venue: NSW Writers' Centre, Rozelle Hospital Grounds, Rozelle Bookings: Soirees Litteraires, NSW Writers Centre (02) 9518 4615

Monday 8 August
Literary Lunch: Allison DuBois Allison DuBois is a medium and profiler who has helped solve numerous crimes and is the inspiration behind the television series "Medium". She talks about her life experiences and her latest book Don't Kiss Them Goodbye. Time: 12:30pm-2:15pm Aug 08 Cost: $68 incl. lunch Venue: Sofitel Wentworth Hotel,
Elizabeth St, Sydney Bookings: Dymocks & Sydney Morning Herald 02 9449 4366
Australian author Robert Drewe won international acclaim for his book The Shark Net. He introduces his new book Grace. Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm Aug 08 Cost: Free Venue: Stanton Library, 239 Miller Street, North Sydney Enquiries: Stanton Library 02 9936 8400

Tuesday 9 August
Robert Drewe talks to Bulletin Editor, Kathy Bail, about his new novel Grace - part
action thriller, part road movie - based on the experiences of a young women who flees her inner-city life for the remote wilderness. Time: 6:30pm Aug 09 Cost: $9/$6 members Venue: Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe Bookings: Gleebooks 02 9660 2333

Wednesday 10 August
Hsu-Ming Teo talks about her novel Behind the Moon, based on the experiences of three friends who come together for an explosive dinner which exposes the frailty and strengths of their relationships. Time: 6:00pm Aug 10 Cost: $9/$6 members Venue: Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe Bookings: Gleebooks 02 9660 2333

Thursday 11 August
Actor William McInnes, Blue Heelers & Sea Change discusses his new book A Man's Got to Have a Hobby. He writes with humour, affection and warmth about growing up in the 60's and 70's and the characters who contributed to his experiences. Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm Aug 11 Cost: Free Venue: Lvl 3 Ashfield Civic Ctre, Ashfield Library, 260 Liverpool Rd, Ashfield Bookings: Ashfield Library 02 9716 1810
Human rights lawyer, author and broadcaster Geoffrey Robertson QC talks about his latest book The Tyrannicide Brief, based on the story of the man who sent Charles I to the scaffold. Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm Aug 11 Cost: Free Venue: Hutley Hall, North Sydney Council, 200 Miller Street, North Sydney Enquiries: Stanton Library 02 9936 8400

Sunday 14 August
Sydney PEN members have recently returned from China, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Krygystan. Join them as they report back on their travels. Time: 4:00pm Aug 14 Cost: By donation Venue: Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe Bookings: Gleebooks 02 9514 2738

Upcoming Melbourne Literary Talks

Monday July 18
Neil Gaiman will be appearing at the State Library of Victoria. This event is now booked out.

Thursday July 21
Award-winning journalist and broadcaster, Jill Singer, will talk about her new book Immaculate Conceptions: Thoughts on Breeding, Babies and Boundaries.
6:30pm, free. Readings, 309 Lygon St., Carlton.

Thursday July 28
Deakin University Psychoanalytic Studies present Readings in Psychoanalysis. Join us
for the launch of Eli Zaretsky's Secrets of the Soul: A Social and Cultural History. 6:30pm, free. Readings, 309 Lygon St., Carlton.

Saturday July 30
John Long will talk about his amazing trips to search for fossils, as described in The Big Picture Book, accompanied by illustrator Brian Choo. 10:30pm (? doesn't look right but that's what's on the website), free. Readings, 309 Lygon St., Carlton.

Sunday July 31
An afternoon of songs, readings and spoken word performance, presented by literary broadcaster and singer/songwriter James Griffin and his band The Shadow Gang. Special guests include authors Shane Maloney, Carmel Bird, Julian Burnside and cellist Emma Ayres. Enquires/ Bookings: 9662 9966. 2:30pm-5:00pm, $10 fortyfivedownstairs 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Upcoming Sydney Writers' Events

Thursday 21 July
Author Paul Ham and Kokoda hero Major General Paul Cullen talk to Andrea Stretton about Paul's book Kokoda : the Definitive Account, which tells the story of the infamous Kokoda Track campaign from both sides of the conflict. Time: 6:30pm-8:00pm Jul 21 Cost: $10 (incl.a glass of champagne) Venue: Woollahra Council, 536 New South Head Rd, Double Bay

Friday 22 July
Author James Valentine is speaking at the NSW Writers' Centre dinner to celebrate their first Writing for Children and Young Adults Day. James is also a broadcaster on ABC Radio and was previously a member of the Australian band The Models. Time: 7:00pm Jul 22 Cost: $66/$77 non-members Venue: Hughenden Hotel, 14 Queen St,, Woollahra

Saturday 23 July
Writing for Children & Young Adults Day If you are interested in writing for this market, or you're a teacher or parent, or indeed a student who loves reading, come along and hear the specialists in the field talk about these popular genres. Guests include well-known writers, publishers, magazine editors, reviewers and a comic book producer. Time: 10:00am-5:00pm Jul 23 Cost: $20/$25 non-members/$15 conc. Venue: Rozelle Hospital Grounds, NSW Writers Ctr Bldg, Balmain Rd entrance

Tuesday 26 July
Kate Grenville introduces her new book The Secret River. Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm Jul 26 Cost: Free Venue: Council Chambers, North Sydney Council, 200 Miller Street, North Sydney

Thursday 28 July
John Newcombe won Wimbledon three times and the US and Australian Open twice each. He introduces his book No-one's Indestructible, the story of his courageous recovery from a potentially fatal stroke. Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm Jul 28 Cost: Free Venue: Council Chambers, North Sydney Council, 200 Miller Street, North Sydney

Friday 29 July
Peter Rodgers is a former Australian Ambassador to Israel whose recent book Herzl's Nightmare - One Land, Two People explores the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is also a prize-winning former Jakarta correspondent for "The Sydney Morning Herald". Time: 12:30pm-2:00pm Jul 29 Cost: Free Venue: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney
Emily Rodda knows what children want to read, having won the Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year award five times. Hear her discuss the long-awaited series two of the Fairy Realm. Time: 4:00pm-5:00pm Jul 29 Cost: Free Venue: Mosman Library, 605 Military Rd, Mosman

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Neil Gaiman

In town as Guest-of-Honor for the science fiction convention Continuum, Neil Gaiman will also be appearing at the State Library of Victoria on Monday July 18th, 6:30-8pm. Entrance fees are $10/$5 concession and bookings are essential: ring 8664 7014 or email to Actually, Melbourne isn't the only place that Neil Gaiman will be appearing. You can read the full schedule on his weblog. There he reports that he'll be signing in Canberra, Sydney, and Brisbane - on successive days. Hope he's got time to eat in there somewhere.

Shirley Hazzard

Back in town for the Miles Franklin awards next week (gotta get my skates on to finish
the books in time) Gleebooks, is presenting Shirley Hazzard, winner of the 2004 award for The Great Fire, on Thursday 16th June at 7pm in the York Theatre, Seymour Centre, Sydney. Tickets are $12.00 if you are a Sydney Writers' Festival newsletter member. No idea what the price is if you are not. Probably not allowed in I guess. To book: phone the Seymour Centre: 9351 7940 and quote "Sydney Writers' Festival", that should do it.

Gideon Haigh

On Wednesday night I went out in the threatening rain (the more the merrier in this drought) to hear Gideon Haigh give a talk at the Hawthorn Library. I thought the room might have been sparsely populated but I was delighted to see that something close to 50 people turned up to hear him talk and answer questions. (The photo included on this website doesn't do
Haigh justice as it shows him with a vague sneer. Surely they had a better photo
than that to use.)

Anyway, Haigh is a writer and freelance journalist who is best known for this cricket books Big Ship: Warwick Armstrong and the Making of Modern Cricket, Mystery Spinner: The Story of Jack Iverson, and his recent collection Game for Anything. What is not usually known by his readers is that he started out as a business journalist working on "The Age" and "The Australian", before deciding in the mid-1990s that he just didn't like going to work any more and chucked in the life of an employed journalist for that of a freelance writer. He didn't forget his business roots however, and later produced Fat Cats: The Cult of the CEO, and Quarterly Essay 10: Bad Company.

Writing non-fiction about two topics might seem a little limited but, as Haigh puts it: "I don't have many ideas I've just written books about all of them. Which struck me as a pretty good description of any dedicated writer's work -- finding the topics that interest them and writing what they know. There are rich veins to be mined in each of the topics Haigh has chosen.

But it was cricket that people came to hear him talk about: the strange encounters with Jack Iverson's daughter, and with the man who argued with Iverson on the morning of the day he committed suicide. For such a dry subject as research he was able to see the light side of it -- the characters you meet and the places you visit -- amongst the long hours stuck in front of a micro-film projector. He spoke engagingly about this and I detected even in him a sense that he was amazed at how interesting it could actually be.

Haigh has lately been appearing as a guest on one of John Faine's programs on ABC Radio here in Melbourne and told of his first appearance there. Faine introduced him
as a writer and ex-journalist to which, after the program, Haigh took exception. He didn't see the distinction between being a journalist and a writer, he was both. Faine countered with: "but journalists don't write books." Well, Faine might not but this journalist certainly does.

Gideon Haigh came across as an interesting, informed, and amusing speaker. He engaged the audience well and they responded to him during the 30 minute question time. One referred to herself as a "cricket tragic", to which he replied that there was nothing tragic about cricket. With just that one line he had his audience won over. I only have Haigh's biography of Warwick Armstrong and the Quarterly Essay on my shelves at present. I aim to recify that very soon.

Geraldine Brooks in Conversation

Geraldine Brooks will be in conversation with Jason Steger at the Reader's Feast Bookstore, Swanston Street, Melbourne, Tuesday 19th April at 6:30pm.

Bookings essential to all events: Tel 03 9662 4699 or

You will remember Brooks as the author of Year of Wonders, and the new novel March which I've mentioned here a couple of times recently. I get the feeling that this might be one of the big Australian books of the year, so get along if you can.

It prods me to catch up, yet again. I've never wanted to take up a speed reading course because I like to savour the words rather than just rushing through. But there are just so many books demanding to be read. Even the Australian ones. Ah well, such is life.

Don Watson

What: "The Human Rights activist, QC and author of Wordwatching [Julian Burnside] will speak to the author of Death Sentence and Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words [Don Watson] about the way we use words."

Where: Readings Books, 185 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn (just down the street from Glenferrie Station). (Do I need to point out that this is a suburb of Melbourne? Probably not.)

When: 6:30pm, Thursday, 3rd March 2005.

To whet your appetite, Julian Burnside reviewed Watson's book Death Sentence in the Dec 2003/Jan 2004 issue of "Australian Book Review". Given this is just down the street from me, and I can drop in on the way home from work, I'll attempt to get along.

A full listing of upcoming reader/writer events at all Readings bookstores in Melbourne is available.

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