Advertisement

KILLINGS, daily columns and blog —

Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading: Lisa Dempster, director of the Emerging Writers’ Festival

by Kill Your Darlings , May 26, 2011Leave a comment

The Emerging Writers’ Festival kicks off today (see Kill Your Darlings appearances here). We asked EWF director Lisa Dempster to give us her recommended reading list.

The role of a literary festival director is ironic in many ways: the closer the festival gets, the more time one spends talking about books and writers, yet the closer the festival gets, the less time one has to read. That said, I am highly lucky that outside of festival month, my job involves a lot of reading, as it’s a major part of my role to unearth and encourage all kinds of writers at all stages of their careers. What I read is not just limited to books, but covers a whole gamut of media – blogs, journalism, zines, magazines, film, even music. So I always have an enormous to-consume pile that never seems to get any smaller no matter how voraciously I attend to it. (What a great problem to have!)

With the festival upon me, I have extremely limited time for reading, and when I do get a second to myself I turn to reading books rather than things on screen. (That may have something to do with the weather – living in a freezing Coburg terrace, I spend my nights huddling under blankets!) I admit, at this time of year, whenever I do get a moment for books I turn to my comfort genre – travel writing.

I have been reading adventure travel books since I was a kid and I can really never get enough of it, daydreaming about where I might go next and losing myself in other people’s journeys. People often dismiss this genre and I agree there is plenty of dross. However,  there are also some amazing gems. My favourite travel books are Tracks (Robyn Davidson), In Turkey I am Beautiful (Brendan Shanahan), Congo Journey (Redmond O’Hanlon) and anything by Ryszard Kapuściński. I am also profoundly in love with Peter Carey’s travelogues, 30 Days in Sydney and Wrong about Japan.

I am pretty scattergun in my approach to reading; I often have several things on the go at once. The exception are big novels that just invite you to absorb them almost in one sitting, locking yourself in the house to read them across one weekend. Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom was the last book that called me to do that. But at the moment I’m trying to read mostly Australian books, because EWF authors are mostly local. Once the festival is done, I’m looking forward to diving into Anita Heiss’s Black Book Challenge, a great list that all Australians should be aware of.

I am a chronic re-reader and I often think about texts long after I’ve closed the covers. I especially return again and again to books that moved me when I was a teenager; I never seem to be as torn apart by reading now as I was when I was young, when it felt like my whole world could shatter and be rebuilt in the space of a single novel. But when I return to the books of my youth I get to capture a little bit of that feeling again. I don’t think I’ll ever stop reading Loaded (Christos Tsiolkas), Monkey Grip (Helen Garner), The Ground Beneath Her Feet (Salman Rushdie), Naïve.Super (Erlend Loe) and Looking for Alibrandi (Melina Marchetta).

People often ask me to recommend reading. At this time of the year I usually point them to the Writers page on the festival website. I pick writers for the festival because I think they have something interesting to say, so it’s a big, somewhat chaotic list of fascinating writers across all forms and genres – plenty to keep you entertained and informed over the coming winter months!




9781863957120

James Tierney

Dissonance and Tradition: Andrew Ford’s Earth Dances

Listening to music can be an all-encompassing experience, like being buoyed in a room comprised entirely of pitch, rhythm and harmony. There’s an architectural element too in written compositions, with notes building on one another in growing edifices of lines, curves and dots. The new Frank Gehry … Read more »

monroe

James Tierney

Survival and Contradiction: Jacqueline Rose’s Women in Dark Times

This book’s most impressive trick is in the way it pulls together seemingly disparate figures. In this fierce, insightful and wide-ranging collection, Jacqueline Rose calls for nothing less than a reformulation of feminism. Read more »

Clive-James-typical-mix-o-014

Cosima McGrath

The Unreliable Truth of Clive James

Some authors hermit themselves away and are unknowable to the public except through their writing. Clive James, on the other hand, carries his own spotlight. Read more »

article-2301242-18FA52E4000005DC-314_470x763

Rebecca Shaw

An Inconvenient Truth: Social stigma and menstruation

If you have heard of menstruation, you would know that it is an essential process in a little tiny thing called the EXISTENCE AND CONTINUATION OF HUMAN LIFE, and it is something that most (not all) women experience for about five days every month for a large part of their lives. It is a topic (besides shopping, lol) that women think about frequently. Read more »

fx-2015-winter-tcajpeg-069cb_c0-146-3500-2186_s561x327

Rebecca Shaw

Billy, Don’t Be a Homophobe

As a non-heterosexual person who has lived my entire life in a heteronormative world, I have a finely tuned antenna for homophobia. Loaded terms, like those used recently by Billy Crystal, are becoming more common, as it becomes less acceptable to state openly that you get an icky feeling when you see two people of the same sex kiss. Read more »

B5QJwMhIYAAfjxG

Rebecca Shaw

A Tale of Two Penises: Double Dick Dude and the invisibility of male bisexuality

For the past year I have found myself fascinated by penises. If I’d been to the races, I would have created a monstrous dick fascinator to wear as a beautiful physical representation of my mental state. But let me be clear, I have not been captivated with all or even many penises. My fascination has solely been aimed at the two penises owned by the man known only as ‘Diphallic Dude’, or more casually ‘DoubleDickDude’. Read more »

girlwalkshomealoneatnight

Anwen Crawford

Bad Cities

A Most Violent Year has an atmosphere of all-pervading dread, like a film noir, as if the polluted air of New York itself was causing people to act against their better intentions. Even more haunting and more noir is A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, a memorably audacious debut feature from American-Iranian director Ana Lily Amirpour. Read more »

cdn.indiewire

Kate Middleton

On the Trail: Wild and the voyage of the modern woman

Strayed articulates the question that drives so many pilgrimage narratives: ‘What if I forgive myself?’ That same question perhaps suggests why female-driven journeys are resonating with audiences now: self-reliance and the abandonment of a conventional life have long been male-dominated themes. Read more »

Film Review Selma

Anwen Crawford

An Urgent and Motivating Anger: The politics of Selma

How to approach a figure with the reputation of a secular saint? One achievement of Selma – and it is a film of many achievements – is to reanimate King as a living, breathing man; a man of politics, strategy, and absolute, underlying resolve. Read more »

video-undefined-22D54AFA00000578-784_636x358

Matilda Dixon-Smith

Insufferable assholes and grown up Girls

Yes, our girls are growing, learning, discovering. But all they’re really discovering is how toxic and unheroic they are, and how to use that to their advantage. They’re not going to grow out of their asshole tendencies, because they are actually assholes. Read more »

agent-carter-7683

Danielle Binks

Agent Carter and the future of the female superhero

Agent Carter has been described ‘a Triumph for Women, Marvel and TV,’ and heralded as an important new chapter in comics culture. If this supposedly groundbreaking new show fails, does it spell doom for the future of female-led superhero franchises? Read more »

39154_4f8f076801b89b442752af76ac226fc0

Anwen Crawford

Satire and Scandal: Revisiting Frontline

Frontline’s makers could not have anticipated the long, web-based afterlife of their creation, though they might not be surprised that their targets – the rampant egotism and moral hypocrisies of tabloid journalism – remain just as current. Read more »

ss_f6a450fbf737eb04c58b973f72e8817bb2b50285.600x338

Katie Williams

Brain Candy: Are game jams diluting the potential of video games?

In a world where YouTube gameplay videos narrated by hollering amateurs hold as much clout – if not more – than professional game critics, I worry that developers may be swayed to choose an easier, unimaginative, and more vacuous path to success. Read more »

cher_horowitz_closet-010_2

Katie Williams

Fashion Forward: How hidden algorithms are dressing up technology

Though we increasingly rely on technology to simplify our lives, we still want to believe that behind the scenes is a happy, human face, rather than an impassive machine that does the dirty work for us. Read more »

wowx5-artwork-012-full

Katie Williams

Killing Monsters and Making Memories: How virtual worlds facilitate communication

When I hang out with my brother, we joke, make fun of each other, and swap stories about mutual friends. Sometimes, we’ll each pack a bag of stat-enhancing potions and go out to kill large monsters. It’s been well over a year since I saw my brother in the flesh – but thanks to World of Warcraft, I interact with him on a daily basis. Read more »

Before Us_3

Jane Howard

Stuart Bowden’s Unfamiliar, Universal Worlds

It’s hard to classify the work of Stuart Bowden. His one-person storytelling theatre works are at once hilarious and melancholy. They exist in a particular space of fringe theatre: intricately crafted stories built for small rooms & small audiences, they lift and rise that audience, gathering us all up in the magic of stories & the closeness they can breed. Read more »

The-Rabbits-2015-1280x470

Jane Howard

Thinking Outside the Box Seats: The future of Australian opera and musical theatre

If we want to see new work and innovation grow in opera and musical theatre, we need to consider how they might develop within our culture. Read more »

MovingMusicAndreCastellucci1

Jane Howard

The (Sometimes) Beauty of Being Alone at the Theatre

I often go to the theatre on my own. One of the great joys of writing reviews is that even when I attend productions solo, I still get to talk (write) about them at length after the fact. Seeing theatre is a wonderful activity to do unaccompanied, because as soon as the performance starts, everyone is alone in some way. Read more »