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Our picks for the 2014 Melbourne Writers Festival

by Kill Your Darlings , August 18, 2014Leave a comment

KYD Drinks @ MWF

We at Kill Your Darlings are getting very excited about the upcoming Melbourne Writers Festival, which begins this Thursday 21 August and runs until Sunday 31 August.

Every year MWF brings together an impressive range of local and international writers, speakers and thinkers to share and discuss literature, writing and ideas. We’ve collected our picks for the best of the fest – the must-see events and writers we’re most looking forward to over the coming weeks. We’ll also be bringing you coverage of MWF events throughout the festival.

We’re holding a special KYD event for our writers, contributors, readers and friends, and we’d love to see you there. Find us at the Festival Club on the last night of MWF, and get yourself warmed up for the closing night party with a few cheeky drinks.

Kill Your Darlings MWF Drinks
Sunday August 31st, 4.30pm
Optic Kitchen + Bar (MWF Festival Club)
Level 1 ACMI, Federation Square

Our Festival Picks

Brigid Mullane, Editor

Chris Hadfield: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life
Chris Hadfield has been to space. That’s pretty cool and would be enough for me to be weak-kneed over this event. But, not only has he been to space, he also sang ‘Space Oddity’ in space, and made a tortilla sandwich in space and (my favourite) squeezed out a washcloth in space. He’s my hero.

What I Learned About Sex From Reading
Alissa Nutting’s book Tampa was a harrowing read and, initially, I was sure that I loathed it. But it’s a book that has stayed with me, and I am interested to hear from the writer behind such a provocative and visceral book. Also, knowing Beth Blanchard’s interviewing skills, and her passion for this book, I think the audience will be getting a real insight into Nutting and her work.

The Rereaders Live Podcast
Our very own pop culture columnist, Steph Van Schilt, will be hitting the stage with Dion Kagan and Sam Twyford-Moore for a live recording of the Rereaders podcast. I am a voracious listener of podcasts and this one is now high in my rotation (along with the KYD podcast, of course!). They’ll be joined by special guest author Willy Vlautin.

Veronica Sullivan, Online Editor

Opening Night Address: Helen Garner
Garner
 is the Australian Janet Malcolm, gifted with a gimlet eye and an ability to dissect the flaws and foibles of real lives in all their mess and glory. Her new book, This House of Grief, explores the circumstances and ramifications of the Father’s Day murder of three young boys by their father in 2005. Like her writing, Garner the woman is warm and confidential, but sharp and fierce. She will no doubt bring her usual surgical precision and ruthless honesty to bear on this devastating story and in her MWF opening night address.

Pussy Riot: A True History
For years, erudite and softly-spoken journalist and LGBT activist Masha Gessen has been quietly and tirelessly warning the world of the dangers of Putin’s anti-democratic government. And, whoopsy, we’re just figuring out she’s been right all along! I can’t wait to hear Gessen speaking about her new book Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot, which explores the political and social significance of the mini-revolution sparked by feminist punk-protest group Pussy Riot.

Meaghan Dew, Editorial Assistant

Creativity, Childhood and Reading
Earlier this year I convinced a friend to attend a signing halfway across the world in my place so he could carry a (now signed) copy of A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius safely home to me. So you can imagine how excited I am that Dave Eggers will be attending three different events at MWF this year. If you’re already familiar with his writing (and his work at McSweeney’s) then I’d recommend this session. It seems likely to focus on his work with 826 Valencia, an organisation dedicated to supporting students with their writing skills and getting them excited about the literary arts. He’ll be in conversation with Lachlann Carter, whose 100 Story Building pursues similar goals.

Nostalgiarama: Revisiting Buffy the Vampire Slayer
If like most of us you need to match every paid session with a freebie you can’t go past Buffy. I would say that regardless of the writers involved (did you see the word Buffy in the title?) but with Estelle Tang and Stephanie Van Schilt at the helm it’s sure to be an entertaining, insightful start to the first festival weekend.

 




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Abigail Ulman

Cold Feet and Hot Little Hands: Abigail Ulman on writing – and not writing – her first book

Post-book deal, every time I sat down to try to write something, I felt paralysed by some kind of literary stage fright. I had shown my work to other people before – for writing workshops, and submissions to literary journals and competitions – but I had never before written a story while thinking This story is going to be published in a book. Or, more accurately, This story idea is nowhere near good enough to be published in a book. Read more »

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Sian Campbell

Girlhood and The Woman-Child in Abigail Ulman’s Hot Little Hands

Each of the stories in Hot Little Hands navigates girlhood in some way, from the lives of high school-age teenagers to those of young twentysomething women. ‘Girl things’ such as horse camp, gymnastics, feminised bodies, clothing, periods, crushes, yoga and gossip weave through the fabric of the text. Though the subject matter is often adult – the girls of Hot Little Hands navigate abortion, sex trafficking, young motherhood, drugs, and deportation – the girls themselves are not… even when they technically are. Read more »

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James Tierney

Subscriber Stories: Angela Readman’s Don’t Try This At Home

As a subscriber to publisher And Other Stories’ distribution model, I am in the unusual position of reviewing a book – Angela Readman’s short story collection Don’t Try This At Home – that thanks me by name for making its existence possible. Read more »

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Rebecca Shaw

Amy Schumer and the equal right to be funny

I don’t think men should be banned from making jokes about contentious subjects. I am of the belief that anything can and should be laughed about, and if done right, it can be beneficial. But more often, women are doing it right, and women are doing it better. Read more »

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Kate Iselin

Trivial Pursuits: The media and ‘women’s interests’

Women, especially in public life, exist as a part of men’s worlds – a big part, sure – but still a part. Even as women become more vocal in demanding accurate and respectful representation, we are kept at arms length by a mainstream media which struggles to catch up. Read more »

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Rebecca Shaw

Command and Control: Trophy daughters and overprotective dads

There is no doubt that an overprotective parent is better than a parent who couldn’t care less what their child gets up to. And there is no doubt that most overprotective mums and dads are well-meaning. But paternal ‘protectiveness’ shticks often boil down to fathers not wanting their daughters to have sex, and by extension, get pregnant. Read more »

Partisan

Joanna Di Mattia

To experience the world with blinkers on: Ariel Kleiman’s Partisan

Partisan beautifully evokes that complex space between childhood and adulthood, when we start to question the worldview we have inherited – when we begin to see the world through our own eyes. It is both a coming-of-age story, and an innocence-coming-undone story. Read more »

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Joanna di Mattia

Kristen Stewart Through the Looking-Glass

Kristen Stewart is an actress who has been criticised, maligned even, for an acting style that transmits from set to screen as sullen, adolescent, wooden, blank, fidgety and inelegant. But perhaps she’s an actress concerned with authenticity, and the defining feature of her style is to show us herself by appearing like she’s not acting at all. Read more »

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Anwen Crawford

Behind You: The subtler horror of It Follows

I don’t watch many horror films. Lifelong victim of an overactive and slightly morbid imagination, I regularly envisage disasters, natural or otherwise, that might befall me, without requiring the added stimulus of cinema. Read more »

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Anwen Crawford

Shame and Stigma on Struggle Street

Struggle Street framed poverty as a combination of genetic inheritance and natural disaster – a barrier to be overcome only through ceaseless positive effort. Those who sabotage themselves through bad choices are therefore fair targets for our scorn, while those who gain employment or remain sober deserve praise for overcoming the odds. The deserving and undeserving poor, in other words. What an old story. Read more »

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Genevieve Wood

The Slap: What’s lost when a cricket bat becomes a baseball bat?

‘A cricket bat wouldn’t make sense in an American context’, says Tony Ayres, executive producer of the US adaptation of Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap. He’s right, of course – it wouldn’t. But when, in US playwright Jon Robin Baitz’s version, the eponymous slap occurs as the result of a swinging baseball bat, something’s not quite right. Read more »

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Anwen Crawford

Rise of an Empire

Watching Empire, I wondered why there haven’t been more television shows about record labels, the music industry being the cesspit of venality that it is. Forget TV dramas about police departments and hospital wards – a show about a record label comes with all that conflict, plus outfits, plus songs. Read more »

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Katie Williams

Silicon Valley Fashion Week?: Fashion, technology, and wearability

Last week saw the inaugural Silicon Valley Fashion Week? (yes, with a question mark) unfold in San Francisco. The show promised ‘drones, robots, and mad inventions’, and tickets sold out swiftly; attendees were clearly eager to see more inventive clothing in this heartland of nerds. Read more »

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Katie Williams

Digging For Meaning in Utopia: Storytelling in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing is a series of games in which – as my partner once remarked incredulously – ‘nothing ever happens.’ In its latest incarnation, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you become the unwitting mayor of a town populated by anthropomorphic, bipedal animals. Read more »

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Katie Williams

The Currency of Games: The real world cost of in-game purchases

A new item introduced in World of Warcraft lets players purchase a month of playing time for the real-life price of $20, which they can then sell to other players in-game in exchange for virtual currency. It’s an exchange of real money for a virtual currency that has in-game value but none in the physical, ‘real’ world – and it makes me incredibly uneasy. Read more »

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Jane Howard

Dark Side of the Rainbow: Belvoir St Theatre’s The Wizard of Oz

This production of The Wizard of Oz is ‘after L Frank Baum’: after his book, after the 1939 film, and after our collective memories of both. Fragmented, non-narrative, and largely wordless, it relies on our existing knowledge of the text to build a work of images and emotion, and in doing so demands an extreme generosity from the audience. Read more »

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Jane Howard

A Case for Diversity in Theatre

Attracting different audiences to the theatre is about many things. It’s about accessibility for people without high disposable incomes, but it’s also about marketing and publicity; about creating venues which are physically accessible for people with disabilities; and about ensuring the performers on stage are as diverse as we want their audiences to be. Read more »

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Jane Howard

A Working-Class Mythology: Ironing boards at the theatre

In theatre, there is perhaps no prop piece more mythologised than the ironing board, which came to signify the birth of contemporary British theatre. Read more »