Not having the imagination to sit and write a (best-selling of course) novel has left me with a degree of frustration. Sure, I have spent many years off-setting this by ghost-writing autobiographies, copywriting and editing along with numerous published articles in newspapers and magazines. But now I fancied challenging myself to do a bit more and start to critique the books I constantly read. It also helps me to remember! The older I get the more vague my recollection of plot or character development becomes – writing it down helps. And it also helps (possibly) avoid the realisation that the latest book you are halfway through is one that you have already read (that has, thankfully, happened just the once – and I blame the paucity of ideas in the book, not me! But then I would – it’s safer that way).
I have also set myself the challenge of reading (or rereading) all the shortlisted novels for both the Miles Franklin and Booker Prizes. Not sure how wise that is as there’ll be an awful lot of books I will not be that keen on (a whole host from the 1960s and 70s comes to mind) and it means no sidestepping to read some of my favourite authors ineligible for the awards – so no Murakami, Marquez, Baldwin to name but three. But it also means I will be exposed to authors I’m not familiar with – a whole host of local Australians, the Libyan Hisham Matar and Achmat Dangor from South Africa I have read as a result of my self-set challenge I would not have otherwise picked up.
The genesis of this decision a quite a simple one – having moved to Australia I had little cultural depth of knowledge nor shared cultural history. The reading of local ‘classics’ and authors allowed me, to some extent, an insight into references by my contemporaries. So it evolved into reading the shortlisted Miles Franklin novels. But I soon realised how restrictive such a task was and widened it to include the Booker – at least by doing so I would extend my reach to the UK, India, Canada, parts of Africa – namely the Commonwealth countries. And I for one welcomed the inclusion of American writers for the first time in 2015!
But I do not want to limit myself to books. Much of that writing in the past (and present) is linked to film – and I see a great number of films, both arthouse and commercial. So this blog will see a mix of the two (and maybe a few other ‘opinions’).
I’ve worked in the film industry in Australia (production, distribution, marketing) as well having been the artistic director/curator/producer of numerous film festivals in Australia and the Middle East. But I’ve also worked in the worlds of contemporary dance and theatre as well as developing international cultural policies (UK, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Australia). Now my focus is on the visual arts as I run, with my partner, one of the largest privately owned galleries in Melbourne (and probably Victoria).