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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Publishing New.

* QUEENSCLIFF'S THE BOOKSTORE invites you to an Open Reading eveNing this saturday [ 26th] from 8 pm. bring your own work, or a favourite. Guest presenter is local author JUSTIN D'ATH.

* The wonderful Les Murray was on " Talking Heads" monday night: probably available on-line somewhere. His " Spurwing Plover" is our poem for today.

* His colleague BRUCE DAWE, now age 80, is apparently teaching Bruce Dawe's poems to a U3A class in his home town....[ Yours truly is offering classes in Dawe and Murray from October 6th to Geelong U3A.]

* The latest issue - the "WET" edition - of Deakin's WINDMILLS is now available. Lots of new creative writing, edited by our Alyson and Jo [ plus team.] I found mine at the Drysdale library.

* Does every popular novel have to be turned into a film or TV series? I see that " The Elegance of the Hedgehog" [ which i reviewed a few weeks back] will be playing at the " NOVA" in a month's time. By the way, have you read it? Comment?

* A friend sent me a beautiful new book " The Hard Light Of Day" last week. I received it the very day its author, ROD MOSS, was on Phillip Adams' LNL Again, I think all LNL interviews can be found on-line. I will be talking about the book when I've had time to read it.

* Do you remember Scott Turow's " Presumed Innocent" ....from 23 years ago? AND the excellent film, starring Harrison Ford? Turow has written a sequel which I will talk about soon. If you've not seen it, have a look at the DVD.

*SHIRLEY WALKER's " The Ghost at the Wedding" which we talked about last year has won an award for non-fiction.

* When discussing Clifton Evers' " Notes for a Young Surfer" last week, I bemoaned the scarcity of books that look seriously at sport AS CULTURE and its impact on Australian society. [ I also neglected to mention LES CARLYON and GIDEON HAIGH, two outstanding writers who have continually written on the topic.] Lo and behold: a new book is out called " Sport and the Australian national identity" has just been published. Aforesaid Gideon Haigh gave it quite a good review. Just $125! Bernard

REVIEW: Helen Fitzgerald: My Last Confession, Faber/Allen&Unwin paperback, 2009, rrp $32-99

On this program we do our best to promote LOCAL writers [ as with John today again.]....I am cheating a bit in this regard with Helen's book: she USED to be a "local" in that she grew up around the corner from us in Kilmore. Nowadays Helen lives in Glasgow with her husband and two cjhildren.....But i reckon we should trumpet the achievement of anyone from our Central Highlands who can get SIX novels written and published in the UK. Helen's husband Sergio is a screenwrter and she says it was largely a case of " If he can do it, why can't I?" hat got her starting in professionl writing [ though knowing Helen's Mum, a former colleague, and three of her older siblings, I suspect there was always a writer waiting here inside...] There is in fact feel of he screenplay in today's book for review.

The handful of characters are neatly drawn, here is a strong sense of place [ though her Glasgow isn't as gritty as, say, Ian Rankin's - which may be because of her assured contemporary placing of the action. Kriissie is at the heart of all the action [ as she will be in the later " Dead Lovely'.] Here helen is undoubtedly drawing on her own experience when she worked for some years in the Glasgow prison system as something like our probation officer - a demanding and occasionally life-threatening profession, no doubt. Krissie is quirky, intelligent, reflective, vulnerable - and always very up-front honest.

Someone close to Helen old me to be ready for a " racy" read, and it is true,. All the frankness and brashness of 21st century urban life is on display here. This is not however " grunge' literature; there is too much fun lurking just below the surface [ in THIS novel by Helen at least.] I found the tone appropriately ironic which makes even the darker bits bearable. Krissie is a single Mum who has decided she will move herself and son, Robbie, in with long-time boyfriend, he sculptor, Chas. She begins her new job, as a probation officer. These workplace scenes are, not surprisingly, among the novel's best: the colleagues, the " workplace relations, the casework. In her efforts to avoid child abuse cases, Krissie attracts some doozies of clients to put it mildly. This provides the second key plot-line [ after the Krissie-Robbie-Chas relationship.]

The books defies any net classification of " crime novel', " thriller" or " procedural' and yet she includes features of each. AsKrissie becomes more involved in the case of accused murderer, Jeremy, she inevitably finds work cannot be left at the office. The family space becomes horribly vulnerable. We will met Krissie again in " Dead Lovely" where any notions the reader might have carried that she was some sort of heroine or role model will undergo a drastic re-think! [ Please read on after the first page.] Apparently the Krissie characyter is being worked into TV series and I can see the possibilities.

She is a new New Woman - stereotyping-challenging, abrasive, yet very human. I wonder how many readers will empathise with her.......No matter: two of my favourite crime fiction characters are Rankin's John Rebus and JL Burke's Dave Robicheaux - but I'm not sure I LIKE them. They are INTERESTING, entertaining. So too Krissie. I congratulate Helen on what she has so far done. I suspect we are seeing h apprentice at work, however. She is already way ahead of so many whose bulk takes up the space in our libraries and book stores. helen writes great dialogue, doesn't use cliches and gives us credible characters - not a bad start for good novel writing, i say. The books are in your Geelong regional library, and I hope in the shops. Well worth reading.

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