Things To Look Forward To 

David Gaunt has owned Gleebooks with partner Roger Mackell since 1976.

May 2017

Gleebooks Bookshop - Wednesday, May 10, 2017
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but few things in my forty years at Gleebooks have struck me more forcefully than the changing face of ‘marketing the author’ in the book industry. The upcoming, wonderfully enticing Sydney Writers’ Festival reminds me again of how incredibly helpful to the success of any book is the positive exposure of the author to his/her public. It’s a very crowded marketplace, and writers now compete for attention in all forms of media with many other artists and art forms, so there is something peculiarly interesting about the capacity of Writers’ Festival to allow writers, both established and new, a chance to shine. And not in any way surprising that those so expert in wordsmithing should often shine in conversation, on panels, or just reading from their works.
So it’s with my usual positive air of vicarious excitement (as part of Gleebooks SWF book selling team I’ll see nothing—thank goodness for the ABC and the Festival’s own podcasts! So I’ll give my pick of which sessions I’d get to, if I could. There are hundreds of writers and lots to see, so this is just a snapshot. Of course I would want to see the charismatic Booker prize winner Paul Beatty, but a previous winner, Anne Enright, is a favourite of mine (The Green Road was one of my best books of 2015) and not to be missed. I think George Saunders, that brilliant American short story writer and commentator touring Australia for the first time, has written an astonishingly original novel in Lincoln in the Bardo. He shouldn’t be missed. Neither should (on a completely different tack) the great American journalist, Thomas Friedman, on Trump’s America. Bill Hayes has shown himself to be a beautiful writer about New York, himself, and his relationship with the much loved Oliver Sacks. And the subject matter alone of The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead would be compelling enough for a session. The bonus is the quality of the writing (the book just won the Pulitzer Prize). I would love to hear the invariably eloquent Robert Dessaix on The Pleasures of Leisure, and also the four writers on Helen Garner (including Bernadette Brennan, who recently published a splendid critical biography on Garner). And I would certainly catch anybody Richard Fidler decides to interview. Last, but by no means least, I’d love to watch the sheer joy on the faces of the hundreds of kids who will show up on the weekend to revel in Lauren Child’s ‘Quirky Characters’. Should be priceless fun.

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