A Pale View of Hills 

Dulwich Hill branch manager, radio personality, and book selling superstar, Morgan Smith tells us how it is.

May 2018

Gleebooks Bookshop - Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Holidays are never long enough, are they? I’m back from the very beautiful island of Tasmania (no wonder everyone wants to move there) where I holidayed but also attended a very informative and enjoyable book industry conference. In between the many sessions about the book business were lots of writers telling us about their new books. We are truly blessed with so many fantastic Australian writers and here’s  a sample of some of their presentations in what amounted to a mini-writers’ festival.
A hilarious session involved two writers—Robbie Arnott (Flames, May) and Katherine Collette (The Helpline, September) pitching their books Gruen-style. They were both really brilliant and funny, and both books sound great. The Helpline is a feel-good story featuring a very funny, horrifically self-centred lead character, and will be enjoyed by those looking for something light and endearing. Flames is a well-written literary fiction set in Tasmania employing different points of view and modes of storytelling to great effect. People who have read this say it’s fantastic.

Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe (July) looks really exciting. Trent is a journalist, an erudite and funny speaker who based his novel on his extremely strange childhood in Brisbane where his babysitter was a major criminal. I’ve dipped into it and the writing is excellent. It’s next in line in my triage of books to read. Chris Hammer is another debut writer who talked about Scrublands (July) which people are saying could well be the new The Dry—a very Australian crime novel.

At the splendid conference dinner the keynote was delivered by Kon Karapanagiotidis, author of The Power of Hope: Or, How Community, Love and Compassion Can Change Our World (July). Kon gave an incredibly intelligent, political, personal and moving speech. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. 

While the #MeToo movement wasn’t exactly the talk of the town, there were a lot of strong women who had a lot to say, none more-so than in the session chaired by Allen & Unwin publisher Jane Palfreyman. Jane is publishing three brilliant young women this year…the new wave of feminism embodied by the wonderful Clementine Ford, whose follow-up to the bestselling Fight Like a Girl  is Boys will be Boys (October) about how we can bring up boys differently. Incredibly impressive was lawyer Bri Lee with her memoir Eggshell Skull (June) in which she chronicles her time as a district court Judge’s Assistant working mainly on domestic violence and child abuse. The work led Bri to confront her own childhood abuse and the result is a book that promises to be remarkable. Teacher (July) by Gabbie Stroud is a memoir about her experience of being a burnt-out teacher in Queensland—a book which is much more than an exposé or criticism of the education system, and which is bound to enrage parents and teachers alike. All three writers spoke about their lives and experiences with heart and soul and the session ended in hugs and tears.

More next month about books coming out later in the year. See you on D’Hill, Morgan

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