Festival time

‘Why don’t they knock ’em down and put in some amenities like garages, drive-in opera houses and bottle-shops?’
Barry McKenzie, on being shown the architectural gems of Paris, in Barry McKenzie Holds His Own

Even though he could do with the money, [Gerald] Murnane recently decided not to enter the $60,000 Melbourne Prize for Literature, the most lucrative award of its kind in Australia, because the winner must spend half the prize money on international travel. “Part of the money had to be spent on travelling to Europe!” he says with genuine indignation. “I was insulted to think that anyone would think I couldn’t write unless I was staring at mouldy old buildings in Italy or France.”
The Australian, August 19

It’s time for the Melbourne Writers Festival. Maybe only an editor would notice, but it’s kind of poor that the official website can’t decide if there should be an apostrophe after Writers (Chicago uncharacteristically lets you have it either way); consistency of punctuation would be nice for an event that celebrates writing.

Anyway, I haven’t been near the festival for the last few years, as I’m wary of the hordes of Camberwell ladies wearing scarves (I shouldn’t knock them, they’re probably the target market for my book). But I’ll be heading out this year in support of two writers: Tony Moore, author of The Barry McKenzie Movies, and most importantly, the man who commissioned Women of the Gobi from me (and encouraged me to put more bad jokes in it); and Gerald Murnane, the great modernist writer and my former writing teacher, whose home brew I am proud to have drunk.

Gerald is a man who can’t deal with new technologies. He prides himself on, and even defines himself by, all the things he has never done. He won’t use a computer. He won’t eat mango. He won’t wear sunglasses. (He says he won’t watch television, but that’s not true; his son, Martin, reports that Gerald was a big fan of F Troop in the seventies.) Chris sees this attitude as a challenge; later this week, Gerald and his wife Catherine are coming around for dinner, and Chris plans to set up a photograph of Gerald playing House of the Dead 2. I can’t imagine it myself, but if anyone can harass Gerald Murnane into shooting a zombie’s head open, it’s Chris.

2 Responses to “Festival time”

  1. Bugger MacKenzie says:

    The St Kilda Writers/Writers’ Festival had the same problem. But apostrophe misuse is widespread in society. It boil’s the blood. Maybe I should chill out and listen to CD’s instead, or attend a gig where DJ’s are playing.

  2. kate says:

    Or go to the grocer and buy some banana’s.

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