Friday, December 7, 2012

A tale of two launches: Melbourne and Sydney

Leslie launches and I smirk, at Embiggen Books
Thursday night was the Melbourne launch of Philosophy in the Garden at the very handsome and thoughtfully-stocked Embiggen Books, on Little Lonsdale Street. (I've written about them here.)

Leslie Cannold, public intellectual and author of the bold Book of Rachael, launched the books for me. 

As befitting a Power Index thinker, Leslie introduced me with some very generous words (including something about my 'modesty'--must have been irony), then I read from my chapter on Orwell: 'Down and Out With a Sharp Scythe'.

I don't recall all the questions, but there were some excellent questions and comments from Maria Tumarkin, Ian Britain, Embiggen Books owner Warren Bonnett, and Leslie herself.

In reply to Warren's question (about wilderness and Deep Ecology), I noted that I was chiefly interested in the domestic: yards, parks, pots. Partly because I'm a homebody. Leslie asked if this was linked to the small but important number of women authors in the book (Colette, Austen, Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson). My answer was 'yes': it is a defence, in part, of that traditionally 'feminine' world: the home, the local, the intimate.

(This hadn't occurred to me.)

Overall, it was a real pleasure to see my family, and so many friends, colleagues and total strangers there to celebrate this little book. As always, I didn't get to really talk to anyone properly. But I felt very at home in Melbourne.

And even more so after Ruth and I absconded for salmon and swordfish soup, dolmades and diced lamb at Tsindos

So thank-you, one and all.

Signing my book for travel author Walter Mason
Wednesday saw me in (warmer, windier) Sydney, launching the book at Gleebooks

The night featured a 'Q & A' with Charlotte Wood, my guest on the Write Tools, and author of the tender, hilarious and perspicacious Animal People.

It was lovely to finally meet Charlotte, as well as several Twitter 'tweeps', including editrix Kylie Mason, who live-tweeted the launch.

Before we fled for Charlotte's choice of Szechuan at Spicy Sichuan (simple but outstanding), there were some great questions, including an excellent point from The Velvet Nap. Specifically, did gardens provide a kind of immortality for those authors without kids?

Perhaps not immortality, but certainly care: the chance to help another life flourish, even if it means pain (frosts, thorns) or anxiety (wasted hours, windblown elms). And to marvel: something often done with kids, but also in that 'third space' between wildness and the pure domestic.

If gardens don't offer immortality, they do provide an emotional and intellectual landscape to encourage writing--and in this, they nudge some (e.g. Emily Dickinson) to live a little posthumously. 

Thanks, Sydney: a very warm welcome.

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