Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Melbourne Writers Festival - the first weekend Part One

After arriving in Melbourne on Thursday and successfully rendezvousing with Sunnie from Launceston and Sally from Darwin, Karen from AustCrime drove us to her place in the hills. After a riotous welcome from the dogs, and a slightly more subdued one from Karen's other half (we were pleased he didn't also leap all over us with muddy paws!) we got down to the serious business of having fun. We spent Friday wandering around the local area, visiting a few bookshops, and, er, um, acquiring one or two - ish.

Melbourne Writers Festival started for us on Saturday when we attended two sessions. The first was a non-crime event called 'Getting Personal' with David Sedaris, Judith Lucy and Nam Le. They spoke on using their personal lives as material for their books. David Sedaris and Judith Lucy had us in stitches, and Nam Le, although competing with a professional humourist and a comedian, was able to keep us interested with some amusing anecdotes, and thoughtful comments.

The second session was 'Reading the Landscape' with Barry Maitland, Nick Gadd and David Francis discussing how they used landscape in their mysteries to evoke a mood and create tension. In their latest works they have used a shard of rock rearing out of the southern ocean, a Melbourne suburban level crossing, and the icy splendour of Moscow, respectively. While I only knew of Barry Maitland's work, they were all fascinating to listen to.

Between sessions we wandered up town, and, er, somehow stumbled across a couple more bookshops, the wonderful Readers Feast, and of course, what would a trip to Melbourne be without a visit to Kill City. I think a few more books may have found their way into my bag.

After many years at the Malthouse, MWF moved to a new location at Federation Square this year. So far I've found Fed Square to a rather cold and impersonal environment. It's lacking a central social space to gather between sessions. There is nowhere to sit except in cafes and bars where you are obliged to buy something. I can't help feeling that MWF has lost its soul.

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