A ‘Live’ Concert at Last! Music, She Wrote

“The theme of this concert: ‘Music, She Wrote’ was an admirable exploration of the work of women composers of the 19th and early 20th century.” Jennifer has begun 2021 by attending a live concert, with live performers and an in-real-life audience, and no Zooming in sight. From her own website, here’s Jennifer’s review.

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The venue for this concert was a fairly new space in suburban Melbourne, The Button Factory. A pleasant place to be on a hot day with a bar at the back, plenty of indoor plants and an interesting gallery. https://thebuttonfactory.com.au/

I had heard nearly all of the performers in pre-Covid days – often in concerts associated with the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM). I had assumed that all were fully professional and was surprised to read that some of them have ‘day jobs’ such as pharmacist and physiotherapist – a sign of the hard lot of the professional musician.

The theme of this concert: ‘Music, She Wrote’ was an admirable exploration of the work of women composers of the 19th and early 20th century. The only composer I’d heard of was the most recent, Margaret Sutherland (1897 – 1984).

As I sat listening to engrossing substantial pieces…

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And the 2020 Booker winner is….

Another ‘good on you’ to Jennifer: her favourite from this year’s Booker shortlist, Douglas Stuart’s debut novel Shuggie Bain, has been announced as the winner.

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Back in September I said of Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain: ‘This is a debut novel and it’s made it onto the Booker long list — and of the three books from that list that I’ve read so far, it is by far the best.’ Well — last night, London time, Douglas Stuart was announced as the winner of the prestigious Booker Prize. https://thebookerprizes.com/fiction/2020

Congratulations — what an achievement!

Maybe Douglas Stuart will now give up his work as a fashion designer? I am pleased to hear that he is working on a second novel, set in Glasgow in the 1990s.. I look forward to reading it. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/nov/19/douglas-stuart-wins-booker-prize-for-debut-shuggie-bain

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Two more books from the 2020 Booker shortlist

Elwood Writer Jennifer has been reading her way through this year’s Booker shortlist. Good on you, Jennifer. She’s one title short of finishing the entire list. The Booker winner will be announced on 19 November. This is the latest post from Jennifer’s blog, Little Smackerel:

littlesmackerel

Real Life and The New Wilderness may be the last two shortlisted books I read before the winner of the Booker is announced on 19th November. The only book on the shortlist that I haven’t read is The Shadow King, by Maaza Mengiste. Overall, I’ve found the books rather disappointing — possibly a result of my own short-comings, as I tread cautiously, for example, when I, a middleclass caucasian, try to immerse myself in the world of an Afro American gay man.

Brandon Taylor’s Real Life is a debut novel, so he must be congratulated on making it to the shortlist in this prestigious competition. The whole story takes place over one weekend in a university town in the US Midwest. It is a slab of life — a slab of a particular kind of life, where Wallace, a gay Afro American postgraduate biochemist, tries to exist in a…

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‘Broken Rules’ is out!

Barry Lee Thompson’s short story collection, Broken Rules is already proving to be a stunning success. It is to be launched, virtually, by Readings bookstore next Monday 14th September at 6.30pm Eastern Australian Time. Don’t miss out on the chance to hear Barry ‘in conversation’. The event is free, but you need to book: https://www.readings.com.au/event/barry-lee-thompson-in-conversation

Already there has been a range of very complimentary reviews, including in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. The following review was written by Amanda Rayner of Readings Books. We hope to see you at the Launch next Monday.

The short-story collection from a single author is something I have grown to appreciate, especially in the last ten years or so. Australian writers have definitely made their mark in this area, ranging from those works with a strong sense of concept (Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals), those linked by a sense of mood (This Taste for Silence by Amanda O’Callaghan) and those that are simply an impressive, varied collection (Fabulous Lives by Bindy Pritchard). Broken Rules and Other Stories by Barry Lee Thompson (who was born in Liverpool but now lives in Melbourne, so we’re claiming him!) touches on all these approaches but is its own unique collection and brought unexpected tears to my eyes in the closing pages.

Broken Rules and Other Stories is described as seventeen interlinked stories. I found coming to each story individually and not worrying too much about how it should ‘fit’ resulted in me slowly seeing the possible links between them. By the time I read the final and longest story, ‘Angel’, I had developed my own perspective on how these stories worked together, which bought a sense of closure for me as a reader. The stories cover two main themes. The first focuses on stories from gay male perspectives: fantasies as a young boy, first approaches, random encounters with strangers, sex work, and the continuing search for true intimacy. Scattered between these stories is a group of tales that centre on family dynamics, with a particular focus on the relationship between mother and son.

Regardless of connections the individual reader may make between the stories, there is not one weak link. All pieces capture your attention quickly and none outstay their welcome. It is Thompson’s ability to create a vivid sense of place and tone that makes this an exciting (although sometimes unsettling) reading experience. At this point I am still wondering if I can forgive the author for the terrifying pictures in my head after reading the opening story!

Meet the Author

And finally in today’s trio of dispatches to mark the release of Broken Rules, here’s a recent post from Margaret’s blog where she shares a Q&A Barry did with In Their Own Write.

WRITINGS AND MUSINGS OF MARGARET MCCAFFREY

Barry Lee Thompson, member of Elwood Writers, has a guest interview in relation to his newly released book, Broken Rules and Other Stories. The interview features on the website, ‘In Their Own Write’.

Barry talks about his writing process. For him there is no such thing as writer’s block. If he gets stuck, he works on something different for a while, dipping in and out of stories.

‘I don’t sit down for lengthy periods in front of a page, but dip in and out through the day. Writing is a series of problems. I walk a lot, and think a lot, and sit and daydream, and ideas and solutions arrive in those moments.’ 

Barry addresses other topics pertinent to writers, but today let’s just look at what to do if we get stuck on something. Dabble with another piece, for instance, try something new, go for a walk. Let…

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Book launch invitation

Here’s the info on Barry’s online book event for Monday 14 September. We’re looking forward to attending.

Barry Lee Thompson

Broken Rules and Other Stories

Join me on Monday 14 September at 6:30pm when I’ll be chatting about my new book with fellow Transit Lounge author Catherine de Saint Phalle. This is an online event with Readings, and free to attend, though booking is required to get the Zoom link on the day. Details and booking info can be found here.

Just a reminder that the book’s official release is next week but it’s now in stock at Readings and available from the Transit Lounge website.

Happy reading. See you soon.

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Reasons to be cheerful

Congratulations to Barry on yesterday’s official release of Broken Rules. Definitely a cause for celebration. That dolphin had the right idea.
We’ll post some info on an upcoming online launch event shortly.

Barry Lee Thompson

Supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, and by Varuna, the National Writers’ House.

The sun’s shining. I saw a seal or dolphin splashing about in the Maribyrnong River this morning. It’s the first day of spring and I’ve been smelling jasmine in the local laneways for days now, even through the fabric of my facemask. And it’s publication day. Yippee! Broken Rules is officially released.

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Upcoming Anthology from Elwood Writers

‘Writers are fortunate to be able to pursue their ideas through story.’ They certainly are! This post about the upcoming anthology from Elwood Writers is from Margaret’s website. Thanks, Margaret.

WRITINGS AND MUSINGS OF MARGARET MCCAFFREY

But if a book has brought you from one place to another, so that you see something you didn’t see before, you’ve arrived at another point.’ James Baldwin, The Paris Review 1984.

My writing group, Elwood Writers, is to release its anthology in November of this year. Every Second Tuesday is a collection of fiction, memoir and poetry drawn from work we have produced, published and recorded over the last ten years. You’ll learn more about it in the coming months here, and at the Elwood Writers website.

In editing my stories for the collection, I started thinking about James Baldwin’s quote. When you write, you might start off at one place – with one idea in mind – and by the end find yourself in a completely different spot – often unexpectedly.

Writing helps me refine my thinking. I make connections that I hadn’t seen before…

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Broken Rules and Other Stories, update

From Barry’s website, news and reviews of his forthcoming book Broken Rules and Other Stories.

Barry Lee Thompson

Some early reviews of the book have appeared. There’s a write-up in Westerly, here, and one from The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, here.

The book’s release date is now 1 September, owing to the COVID-19 reschedule. There’s a chance it might come out a bit earlier, possibly late August. But the main thing is it’s printed and waiting to meet the world. For more info, visit Transit Lounge at their website, below.

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Broken Rules and Other Stories | Transit Lounge, September 2020

From Barry’s website, news of the forthcoming release of his book Broken Rules and Other Stories. We’re all looking forward to it!

Barry Lee Thompson

From derelict industrial districts, to a lonely highway diner, to the faded charm of a British seaside resort, these are stories of growing up marginalised and living in working-class England and Australia.

There are just over two months to go now until the release of Broken Rules and Other Stories (Transit Lounge). A new title for a new season. I’m looking forward to it. Why not check out the details at the Transit Lounge website, here. If it looks like it might be your cup of tea, I’d love you to add it to your September reading list.

The book is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, and by Varuna, the National Writers’ House.

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