‘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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St Kilda Historical Society Short Story Competition

From Jennifer’s website, details of a new short-story competition she’s involved in:

littlesmackerel

New writing image 3

I’m involved in setting up an excellent new short story competition to bejudged by local Melbourne writer Lee Kofman https://leekofman.com.au/   The competition celebrates the 50th anniversary of the St Kilda Historical Society, but it isn’t necessary to be a resident of St Kilda to enter and the story doesn’t have to be historical — just some link to St Kilda. There is no entrance fee and there are good prizes: first prize in the open section is $1000 with prizes of $500 and $250 for second and third places. There is also a junior section with a first prize of $500 and $250 and $100 for second and third places. Full information is at https://stkildahistory.org.au/news-and-events/coming-events/item/348-short-story-competition

The competition closes on 7th August.

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Last Call at Adelaide Writers’ Week

As the sun sets on the 2020 Adelaide Writers’ Week, it’s time to welcome Vicky Laveau-Harvie, author of the Stella Prize-winning memoir, The Erratics.

`           In 2006 Vicky left Australia to return to her native Canada where her mother has been hospitalized for a broken hip. The mother has consistently lied to staff about her children. She only had one daughter, she has told them, and she’s dead. ‘Do I look dead,’ Vicky’s sister cries out when the nurse refuses her access. On other occasions the mother claims to have eighteen children, but not a single one of them on hand when you need them. She is most convincing in her lies, and has a way of wrapping the ‘hired help’ around her little finger.

            Vicky is travelling back and forth from the familys’ town of Ototoks to the hospital, when she spots a road sign warning of the unsafe conditions in this section of the Rocky Mountains. She seizes upon the name, the Erratics, as metaphor for the life she has led there before escaping to university. It is, she says, the perfect gift for a writer.

            After her mother’s death in 2013, Vicky Laveau-Harvie will discover that her mother’s affliction is termed ‘extreme narcissism personality disorder’, and that nothing can be done about it. Such narcissism meant that the two girls were merely extensions of the mother. Vicky’s sister becomes so incensed at her mother’s antics in the hospital that she grabs her medical chart and furiously writes: MMA. ‘What’s that?’ Vicky asks. It’s an ‘Australian-ism’ only learned yesterday, meaning ‘mad as a meat-axe’.

Vicky once asked her father why they had so much acreage around their home in Okotoks. That was the amount of space, he reckoned, that his wife needed to contain her huge personality; a personality that he has always given priority to over that of his daughters’, despite the fact that his wife has tried to starve him incrementally to death over the years.

Laveau-Harvie’s on-stage delivery at ADLWW is as smooth as the local Okotoks’ mountain range is treacherous and rocky. In her soft tones she is definite that a memoirist should never write for catharsis. You do your therapy first, she insists, and then you write.

            The Erratics twists back and forth in time, as anecdotes build to form the whole, hilarious picture of a family – or two daughters at least – in distress. It is a remarkable memoir that never loses pace, encrusted with the jewel of what is described as the author’s ‘tar-black humour’, and is an impressive credit to its literary genre.

Tags” memoir, writing, writers’ festivals, ADLWW, Vicky Laveau Harvie, Stella Prize