French Film Festival: Non Fiction

“This film, directed by Olivier Assayas will have special appeal to writers. There are animated discussions about the nature of fiction, the future of print media — everyone huddled over wine and finger food. I felt very much at home!”
A recent film review from Little Smackerel, Elwood Writer Jennifer’s website:

littlesmackerel

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This film, directed by Olivier Assayas will have special appeal to writers. There are animated discussions about the nature of fiction, the future of print media — everyone huddled over wine and finger food. I felt very much at home!

Near the end of the film there is a reference to words from Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s The Leopard: Everything must change so that everything can stay the same. And indeed, this can be seen as the main premise of the film — most significantly as a response to discussions about the future of literature, but also as an underpinning to the lives of the main characters in the film. Should the publishing company focus on E-Books and audiobooks? There is an amusing suggestion that Juliette Binoche would be a good person to read a particular audiobook: Binoche plays the part of Selena in the film.

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Leonard , played by…

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Adelaide Festival Writers’ Week 2019 | Guest post by Tony Thomas

Many thanks to Tony Thomas for sharing his experience with us — Jennifer.

Sat 2 March 2019     Esi Edugyan interviewed by Geordie Williamson

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Esi Edugyan (pronounced Ed-oó-jun) is a Canadian writer of Ghanaian descent whose third novel, Washington Black, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year – and deservedly so I thought when I read it last year. She read to us the impressive opening pages where the protagonist, the child George Washington Black, a slave on a sugar plantation in 1830s Barbados, describes the arrival of his new master, the evil (it turns out) Erasmus Wilde, but here passing by dressed in splendid white, together with his brother Titch, a scientific experimenter, who becomes Wash’s mentor and protector.

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The first part of the book deals with the horrors of slavery, and these scenes are suitably horrific, but it’s the little details which strike us as absolutely real, such as the large mysterious covered object which Titch brings with him (it turns out to be an early airship) “bigger than the whipping stone” in the field. Esi said her idea for the novel started with an interest in the Tichborne Claimant. [Historical aside: Lady Tichborne refused to believe that her son and heir Roger had been lost at sea, and instead credited stories that he had been rescued and come to Australia. She advertised widely in Australian newspapers for news of him. A Wagga butcher eventually put up his hand as Roger, and Lady Tichborne asked her retired black servant, living in Sydney, to interview the claimant. The interview was inconclusive, but “Roger” was accepted as the heir, went to England and lived the good life for a while, until he was tried for perjury and imprisoned. Patrick White was also influenced by this story in his late novel, The Twyborn Affair, which however takes off on a very different tack.] Esi instead was fascinated by the life story of the interviewing servant, a former butler, who had been taken from the West Indies as a slave, had worked as a freeman for years as chief of a household, and whose life thus had been totally turned around in wholly unexpected circumstances. This then also became the core of Wash’s story in Washington Black.

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The Tichborne Affair

Esi said that in writing she always starts with character, that this is what fascinates her in the first place – but then of course, around the third draft she told us, the need for shape arises, a story has to take place as well, and in Wash’s case it was the story of a life being turned around completely. And not just one of being (eventually) released from slavery, but also a life of science, because Wash is endowed with a natural talent, a genius, for scientific drawing, especially of marine life, which comes naturally to him without training, and which becomes the most important part of his life. Science, she says, “was a way of engaging with the world without the need for solid relationships”. “Wash sees it as a benign equaliser”. And she wanted to focus on the idea of slavery not just as an unjust deprivation of freedom, not just lost bodies, but as something which causes a vast amount of lost potential, of which Wash’s genius can stand as example. Where are the great black scientists of the past, she asked: they hardly exist. So then her story developed into one of a restlessness of narrative, with many shifting locales after the slavery section at the opening, to the US, the far north in Nova Scotia, eventually to England, where Wash and his colleagues create the first aquarium and where in a shed in the gardens of a house, Wash has the first place that he can call home – very much a picaresque, she said in conclusion.

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The House In The Sky | Vision Australia Radio

Barry has asked us to reblog a post about his short story The House In The Sky being read on Vision Australia Radio’s Cover To Cover program this Friday, repeated Sunday. All details are in the original post, here:

Barry Lee Thompson

My short story The House In The Sky will be read by Tim McQueen on Cover To Cover and broadcast on Vision Australia Radio this Friday, 2 November, at 8 PM (AEST), repeated Sunday 4 November at 1.30 PM (AEST).

Cover To Cover is produced and presented by Tim McQueen, and can be heard on the radio in Australia, or streamed online from anywhere in the world.

Radio frequency and other details and an online listening link can be found here:

https://radio.visionaustralia.org

The program will be available as a podcast shortly after broadcast.

Happy listening.

Barry

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The Birthday | Vision Australia Radio

Here’s the podcast of the 5 October edition of Cover To Cover from Vision Australia Radio, featuring Mike Cannon reading Barry’s story The Birthday:

Barry Lee Thompson

My short story The Birthday was read recently on Vision Australia Radio’s weekly Cover To Cover literary program. The podcast of that week’s program is available here:

https://varadio.podbean.com/e/cover-to-cover-episode-232-5th-october-2018/

Cover To Cover is produced and presented by Tim McQueen. The Birthday was read by Mike Cannon.

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THE OUTSIDER AND THE MEURSAULT INVESTIGATION

A recent posting from Jennifer’s website:

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In Camus’s The Outsider, a nameless Arab is killed on a beach in Algeria. He is killed by Meursault, a man who seems to be totally lacking emotion. The first words of the novel, narrated by Meursault are: ‘Mother (or Maman – translated from French) died today.’ Stark and devoid of grief. Much later in the book, Meursault happens to be walking on a hot beach, holding a gun.

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He sees the Arab man and kills him. My sense was that it was just because the man happened to be there and Meursault happened to be holding a gun – some say it was because the sun was in his eyes. There is no apparent motive. Callous indifference to Arab life? It was 1942, a time of resistance to the French rule that would continue until 1962.

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Algerian money, 1942

It seemed to me that the killing was utterly…

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THE FINDING

Here’s some very short fiction from Barry Lee’s website:

Barry Lee Thompson

… closed his eyes, slipped into a place. Into an easy unfettered place where a meadow slopes gradually down to a river. A narrow stretch of river through a town, old town, a university town. It’s summer, it’s evening. The air pale and yellow, viscous, an end of day light, settling. Trees, old buildings around. Medieval? He’s no expert. There’s a chapel. Means nothing, beyond its architectural beauty, compelling lines against the sky. The whole is more a sensation, a relief, but sometimes these call to be described and this is how it could be described. There’s not much more to say. An elusive episode. Something else. A word came to mind: infused. The yellow, perhaps, suggested the word. As if the air were infused with a gentle dye. Suffused might be more accurate, he’s not sure, but that wasn’t the word that came. What else? That’s it, really. Nothing…

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Paco Rabanne, take 2

A recently posted piece of short fiction from Barry’s blog:

Barry Lee Thompson

A one page ad in a glossy magazine: image of a man sitting in a brightly lit theatre, looking towards an empty stage that’s framed by deep red curtains. There’s no one else around. His feet are up on the back of one of the seats in front. The man’s in casual daytime clothes. He’s wearing the fragrance that’s being advertised, thinking over the events of the afternoon. He’s been rehearsing the actors in his new play. This is Sweden, perhaps, and the theatre is in the middle of a small Swedish town. But the actors, they’re not very good. Or they’re not quite right, although they were the best from the auditions. He feels differently to yesterday. Not one of the actors has given any indication of really understanding the material, and he’s worried that its message might be getting lost. If only he’d stayed in the city where…

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LOVELESS

“Loveless”, from Jennifer’s blog:

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Apparently the title of this Russian film comes closer to ‘Non Love’ than ‘Loveless’. There is absolutely not one speck of love. The beginning is arrestingly bleak: slow shots of a snow-covered river bank with piercingly clashing splinters of music. When will we see some life? I wondered.

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After quite some time we see a brief shot of some ducks on the river with their young, then the camera dwells on an unwelcoming concrete building with a flag over the door. We wait – and at last, people – it is a school and the children burst out of the doors at the end of a school day. One of these children is 12 year-old Alyosha.

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This portentous opening immediately reminded me of another Russian movie I saw in 2012: Elena. At the time I described the opening: ‘slow-paced and tense, with wonderful use of sounds – to start…

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Plumbline

“I was half way through my MA thesis, or so I thought …”
In this new post from her own blog, Elwood Writer Margaret recounts the first sighting of her plumbline.

WRITINGS AND MUSINGS OF MARGARET MCCAFFREY

I was half way through my MA thesis, or so I thought, when my teacher asked: “Margaret, what is your plumbline?” I had no idea – a) what my plumbline was, or b) what a plumbline was.

I knew I wanted to write about my torn relationship with my veteran father who’d died in 1976. But what was my narrative arc, apart from a chronological journey to recover our failed relationship?

What was my plumbline?

One weekend I attended a workshop on ‘Plot’. The teacher explained that plot is different to story. Plot is why something happens. To paraphrase E.M. Forster: story is, “The king died. The queen died.” But plot is, ‘The King died. The queen died of a broken heart.” This happened because that happened.

How did plotting help my story?

I had written about seeingJack’s Daughters”, a play in 1983 about five children and…

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Playful Arrangements | from Roomers #59

From Barry’s website, Playful Arrangements, a short piece of fiction that originally appeared in issue #59 of Roomers magazine:

Barry Lee Thompson

He’s up with the birds, usually. Before them, even. Reeling at the shock of cold water splashes on pasty skin. This is always where the day starts: staring out into the sky, into the depths of dark yard silence. Waiting for light to peel over the edges. In this way, he considers the things done the day before, and how these activities might easily become those for the day ahead. He could visit once again the strangers who live by the bridge. He could stare along the river’s reach, towards the lumbering shipyards, and at the fishermen dotting the rocks. Or instead he could sit home, thinking. All alone. Thinking forwards and backwards. Circling around all the things that have to be done, and then all the things that could be done, but in the end not doing any of them.

It was the Sunday of the long weekend. The…

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