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

Back to School

In case you missed the show this weekend, or if you want to listen again, the podcast is available on the ‘Podcasts & Recordings’ page here on the website. You’ll see the page listed over in the right-hand sidebar.

Elwood Writers

Go back to school this week as Vision Australia Radio repeats a favourite episode of its weekly literary program Cover to Cover from January 2018, featuring stories written and in some cases read on air by Elwood Writers. You can hear the show in Melbourne at 8:00pm this Friday, repeated Sunday at 1:30pm. For timings in other cities and locations around Australia, check the VAR website. And as usual the show can be heard online from anywhere in the world by using the ‘listen live’ feature on the VAR website:

https://radio.visionaustralia.org/

Happy listening!

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FURTHER TASTES FROM ADELAIDE WRITERS’ WEEK

Adelaide’s calling. We’ve been getting in the mood for Writers’ Week 2020 by revisiting WW posts from the archives. Here’s one by Jennifer from March 2018:

Elwood Writers

I had heard of English novelist Alan Hollinghurst. His novel The Swimming Pool Library was openly gay at a time when such writing was still emerging from a murky, clandestine time and it was the height of the ‘AIDS Crisis’. In 2004 Alan won the Man Booker prize with his novel The Line of Beauty.

Day Five Alan Hollinghurst 2

He was in Adelaide to discuss his latest book, The Sparsholt Affair, which, in five parts spanning the time of World War II to the 1990s, tells the story of three generations of Sparsholts and hinges on an affair that takes place in 1966. What a great name, I thought, it sounds a bit sinister.

The book starts in Oxford in October 1940, when the war had been going for just over a year. Alan pointed out that Oxford was both convenient to London and a safe distance from it. The MI5 had…

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Roomers #67 Summer 2020

Barry’s story ‘Love Always, Adrian’ is included in the current issue of Roomers, #67 Summer 2020: Will the real news please stand up?
Reblogging this post from barryleethompson.com

Barry Lee Thompson

Yesterday I got chatting with an older man in a pub. I’m not sure why I was drawn to him. Something in his eyes, perhaps. I did very little of the talking. You know me. But I listened, as I like to, as tends to be my way.

The Summer 2020 issue of Roomers magazine is available now, and includes my short story ‘Love Always, Adrian’. The publication will be available online in the new year from the Roomers website. In the meantime copies can be picked up from various locations across Melbourne, including St Kilda Library.

Roomers #67 Summer 2020

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Broken Rules and Other Stories | May 2020, Transit Lounge

The new year has got off to a cracking start with news of Barry’s short-story collection coming out in May:

Barry Lee Thompson

Broken Rules and Other Stories is my first collection of fiction. It’s being published in May by Transit Lounge.

The collection is included in The Sydney Morning Herald feature ‘The books to read in 2020’.


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.

Supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, and developed with the support of a Fellowship from Varuna, the National Writers’ House.

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Update: Special winter edition of Cover To Cover | Friday 12 & Sunday 14 July 2019

Tonight on Vision Australia Radio, hear Elwood Writers performing their stories and poetry on the theme of winter. Cover To Cover airs at 8.00pm, or you can catch the repeat on Sunday afternoon. More details and links below.

Elwood Writers

There was a problem with our calendar and we initially gave the wrong dates for the special upcoming winter-themed edition of the weekly literary program Cover To Cover on Vision Australia Radio. The program will be broadcast on Friday 12 July at 8.00pm, repeated Sunday 14 July at 1.30pm and will feature the members of Elwood Writers performing their own work. There’s poetry, including haiku, from Helen, and stories by Jennifer, Margaret, and Barry.

Cover To Cover can be heard on the radio in Australia or online from anywhere in the world. For frequency and other information and to access online listening visit the station’s website below:

https://radio.visionaustralia.org

A podcast will be available shortly after the broadcast, and we’ll add it to our podcast page here on the Elwood Writers website, so if you don’t get a chance to tune in on the day you can…

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Launch: The Sky Falls Down | An Anthology of Loss

A quick reminder about Saturday afternoon’s launch of The Sky Falls Down at Readings in Hawthorn, Victoria. Details in the post below.

Elwood Writers

Carrie Tiffany will launch The Sky Falls Down: An Anthology of Loss at Readings Bookstore, Hawthorn on Saturday 13 July at 2:00pm. The book features ‘Benjamin’ by Jennifer Bryce of Elwood Writers.

For more on the launch, visit the link below:

https://www.readings.com.au/event/book-launch-the-sky-falls-down

“This beautiful collection of writings explores the landscape of loss. It will meet you where you are. You’ll find yourself reaching for particular pieces that somehow articulate how you’re feeling, even before you’ve found the words to express it yourself … May this book become both a friend and a warm companion.” Petrea King, Quest for Life Centre.

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American Writers Review 2019 (San Fedele Press)

While parts of the northern hemisphere are currently experiencing very high temperatures, it’s midwinter here in the lower reaches of the southern hemisphere. This afternoon may not be too cold (16C), but it’s gloomy and wet and windy. Ideal conditions for being bookish. And there’s something especially soothing about finding a book that becomes a friend to accompany you through the long wintry nights.

And we’ve found such a book in the brand new American Writers Review (San Fedele Press). We’ve been excitedly dipping into this year’s edition and stumbling across numerous treasures. The bar was set high with last year’s AWR, and the team have done it again. Prepare to be unexpectedly distracted – this is certainly a book to lose yourself in.

We’re very pleased that three members of Elwood Writers have their work included in this year’s edition. You’ll find memoir from Margaret (The Poultry Farm; Yin and Yang), poetry by Helen (In Retreat; Stark against the Sky), and short fiction from Barry (The Birthday). A trifecta of Elwood Writers!

So whatever the season where you are, get hold of a copy of this book, cancel your plans for the evening, plump up your cushions and put your favourite beverage at your side, take your phone off the hook (we’re old school), and prepare to be delighted and moved for hours on end. There really is something in this pleasingly hefty volume for readers everywhere to enjoy. Open its pages and allow yourself to become lost in the many wonderful stories.

Happy reading, everyone.

My book launch

Elwood Writers’ Jennifer Bryce celebrated the official launch of her novel “Lily Campbell’s Secret” at Readings Books in Carlton earlier this week. Here’s her report on the event, from her website:

littlesmackerel

For me, the most exciting part of publishing my book was to see it there, bound, in a cover — a real book, rather than a word file or a heap of pages spewing all over the floor from my printer.

Sorrowing woman leaning on table in front of photo of her husband

But the next most exciting experience was last night, at Readings Bookshop, Carlton, where Toni Jordan launched it. Toni has a huge deadline to meet in a couple of weeks’ time, yet she had spent time thoroughly reading Lily Campbell’s Secret and looking back to her notes, to the time, in 2015, when I took her workshop, Refining Your Novel. I had naively thought that my carefully drafted novel was ready for refining! No way. It went through several iterations, but after the workshop with Toni it gained direction and purpose.

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Toni Jordan launching Lily Campbell’s Secret

Barry Lee Thompson, from my writing group, Elwood Writers Elwoodwriters.com gave a…

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