Sophie Cunningham writes a year in the city’s life, a year that takes us from the heatwave that culminated on Black Saturday when temperatures soared to 47 degrees to the destructive deluge of a hailstorm.
She walks through Melbourne’s oldest suburb to its largest market, she goes to the footy and to the comedy festival, she talks publishing and learns how to use a letterpress.
Along the way she journeys deep into her own recollections of the city she grew up in, and tells stories from its history: the theft of Picasso’s Weeping Woman, the Hoddle Street massacre, William Barak’s trek from Healesville, the Westgate Bridge Disaster, the high drama of the 1970 and 2009 AFL grand finals and the Market Murders of the sixties.
She strolls by Melbourne’s rivers and creeks while considering the history of the wetlands and river that sit at Melbourne’s heart. She clambers through the drains that lie beneath. For it is water the corralling of it, the excess of it, the squandering of it, the lack of it that defines Melbourne’s history, its present and its future.
About the Author
Sophie Cunningham is a Melbourne-based writer and editor. She was publisher at McPhee Gribble/Penguin for two years and Trade Publisher at Allen & Unwin for ten, where she was known for innovative fiction and non-fiction.
In 2004, her own first novel, Geography, was published. In 2005 she was an Asialink resident in Sri Lanka, which provided research material for her novel Bird, which follows the life of a singer-actress who became a Buddhist nun. She’s working on her third novel, This Devastating Fever, about Leonard Woolf’s time as a colonial administrator in Ceylon. She has also written several pieces of journalism and travel writing.
In 2008 she became the editor of Meanjin and aims to make the literary magazine ‘lighter, more fun, but I don’t mean lightweight.” She also aims to establish a younger audience for the magazine.
About the Contributor
John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for the last twenty years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Head of Product and Chief Buyer at booktopia.com.au.