Booktopia’s John Purcell amongst the big names appearing at the 2015 Bendigo Writers Festival

Booktopia’s resident Book Guru and bestselling author John Purcell heads up an all-star lineup at this year’s Bendigo Writers Festival.

John Marsden, Bob Brown, Alice Pung, Graeme Simsion, John Clarke, Cate KennedyRobert Dessaix, Don Watson, Ellie MarneyLatika Bourke, David Astle, David M Henley, Max Gillies, Paddy O’Reilly, Robyn Davidson, Tariq Ali and The Gourmet Farmer’s Matthew Evans are just a few of the big names featuring in this year’s Bendigo Writers Festival.

Now in its fourth year, the Bendigo Writers Festival has become famous for the close access readers can experience with some of literature’s freshest thinkers, taking place in the heart of Bendigo’s View Street arts precinct.

The festival features more than 70 events in five venues across the August 8 and 9 weekend, from 9.30am on Saturday through to 5.30pm on Sunday.

For more details and to see the full program, go to www.bendigowritersfestival.com.au

heading

The 35th Annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest

They love it when you call them Big Papa.

Wally Collins is congratulated after winning the 2014 Papa title.

Wally Collins wins the 2014 Papa title.

Around this time every year Key West is set upon by mature, heavy-set men with full beards in khakis.

Why?

It’s time for the annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest!

Hemingway lived in Key West during the 1930s and local bar Sloppy Joe’s, where Hemingway would often be found holding up the bar, has been holding the contest for an incredible 35 years. Around 125 entrants are expected to jostle for ‘The Papa’.

Sloppy Joe’s says it is “looking for mature, heavy-set men with a full beard”, but adds that “several young lookalikes have participated, and some have actually made it to the finals.”

It warns contestants: “Know your competition. The lookalikes arrive in Hemingway garb. Some wear safari outfits, khakis, and even the excruciatingly hot fisherman’s woollen turtleneck sweater. Some bring their own cheering squad. Most contestants admit (confidentially) that they may never win, but return year after year for the fellowship.”

The lookalike competition is just one part of a week long Papa-palooza that rains down upon at Key West every year, with Marlin fishing and short story competitions, readings, book signings and a “running of the bulls” event.

Click here for all things Hemingway

The 2015 Sydney Writer’s Festival In Focus – Andrew’s Highlights

Can you hear that?

Pages being briskly bookmarked, notepads scribbled on frantically, publicists sweating over author schedules…

The Sydney Writer’s Festival is nearly here!

And because I’m getting all excited, I’ve picked out some of my highlights for the 2015 edition, take a gander. For more details head to www.swf.org.au

Continue reading

Women of Steel – Caroline Baum on the 2015 Newcastle Writers Festival

CaroNow in its third year, The Newcastle Writers Festival’s steely strength has little to do with this city’s industrial past and everything to do with the iron will of its founding director, Rosemarie Milsom. She wanted a writers festival and she got herself one, virtually single handed. This year, she has eighty volunteers, and a program that’s expanded from two to three days, but she’s still not being paid a salary and does the job part time, fitting it around her full time job as a journalist – oh and a mother of three. Steely indeed.

The festival venue is City Hall, a grand old building sandstone rabbit warren with a superb high ceilinged concert hall and lots of other rooms of various sizes for more intimate events. This weekend it was thronging with an estimated five thousand readers who came to hear one hundred and thirty writers on every conceivable subject. The line up included Les Murray, Don Watson, Marion Halligan, Bob Brown, Favel Parrett, Brooke Davis and PM Newton, to mention just a few.

I was lucky enough to chair the opening night panel on The Book That Changed Me, featuring Helen Garner, Michael Robotham and Jessica Rudd. It was a great way to kick off the festival, a reminder that all writers, without exception, start off as readers.

Caroline Baum talks to Helen Garner

Caroline Baum talks to Helen Garner

Helen and Michael had one book in common, Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. I had expected that she might talk about Janet Malcolm, who has been such a significant influence on her non fiction writing, but as always, Helen was unpredictable in the best sense; her most intriguing choice was one most of the audience, including myself, would have been unfamiliar with : an American poet called Charles Reznikoff who wrote a book called Testimony based on hundreds of hours of court evidence. The affinity with her own work seems clear.

Michael Robotham told a wonderful anecdote about writing a fan letter to his hero Ray Bradbury author of his choice, the dystopian classic Fahrenheit 451 and getting a letter back form his daughter, inviting him to lunch to meet the author. Sadly, Bradbury died just before the encounter. Michael’s other selections had several things in common: they were American, and they were men: Steinbeck and Fitzgerald.

He earned a tongue in cheek reprimand from Jessica Rudd when he admitted that he hated Jane Austen when he first read her (’ leave the stage’ she mock-chided him). Rudd recalled how reading Joe Klein’s Primary Colours set her course to write political fiction.But she was adamant that satire was not her style: while much of the genre is characterised by cynicism, she remains an idealist about what politics, and political fiction can achieve. (And yes, there’s a third Ruby book in the works).

Her other favourite book of the moment is Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman, and she confessed to thinking about writing the author a fan letter. Encouraged by Michael’s positive response from Bradbury, she just might. Garner’s experience as a fan was not so glowing: she’d had the briefest of encounters with her idol, Janet Malcolm, at a smart party in New York, while Malcolm was holding someone else’s baby, but the opportunity for a meeting of minds was sabotaged by another famous writer. Malcolm’s loss, I say.

***

Newcastle-Writers-Festival-BannerThe next day, the juiciest revelatons to be had were from Blanche d’Alpuget in candid conversation with Meredith Jaffe, Books Editor of The Hoopla. Perhaps because it was a small audience, perhaps because Jaffe made her feel comfortable with considered questions, d’Alpuget said some intriguing things about her father, who was, among other things a boxer; ‘ He was so frightening I had no fear of other men at all’ she said.

Emboldened by her candour, I asked why if she found writing to be such a blissful pleasure, (she had described it as divine) she had given it up for over fifteen years before her recent foray into historical fiction with The Young Lion and its sequel, The Lion Rampant.’ I decided to devote myself completely to love,’ she answered.

Steel comes in all grades and strengths.

—————————————-

Caroline Baum is Booktopia’s Editorial Director, for which she produces The Booktopia Buzz. She also writes for the Sydney Morning Herald, Qantas in flight magazine, Slow Magazine, SBS Feast and other publications about books, food, travel, the arts, and aspects of contemporary life.

230914carolinebaumbuzzheader616+x123Check out Caroline’s Books of the Month in The Booktopia Buzz

Catch Booktopia’s Editorial Director Caroline Baum at this weekend’s Newcastle Writer’s Festival

CaroThe 2015 Newcastle Writer’s Festival has brought an enviable line up together, headlined by Booktopia’s own Caroline Baum hosting two blockbuster events with some of Australia’s most respected writers.

If you’re in the area and fancy a literary weekend, head to www.newcastlewritersfestival.org.au for more details.

And for Caroline Baum fans (aren’t we all) make sure you check out her big events over the weekend.

The Book That Changed Me

  • Authors Newcastle

    Friday, March 20, 2015

  • 7:00pm – 8:30pm
  • City Hall Concert Hall

Caroline Baum talks to bestselling authors Helen Garner, Jessica Rudd & Michael Robotham about the books that shaped them into the people they are today

Tickets: $35

Click here for more details

Helen Garner: The Lives of Others

  • HelenGarner+(2)

    Saturday, March 21, 2015

  • 6:00pm 7:00pm
  • City Hall Concert Hall

Award-winning writer Helen Garner spent eight years documenting the infamous case of Robert Farquharson, the father who drove his car into a dam, drowning his three young boys. She talks to Caroline Baum about the challenges of writing her highly acclaimed account, This House of Grief.

Tickets: $25

Click here for more details

A Glimpse at this year’s Melbourne Writer’s Festival

Salman-Rushdie1Off the back of this year’s sellout Sydney Writer’s Festival, the 2014 installment of the Melbourne Writer’s Festival is set to become one of the biggest in recent memory with a cavalcade of extraordinary talents.

Literary icons Salman Rushdie and Dave Eggers will be joined by rising stars NoViolet Bulawayo, Alissa Nutting and Willy Vlautin, while everyone’s favourite astronaut Chris Hadfield will also be at the festival, hopefully taking requests.

The local scene is also well represented with Helen Garner, Hannah Kent, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Sonya Hartnett, Favel Parrett, Sian Prior, John Safran and many more lined up to talk about all things bookish.

For the full program and ticket details go to www.mwf.com.au.

Don’t miss Booktopia’s Finest at the 2014 Sydney Writer’s Festival

Looking for things to see at The Sydney Writer’s Festival?

Come along and hear some experts from Booktopia chat about the wonderful world of books…

Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 15,835 other followers

%d bloggers like this: