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Leonard's legacy appeal

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Leonard's legacy appeal
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Date
August 31, 2013
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Jason Steger
Literary Editor, The Age
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More red faces; going Dutch with Ellroy; tough questions; the Pulitzer effect; from Scotland, sober; a celebration for authors; and Hardie Grant's expansion.
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tiffany Illustration: Andrew Dyson.
cheap tiffany The news of Elmore Leonard's death last week brought back memories of an encounter with James Ellroy when he was in Australia to promote American Tabloid . He had a bit of spare time and as I had interviewed him before his arrival, we arranged to have lunch one day. We headed to a conspicuously empty Indian restaurant in Brunswick Street and were greeted by an enthusiastic manager. He looked at Ellroy. ''You're famous, aren't you?'' Yep, came the reply. ''You were on A Current Affair last night.'' Yep. ''You're that American crime writer, aren't you?'' Yep. ''You're … Elmore Leonard.'' Ellroy, not usually lost for words, paused for a moment. ''I don't think 'Dutch' would like to be mistaken for me,'' he replied. The loss of Dutch is a blow for all readers. Apparently, Peter Leonard, Elmore's crime fiction-writing son, is mulling over whether to complete Blue Dreams , the novel on which his father was working before he died. He told the BBC he had discussed it with the family and also Elmore's regular researcher, Greg Sutter.
A bumpy run
cheap tiffany It hasn't been the smoothest few weeks for the Children's Book Council of Australia and its annual awards. First, Adelaide's The Advertiser broke the embargo on the awards by not just a few days but a few weeks. CBC director Margaret Hamilton told Bookmarks at the time it was the most significant breach in 70 years and the council would look at its systems. The awards were duly presented on August 16 in Canberra, but there was more embarrassment to come. When winners banked their cheques they got something of a shock - they bounced. Hamilton sounded slightly nervous when Bookmarks raised the subject with her. ''It was a minor problem,'' she said, ''and it has been dealt with.'' Was it embarrassing? ''I suppose so.'' But, she rightly pointed out, ''hiccups happen in life and everyone was grateful''.
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Public concerns
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tiffany & co You can always trust people to make odd comments and ask odd questions. Take the bloke at the Melbourne Writers Festival who asked this year's Miles Franklin and PM's literary awards winner, Michelle de Kretser, about her novel Questions of Travel . Bear in mind he was talking to the author about her book, so there was some surprise when asked the question: ''Don't you think it goes on a bit?'' De Kretser handled it deftly by referring to another reader she had encountered at an event in Paris. He too spoke about the length of the book and its narrative focus that alternates between the two main characters, Laura Fraser and Ravi Mendis. ''Why didn't you just write two novels?'' he asked her. The day before, a questioner asked Junot Diaz why he said ''f---'' so much. Many in the audience seemed to cringe with embarrassment but Diaz addressed himself to the question with generosity. He had a couple of main points:
One, that he didn't find it easy to communicate about his art and he needed to be as close as possible to his ''organic self'' to do so and; two, he thought cultures of respectability inevitably left out certain conversations such as rape - they created walls round what you could and couldn't say. He told the audience at the Melbourne Writers Festival there was a need to tolerate each other's words. Cue applause.
 
Not so wondrous all round
Prizes have a variety of impacts for a writer, usually more sales and buying time to write more books. But when Junot Diaz's novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao won a Pulitzer in 2008, the most tangible effect was that his then-fiancee accelerated the process of leaving him. He phoned her to tell her about the award; she dumped him very shortly after.
 
Scots open Doors
There was a strong quota of Scottish writers at the festival last weekend. Poet and novelist John Burnside was asked the difference between Melbourne and Edinburgh. ''Here, you can actually walk from one cultural experience to another without getting drunk.'' In Edinburgh, he said, you come out of Charlotte Square (where the Edinburgh book festival is held) and you're straight into the pub. Poor old Doug Johnstone, nuclear physicist turned crime writer, was heckled about his accent when he appeared at Liner Notes, in which a variety of writers reassessed the Doors' L.A. Woman . ''Sorry, you'll have to speak a bit slower, I can't understand a word you're saying,'' came the voice out of the crowd at the Regal Ballroom in Northcote. ''I basically told her to f--- off,'' Johnstone said, recalling the incident the day after.
 
Convent's new conventions
The Australian Society of Authors held a celebratory dinner at the Abbotsford Convent on Tuesday night to mark its 50th anniversary of lobbying for authors' rights and conditions. Chair Sophie Masson, appropriately the author of 50 books, said it had been in the vanguard of establishing PLR and ELR as authors' favourite acronyms. (Public lending right and educational lending right, for the uninitiated.) Masson hoped the ASA would be able to add DLR (the digital version) to the other two soon. In his post-dinner speech, Don Watson pondered the role and identity of writers, intellectuals, journalists and public intellectuals, the last being ''a person with a microphone and an opinion'', he said, citing an American broadcaster. He advocated dropping the term.
 
Grant grabs deal
The international expansion of Melbourne publisher Hardie Grant continued this week with a deal to buy London-based food, craft and interiors publisher Quadrille. Among its authors are Antonio Carluccio and Cath Kidston. Hardie Grant set up in Britain four years ago and distributes Quadrille titles in Australia. Sandy Grant, who becomes chair of Quadrille, told Bookmarks the deal would allow Hardie Grant's books greater access to British and European markets. Quadrille's sales this year are up 3 per cent to £1.7 million ($2.9 million).
 
POETRY
Temple of the Silver Pavilion
She complains that if we keep going as we have we turn out troika mutiny, the lice to cane sugar toast, and beholden. Part author in the rot, but real estate there at least generally – even under economic strain, the development of coal deposits in Vietnam, Competition, and so forth – accrues
  at 7% per annum, what with cosmic influx powder keg Pekingese in array of front yard ambits, and monstrosity, of course – May I defend my name a moment?               Array as ambit: suck speech.
Glorious seat of soul, know now sex is houses! I grew up with chicken wire for bulwark, she matriculated with open driveways. Capitalise "Toast". Terra firma so far and few notice it's Higgins' floor, Higgs boson instead the Nile, the greatest technology subsequent not the superhighway
but the level and the sluice. Robert Wilson out for walks, public art-is-an If-only, the pyramid sound of hermitage caressing likeness by silt. I can see you! Your skin blisters anywhere but mother's land, pup, and you are blind to them raking sand into the likeness.
Corey Wakeling
 
Events
TODAY/TOMORROW Last chance to feast on books, writing and ideas at the Melbourne Writers Festival. With Marina Warner, Colm Toibin, Carrie Tiffany, Alex Miller, Jacqueline Rose, Ruth Ozeki and many more. Federation Square, city. mwf.com.au MONDAY Jennifer Harrison and Duncan Hose read their poetry. 7.30pm. Evening Star, corner York and Cecil streets, South Melbourne. TUESDAY Scottish crime writer Stuart MacBride in conversation about his work. 6.30pm. Reader's Feast, 162 Collins Street, city. $6. Bookings: readers@readersfeast.com.au ; 9662 4699. THURSDAY Sofie Laguna and Ailsa Piper discuss their writing. 6.30pm. VU Bar, Victoria University, Footscray Park Campus, Ballarat Road. $15/$8.  Bookings: bruno.lettieri@vu.edu.au ; 0422 298 643.
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