Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tales of a Sydney Summer Evening

The NSW Writers' Centre was the venue for the filmmakers of Sydney to assemble for Christmas drinks last Friday night. Somehow I received an invitation as one of the Twiteraity. The centre is located in the grounds of the former Rozelle Hospital, is a sandstone building. There are beautiful grounds with flowering trees, a veranda perfect for drinks on a warm summer's night and book lined rooms. Part of the site is occupied by the Sydney College of the Arts.

It was easy to tell who were the budding actors: the younger more stylishly dressed with business cards ready at hand (one I met was a part time property speculator, who having finished their NIDA course had one a scholarship to the NY Actors School at LA). It was more difficult to tell the editors from directors and writers. People would come up with a mindful of ham and a glass or Rose and say "are you a director or editor"? It was too difficult to explain I was a computer programmer, so I settled for saying "Writer: my latest book was released last week at an event with the Prime Minister", which stuck the right tone.

After confessing to doing web design I was asked for advice by a media PR person. I confused them by recommending they get a blog, as their target audience are journalists who have no interest in pretty layout,: they just want text. I had to explain that I did useful web sites, designed to communicate information, unlike those used in the creative industries (as an example the style over substance web site of the Australian Directors Guild with markup errors, accessibility problems and incrorrectly sized images). Only later did I realise ADG was one of the hosts of the party (it would be very difficult to work this out from their web site, or discover anything at all from their web site). As well as ADG, also hosting were Australian Guild of Screen Composers (AGSC), Australian Screen Editors Guild (ASE), Australian Screen Sound Guild (ASSG) and Women in Film and Television NSW (WIFT) and the all have much better web sites than ADG.

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

A shack from North Queensland, used as accommodation for cane cutters has been shipped to the Finnish Emigration Museum, to commemorate the role of Finnish immigrants in the sugar cane industry. However, as the play Summer of the Seventeenth Doll details, Australians returning from the cane fields to the south were treated as immigrants. Thursday night's opening performance of Lawler's 1995 play at the New Theatre in Sydney shows the relevance of the messages of alienation in 2008.

See also:

Books and plays by Ray Lawler

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Peter Carey's Laptop

Greetings from the State Library of Victoria where the free exhibition The Independent Type: Books and Writing in Victoria is on until 25 October 2009. This has artefacts from Victoria's publishing history. There are Events, an Audio Tour, Education Resource and a Touring Exhibition.

Melbourne is the second UNESCO City of Literature, so the library can perhaps be forgiven for trying just a little too hard to make the claim for Melbourne's literary status. Most interesting to me were the differing technologies used by Peter Carey, Henry Handel Richardson, Tony Wheeler and Ern Malley.These include the typewriter used by Henry Handel Richardson for The Getting of Wisdom, that of Tony Wheeler's original "South East Asia on a Shoestring" (first of the Lonely Planet books), the Apple Mac Powerbook 3400 Peter Carey used to write "True History of the Kelly Gang" and the telegrams discussing the Ern Mally publication hoax.

The 27 minute Audio Tour is narrated by Ramona Koval, from ABC Radio National's The Book Show. It is available free as 13 mp3 files online in a podcast.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Web of Australia LiteratureAustralia literature trapped in the web

Cover of Gilgamesh: A Novel By Joan LondonOn my travels through Greece recently, I met Australian Joan London. As I had just came from Turkey, she mentioned she had written a book touching on Armenia. It was not until then, I realized this was the Australian author of Gilgamesh (2001), which the UK The Guardian gave a very favorable review of.

In the first posting of his new, and very insightful, Canberra Times Blog, Colin Steele discusses the positive and negative effects of the web on authors. One aspect Colin did not mention is the effect on how books are sold. Australian authors suffer from being in a small sub-category of literature. This can make their books hard to find online.

In my work as an ICT consultant I advise companies about how to make their products and services visible on the web. Perhaps I should be offering this service to authors as well. In looking for Joan's books, I noticed a few problems:
  1. Author's name: "Joan London" is not sufficiently unique. While a search will find her books, it will also find references to people named "Joan" in the city of London.
  2. Book names: There are a lot of books with Gilgamesh in the title. As an example looking for "London Gilgamesh" finds a restaurant in London, as well as the book. Looking for her latest, The Good Parents, in Amazon, will big up a lot of self help books for parents if you use just "good parents" for the search.
  3. Publishing location: A book published in Australia is not listed, or not listed as quickly, in online catalogs, as ones from the US and UK.
None of this would be a problem for a trained librarian, like Colin, or for someone who knew exactly what they were looking for. But for the average person doing a web search for a book, or author, they heard mentioned, it can be the difference between finding, or not finding the book and therefore resulting in a sale or no sale.

Enlightened publishers can also make the web search process easier. As an example, Grove Press, have permitted the full text of Gilgamesh to be searched, via Amazon.com. This allows customers to find the book in a search and for me to be able to find there are 36 pages with references to Armenia and see exactly what they were. This facility is most useful for non-fiction, but can also allow a potential reader to find a book they may be interested in.

See also: Australian Authors, Joan London.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Song downloads selling in France

For Australia Day 2007 I created Amazon store of books about Australia and by Australians in French and Australians in German. I sent a list to the Australian Embassy in Paris and Berlin. These books have sold reasonably well, such as Arthur Upfield's Du crime au bourreau. But what has been more popular are travel DVD's such as Faut pas rêver : L'Australie. La grande traversée. Also recently individual music downloads have become popular, particularly AC/DC's Back in Black, Blow Up Your Video and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. I wonder what impression this gives of Australia, with 1930s views of racial relations outback Australia in the Upfield books and 1970s rock music from AC/DC. ;-)


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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Waltzing Matilda

On Sunday the Song Company six person vocal ensemble performed at the Hunter Baillie Memorial Presbyterian Church, Annandale, Sydney. They started with medieval music and moved up to the present day, then for a finale sang Australia's unofficial national anthem, Waltzing Matilda in four languages: English, French, German, and Queenslander. They will be featuring this in a Songs of Oz series of concerts in 2008.

Some samples of their music are free online, CDs can be purchased direct from the Song Company, and some music is available from Amazon.com.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Australia in English and Japanese

Japanese edition of Peter Carey True History of the Kelly GangI wrote Friday, January 26, 2007 in Australian Authors Abroad for Australia Day:
... for Australia Day I created Amazon store of books about Australia ... in French and ... German.
That worked okay, so I did one in English and Japanese as well. Japanese is a lot harder than French and German as the Author's names as well as the book titles are translated. But I managed to find Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang as ケリー・ギャングの真実の歴史 by ピーター ケアリー and Patrick White's Voss as ヴォス by パトリック ホワイト.

While it may not be great literature, I felt obliged to include Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter in the English version.

ps: See also Australia on Video.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Australian Authors Abroad for Australia Day

German edition of Arthur Upfield bookA recent documentary "In Search of Bony" (SBS TV 25 January, 2007) made the point that the author Arthur Upfield was almost forgotten in Australia, but still sold in France and Germany.

I did a quick search and found Upfield's books books in French and German. This sparked my interest, so for Australia Day I created Amazon store of books about Australia and by Australians in French and Australians in German.

The Australian Embassy in Paris had a list of popular Australian authors, so I included them. Some of them were only available in French, others in German, some in English. Here are the ones I cluld find in all three languages:

AuthorFrench TitleGerman TitleEnglish Title
Murray BailEucalyptusEukalyptusEucalyptus
Peter CareyVéritable Histoire du Gang KellyDie wahre Geschichte von Ned KellyTrue History of the Kelly Gang
Bruce ChatwinLe Chant des PistesTraumpfadeSong Lines
David MaloufJe me souviens de Babylone Jenseits von BabylonRemembering Babylon
Patrick WhiteVoss VossVoss

I sent a list to the Australian Embassy in Paris and Berlin.

German edition of Eucalyptus by Murray Bail with Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe on the coverps: The German edition of Eukalyptus has Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe on the cover. But the film adaption of the book featuring them was "postponed".

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