Our final weekend covered 3 panels that we were particularly keen to attend.

Saturday morning started off with Middle Name Winston - based around a recent biography of the Australian Prime Minister - which Sunnie has a copy of.  The first 2 speakers (Peter van Onselen and Judith Brett) discussed the phenomena of our current Prime Minister (none of us being a particular fan or supporter of the man, his policies or his politics), but both academics (one being on of the authors of the biography) reviewed his political methodologies and provided some insight into the possible future - very interesting.  Robert Manne critiqued the book itself - some areas in forensic detail.  This was a fascinating panel as it gave a number of very pointed insights into the damage being caused to our political system by the methodologies employed by politicians.

In the afternoon Graeme Blundell chatted to Peter Temple.  Mr Temple performs incredibly well at these sorts of events - he's considered, highly amusing, observational and fascinating.  One of the great questions that has always been in the back of my mind is how this recentish immigrant (early 1980's) has managed to nail the Australian venacular and sensibility so well - and after listening to him address that question it seems there's a couple of reasons.  As suspected, Mr Temple is a keen and accurate observer - he grudgingly admitted a sociologist's view perhaps.  The other factor which I hadn't taken into account (which was just plain dumb of me) is that Mr Temple comes from an incredibly similar background to the rest of us - British style family - just in South Africa rather than Australia.  There's obviously a similarity in the world view, the sense of humour and the background that reminds me once again (and well overdue it was too) that the things that separate all of us are a damn sight less than the things that join us.  He grew up reading Biggles and all the sorts of books we did - he grew up sneaking books like Peyton Place out of the adult section of the library via his mother's lending card... just like the rest of us.  He did muse, however, why it is that we as a society can't for example, greet a friend with "How nice to see you again, how have you been".  Instead we insist, pretty well universally on something more along the lines of "How have you been, great shirt, where did you steal lthat you bastard".  No argument that our version isn't meant with the same affection as the first - but we just have to work in the insult 

The good news is that there is another book on the way - following on from The Broken Shore - but not a sequel.  It will include some characters from the Broken Shore but it will not have Joe Cashin as the central character - at the moment that's one of the other investigator's.

On Sunday morning we attended Literary Drag with Michael Robotham, Adrian Hyland and Alexander McCall-Smith.  The panel was all about male authors writing female characters.  Michael's female character in the Night Ferry is a Sikh girl, Adrian's an aboriginal girl, and Alexander obviously has a number of female characters.  One of the other areas of discussion was the cross-cultural aspects of all these characters - Adrian recounting a comment from Michael who, on meeting him at the Neds (I think it was) commented that people thought he was nuts for trying to write a Sikh woman - but Adrian (attempting a female aboriginal character) must be nuts.   Interestingly all 3 authors live in female dominated households - even the rooster in Adrian's household got the chop - so you have to wonder if that was part of it - but ultimately what came out of the panel is that they are 3 authors with (again) an enormous capacity for observation and empathy.  All 3 very nice blokes, all 3 very considered and thoughtful with their fiction writing.

Off to have our books signed by Michael and Adrian, a sit in the sun and a yack with Adrian and Sunnie headed off for a day with family.  A wander into the city for chocolate purchases in case the plane was delayed for Helen and we delivered her to the airport for her plane.

Home to a very quiet house, a seriously annoyed puppy due to lack of victims and the Melbourne Writers Festival was over again for another year.

Cream crackered as predicted but so pleased we went.

These festivals teach you such a lot - whether it's the panels you sit in on where you learn new insights into human nature; or the spontaneous discussions that start up within the group or with the total stranger that you find yourself standing beside at the coffee queue later; through to the reading / the books ... the marvellous fantastic, entertaining, informative or luscious books.

If you want a picture to take away - image us wandering around a theatre, clutching a recently signed book - mumbling ..... my precious.....


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Submitted by Karen on Sat, 06/01/2007 - 09:07 pm