Monday, September 25, 2006

Texas saying

On holidays I came across the Texan saying "Hat but no cattle" which is a sharper form of talking the talk but not walking the walk.

Kenny and the Australian language

I was pleased to watch "Kenny" going to Broome - and coming back. Perfect pitch for a mockumentary. Kenny is the master of Oz blokey language. Some Kenny gems: "busier than a one-armed bricklayer in Baghdad", "sillier than a bum full of smarties", " this will be around longer than religion".

It's good to see Kenny's weekly takings on the increase. Most films start big and shrink but word-of-mouth is boosting Kenny along. Australia v Hollywood?

On blokey language there's always Mark Latham's "a conga line of suckholes" - though that lacks a certain warmth in style. I like Catherine Lumby's "It's typical Latham and it's ridiculous" and Tony Abbott's "I'm happy to let Mark Latham's words stand for themselves."

Interesting to discover that there aren't just metrosexuals but also CUBs or Cashed Up Bogans - the Bogan dollar is challenging the Pink dollar - the V8 ute is "working man's sport's car".

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Accidental

Shane McCauley slammed Ali Smith's book in the West Australian. (Nice photo of Rod Moran, bookpages editor, that the newspaper run along the top of the book pages - every books editor should have distinguished whiskers.) It was a Whitbread winner but sometimes I wonder if literary judges tastes are too esoteric and have little to do with what an intelligent is looking for in a book. (As an editor you're supposed to have the ideal reader in mind - What if you're ideal reader is the judge of a literary award?) I've not read the book but it was chosen as a book for my reading group until Keith weighed in with this comment; "I have read the first chapter of 'The Accidental' (35 pages out of about 300). I think it is pointless crap. I won't be reading any more. I might have a go at 'On Beauty' to fill the void."


I'm just back from Broome. It's an extraordinary and exciting place - a thriving cultural centre. For me it was very Westaustralian and far from the eastern seaboard, which is the Australia I know. It felt like the opposite Australian pole to temperate white established Melbourne. (Sidebar: A banker friend said 30% of the Australian economy is now in WA.) While we were there we caught up with Suzie, Rebecca and Adrian of Magabala. A different publishing experience to black dog but with much in common as an independent Australian publisher mapping the Australian culture - lots of the same frustrations and satisfactions - and some different ones. There are actually three publishers in Broome for a population (according to the guidebook) of 12,000 - and two printers. And the publishing has a strong emphasis on children's books.

Marie Gamble runs a very excellent bookshop at the Kimberley Bookshop - the deeply polished floor boards and old-fashioned windows, Broome-style, made it a stylish and cool retreat from the heat with lots of yummy books to peruse. The bookshop was begun by nuns - Anne Coombs and Susan Varga's 'Broometime' has the story.

Monday, September 11, 2006

on holiday

I'm on holiday for the next two weeks so my blogger will slow down (or maybe stop) till the 25th.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I think, as do many others, that publishing is a form of gambling. On one level it is just plain old river boat gambling. But it is an enticingly creative form of gambling. I'd never bet on a horse (well not often, apart from the Melbourne Cup) or on a hand of cards but the thrill of backing a new book or writer or idea of a book sends a nice chilly thrill right up and down my spine. Maybe I'd be a better publisher if I also knew how to bet on horses…

Monday, September 04, 2006

editor's role

Sometimes I think the editor's role is to stop the author falling in love with his and her own words and encourage them to want the reader to fall in love with his or her words.