I’ve neglected you, dear friends, for an unpardonably long time. There’s a reason, though. I’ve been preparing a book of essays for publication and it’s primed and ready to go. The marvelous Ralph Wessman of Walleah Press has put it together, and as usual, he has done a brilliant job. Matt Newton, who features in my pages more than once, took the cover photo – that’s me in the window of the late and sorely missed ‘Joe’ (Jeff) King’s shanty at King’s Run on the Arthur Rive coast. Forgotten Corners is the main title of the collection, and its sub-title is Essays in Search of an Island’s Soul, which is more than a tad saccharine, but certainly conveys the sense of the book.
This is my first book-length publication since Physick: Catharsis and the Natural Things, and I want it to have just as much impact. It’s 17 years’ worth of published essays (there is one exception), reproduced in the book in order of previous publication. I was pleasantly surprised to discover, once they were assembled, how well they fitted together; how much each piece contributed to a synergy that is, I flatter myself to think, greater than the sum of the individual parts. To have been previously published may be thought a strange criterion for inclusion. It meant that I had to exclude launch, opening and rally speeches that were often superior in most respects, but there had to be some determinant of what went in and what did not. Anyway, I’m pleased with the end product, and I hope you will be, too.
It will be launched into the cluttered world of the pre-Christmas book market on 6 November, 5.30, at the soon-to-be-no-more Hobart Bookshop in Salamanca Square, and Geordie Williamson, publisher and Chief Literary Critic at The Australian will be doing the honours. I thank Geordie, Ralph, Newts, and very many other people, who I will do my best not to overlook on the night. And you – if you’re in southern Tasmania – or even in the island’s northery parts for that matter, I hope you can get along on 6/11. I’ll post up a teaser – an appetite wetter, as it were – next week.
And isn’t it great to be getting some warmish weather at last! Killed my strawberry pine, though. Ah, well…
Addendum, 4.11.19 – the not-forgotten teaser I promised
“Animals and ancestors, people and plants, the lost and the loved, the humus and the human, the artist and the artefact, the books and the birds, the sadness and the stillness, the past and the possible, the humour and the horror all find voice in Forgotten Corners.”
Thus writes James Boyce on the back cover of my soon-to-be-released book of essays. The great historian is, as always, far too generous. I’m massively in his debt. I did, too, in my earlier post, promise a teaser. For this I have chosen the following passage from ‘Books Are the New Zucchini’, the volume’s concluding essay, as it was most recently published in Island 157:
“Allied to the decluttering movement, though conceptually distinct from it, is the trend in our times – a robust trend – to decorative minimalism. Largely driven from within architecture, where a desire to leave clean lines unadorned has become pre-eminent, this is reinforced by a wish for internal planes (let’s call them walls) to remain void – blank, white, unexpressive of the personality of the people to be found within those walls. I’m tempted to write something I often say. Well, I will. Show me a house devoid of lovingly personalised artefacts, of mind-stimulating decoration, and I’ll show you a person with a mind in which nothing much is happening.”
And there’s much more provocation, too. So. Come to the launch next Wednesday, buy/read Forgotten Corners, and then come looking for me, blunt instrument in hand. You’ll still be my friend.