Sydney-Wien

It’s been over a month since I’ve blogged. For some reason I like to be at my desk and don’t like blogging on the run. This saves me from having to upgrade and buy the latest tech stuff I can’t afford, and anyway, I don’t want to put my trusty hamster out of a job. He’s so good at keeping that wheel turning, specially while I’m blocked.

When I planned my trip to Sydney for graduation and the first family reunion in ages, I did what they tell you to do on a plane – put your own mask on first before attending to others. This may seem a little selfish, but … So instead of starting my Sydney stay with my 60th birthday and ending it with my PhD graduation, I booked the tickets for hubby and me to begin with graduation and culminate with my very selfish choice of the Sydney Writers’ Festival. I rang Newcastle writing mate, Patrick Cullen, whom I’d met in Cork at last year’s International Conference on the Short Story in English to hang out with me at the SWF. (Patrick’s story collection, What Came Between, will be out soon.) Interesting title – as something did come between and had to take priority over the SWF.

My Mum had had a fall at Easter and was in hospital and the rest of my time in Sydney was spent on the mission impossible of settling her into a nice and safe place. Mission accomplished. The moral is – had I not had the selfish SWF plan, my timing would have been awry – karma? You bet.

The SWF has not left my thoughts. Nor has the wonderful world of the short story. How often had I heard that in Australia and elsewhere, no way can the short story fly. And now – just look at it go. Tania Hershman of The Short Review gets an Orange mention; Alex Keegan, venerable writing Boot Camp sergeant goes Ballistics; Petina Gappah from Switzerland shows the way to change; Nam Le beats novels to rake in Oz prizes and Alice Munro nudges Carey out of the running. The short story is back – it was never absent.

Now to get more Aussie short-story writers and critics to the next International Conference on the Study of the Short Story in English to be held in Toronto. And after that, why not have the Conference take place in Australia and demonstrate not only the universality of the genre, but that you can’t keep a good story down? And maybe the SWF can swing such a conference in on her coattails … Just maybe and what if?

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