February 2nd, 2010

Baggage

If I say "Today's News" will you promise not to go "Oh No!" Some people live their lives in soap opera, I live mine in pantomime. I can laugh and sing and throw things at people that way.

Today's news is actually rather wonderful. It's the first rousing "Life will be good - hang in there" chorus. I think it's at the end of the first act of a 4 act pantomime, but I can't be sure. Australia doesn't do many pantos any more, and I've lost the panto-plot.

I have, in my hot little desktop, thanks to much work by Elizabeth Fitzgerald and Andrew McKiernan while I have been indisposed, an electronic uncorrected proof of Baggage (Eneit Press). If you have a magazine or other place and want to review and don't want to wait until April, all you have to do is persuade me (or, if you think I'm a hard sell, try Elizabeth or Sharyn, our totally awesome publisher) to email you a copy.

For those who are confused about Baggage because of all the Jane Austen and Zombie tales (You piece of work! You baggage! I saw how slyly you peeked at Mr D'Arcy's great-great-grandfather!), it's a speculative fiction anthology that examines the stories and other cultural baggage that migrants have brought with us to Australia over the last 200 odd years. Nothing Jane Austen about it.

I let my prospective writers know that:

"I don't just want to know about ghosts and memories or about werewolves and unicorns and fairies. I want to know who the aliens were and how they lived. I want to know if gates to other worlds were opened or closed by the migrants' mindsets. I want to know all the things I haven't yet noticed and need to understand. I want stories that explore complexities and layers and change the way we see ourselves. I don't want yet another anthology of post-colonial preaching and I do want something oddly Australian."

Now I have a table of contents. I look at it and blink and think how very lucky I am. Not only do I have thirteen astonishing stories by favourite writers, they also do exactly what I asked for. I've read these stories more times than I can say and I want to read every single one of them again, instantly.

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts and I love each and every one of those parts. This is my dream anthology and I can't believe it's sitting on my desktop.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Vision Splendid — K.J. Bishop
Telescope — Jack Dann
Hive of Glass — Kaaron Warren
Kunmanara – Somebody Somebody — Yaritji Green
Manifest Destiny — Janeen Webb
Albert & Victoria/Slow Dreams — Lucy Sussex
Macreadie v The Love Machine — Jennifer Fallon
A Pearling Tale — Maxine McArthur
Acception — Tessa Kum
An Ear for Home — Laura E. Goodin
Home Turf — Deborah Biancotti
Archives, space, shame, love — Monica Carroll
Welcome, farewell — Simon Brown

Note: If you think Australian culture is all about neighbours and mateship, you may find Baggage distressing.

Note 2: If you want to know more, there are interviews here and here.

(no subject)

From my first year at high school, I sent myself messages forward in time.

The first one was when I stood outside the gym, waiting for the phys. ed. teacher. The breeze was perfectly tinged with salt and freshness and it blew through the branches of a tree that overlooked the gym. I looked up. There was a sudden silhouette in the sun.

"Remember this moment," I told myself. "Remember this perfect happiness, just in case you need it" I had already dismissed the difficult times when my father was ill, but I could never dismiss the notion that happiness needed to be remembered and sent forward to when it was needed.

Tonight we have a late summer breeze and I am indoors. No salt in the air. No freshness. No trees. No sunshine. I sit here and remember the gift child-Gillian sent me and I smile.