Monday, March 23, 2009

In which ThirdCat's book is launched

Finally at 2 am this yesterday morning I put this book down, about half-finished in one hit, and went to bed, but I didn't want to.

It's the story of two women, loosely and obliquely connected through family ties, and their complicated relationship with the South Australian town -- regional and industrial -- to which they are very attached, but which they fear may be making their children sick. It's a poet's novel, but it's also an activist's one.

Longtime readers of ThirdCat's blogs, especially the unique and wonderful 'blogopera' Adelaide Sprawls, will be familiar with her style and technique: restrained, almost minimalist, but with a turn of phrase and of observation that nails something you sort of already knew but would never have thought of putting quite like that.

They will be familiar, too, with her subject matter: the lives, circumstances and feelings of 'ordinary people' and all the stuff that seethes under the surface of their days and the physical objects and actions of daily life, the tea-making, the hair-washing and the car-fixing; the unresolved tensions, the suppressed exclamations, the half-understood feelings, the quality and complexity of emotional responses and transactions, the tiny fluctuations of feeling between people, the mysteries that reside in what is not said.

... she had not needed a card to know who the roses were from. But she didn't know what they meant.

Even going over the words they had said on the phone she couldn't work it out. They could mean sorry or I miss you or goodbye, because in the end she had pushed him to say, I will get over you, if that's what you make me do.

(Recycling disclosure: I have said some of this about Tracy's writing before, and it will look familiar to her if not to anyone else.) It's all there in Black Dust Dancing, though less concentrated and intense, making more room, as is proper in a novel, for the story and the setting.

So this afternoon at Sturt Street Primary School, icon and symbol of all that is best in the history of South Australian education and school to both of Tracy's boys, an assortment of family, friends and fans assembled to celebrate her achievement, buy her novel, and queue up to get her to sign it,

and then to see it officially launched by Adelaide's Sheridan Stewart, artist, comedian, radio presenter and MC of the comedy show Titters, which featured Tracy in her other life as a standup comedian and which was practically booked out for the duration of the Adelaide Fringe.

(Sheridan Stewart attended by Wakefield Press publisher Michael Bollen, behind whose left hip you can just see a bottle of the fabled Fox Creek Verdelho.)

Sheridan made a funny, warm speech but was upstaged by Tracy's boys, who came purposefully up to the bar behind her and fetched a cup of what was probably apple juice, but looked a lot like white wine, each, and melted back into the crowd, to its general appreciation. Tracy then made an excellent thank-you speech,

dividing the thankees into thoughtful categories instead of naming names, which is always a minefield.

Before and after the ceremonials I had a nice talk with the lovely Deborah from In A Strange Land and met her beautiful daughters.

Tracy and the boys and the mister have to fly back to Abu Dhabi tomorrow morning. I'm guessing she might try to have a bit of a nap on the plane.

Cross-posted from Still Life With Cat

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