It’s been a colourful few weeks since the quiet start of Rousing Departures. I’m still graduating back into the swing of things, mind you; getting a feel for all the buttons and switches, all while exploring a few new avenues of literary experience.
A good part of the fun has been Embiggen Books’ recent #bookshopsaredead event on Twitter. Essentially a light literary exercise, the gist is to come up with variations on book titles that reflect the changing state of the industry – what with the electronic book taking sales away from flesh, blood and paper booksellers.
‘Schrödinger’s Bookshop by John Gribbin #bookshopsaredead #bookshopsarealive’ was a pet favourite from my own attempts, and Warren’s ‘Do Booksellers Dream of Electric Books by Philip K. Dick’ was particularly apt. Also existentially angst-inducing was Russell Blackford’s apocalyptic ‘The Bookshop At The End of The Universe by Douglas Adams’.
There were of course, a number of other wonderful contributions, no less enjoyable, only I don’t want to repeat myself and I’m running out of the effulgent language I’d need to describe them all. Call me overly sentimental, but I feel from my end as if the experience has been comparable at least to some of what the ‘pussy is bullshit’ episode from Hitch-22 (the one that had Salman Rushdie producing ‘Octobullshit’) had to offer its participants.
Unfortunately for Embiggen, prior, and giving context to this fun, a sewer pipe burst at their new Melbourne location only a few weeks after opening. With a forced temporary closure, the chosen theme is deeply ironic. I hope the black humor has at least been as good for them as it has for the rest of us!
Embiggen Books, demonstrating considerable morale, have taken the product of this spree of words to artfully produce a number of beautiful posters, displaying them across their storefront during the closure. Producing something looking a little like this… (I’m flattered).
You can browse more of the display over at Embiggen Books’ Facebook Album, or if you’re in Melbourne, better still you can take a stroll past at 197-203 Lt Lonsdale St. They’ll be opening back up on the 7th of October. Talk about persistent (#bookshopsareundead?)!
It absolutely has to be said that Warren and Kirsty’s enthusiasm is infectious, and much-needed. You’d have to be a terrible cynic, and probably just a little deluded, to say that this is all just good for business. For more of the back story on the ethos, Chrys Stevenson has a nice little article that gives you an idea of the kind of motivation we’re discussing.
I think if this kind of passion for literature could be replicated, bottled and crop-dusted over the Australian populace, we’d be half-way to solving a lot of our problems, not the least of which would be educational. And even just from photos on the Internet, Embiggen seems possibly the most beautiful bookstore I’ve ever seen* (all the more in my view for not going the clichéd way of the wind chime), which to me is further testament to the love affair driving things. I’m enervated by the mere thought of dropping in while in Melbourne next year.
All of this is really pushing home just what a lucky bunch Melburnians are when it comes to literature. I’ve known this since day dot, but appreciating it is another matter.
No, I’m not about to up and move. Rather, I’m finding myself in no abstract sense wanting more of this for Adelaide. I can’t help thinking we here in the polite city couldn’t be just a tad more competitive**. (There are already a few Melburnian writers I feel a little aggressive toward, so there’s that as well).
Perhaps electronic literature will dissolve the interstate boundaries as things progress, but I don’t think this has to make establishing and sustaining a greater, friendly rivalry impossible.
At any rate, in the spirit of rousing a little creative passion, and with more than just a little bit of solidarity, I’ll be attending my first poetry slam here in Adelaide tomorrow night. I’ll be there not to participate (I’m too early in the thaw to attempt that), but rather to observe how it’s done.
As it is with the creative gates open as they’ve been these past few weeks, all sorts of weird stuff has been coming out. Not the least of which has been a succession of unwanted puns and double entendres. I’ve had a sniper on the fence pinging off artless smut and faux pas, left and right, with one or two offenders escaping thus far.
(To give you an idea of how frustrating this can be, I’m still trying to work out how exactly it was that back in 1998, I suggested one young lady fellate her brother. I’m often not conscious of the specifics of the joke even after reflection, yet so frequently does some part of my brain conspire toward this kind of thing, I’m unable to dismiss all of the accusations. I need to harness this thing, not be undermined by, nor repress it.)
I’d probably go with something in the serial killer milieu anyway***, which is not something you’d want to botch at your first gig. I wouldn’t want to be mistaken for the real thing.
Maybe I’ll report on the night a little further down the track. In the meantime, I’d better start thinking about what I’ve got to order from Embiggen once they get back up and running.
* Sorry Dymocks Rundle Mall – I still love you too though!
** Which is not to say I blame the writers!
*** But not hip hop like Necro. Although I like some of his words, hip hop’s not my thing – I’m thinking more Jeff Lindsay meets internal monologue. Or an extended autopsy limerick.