Month: September 2015

To Forgive and Forget: The limits of forgiveness

It may be easier to say “I forgive you” than it is to forget past wrongs. Does an apology necessitate complete forgiveness, or does the pain cut too deep for any form of absolution? According to James Bradley, critic and author of the recently released novel, Clade, some things are unforgiveable. Clade takes place over several decades, focusing on the Leith family as they deal with a world afflicted by the effects of climate change, along with their family dynamics. Bradley, speaking with David Vann and Sarah Armstrong at the 2015 Byron Bay Writers Festival, said that he attempted to connect climate change to a more personal experience. The impact of global climate change on the world is something Bradley believes we, as a species, are responsible for. He declares an anxiety from wondering how to ask for forgiveness from his own children in 15 years from now, when the global situation worsens. This anxiety formed his inspiration for writing Clade. Circumstances, such as climate change, can be very severe and unforgiveable by some. However, …

The simple act of reading: Why all reading is created equal

After many years of pondering, I’ve come to the conclusion that all reading is created equal. This is not to say that all books are created equal — I’m not saying that there aren’t good or bad books. What I’m saying is that the act of reading, of diving into a story and experiencing the characters, setting, and themes is universal in literature, regardless of a story’s quality. I think many people were very excited to attend the panel inspired by the book The Simple Act of Reading by Debra Adelaide for exactly this reason. Readers of all experience, who love everything from trashy romance novels to Greek classics, can appreciate the way it feels to dive into a book. This Sunday morning session at Byron Bay Writers Festival included Andy Griffiths, Malcolm Knox, and Joan London, and chaired by Catherine Keenan, and it represented a hugely diverse group of authors, to say the least. The Simple Act of Reading book itself is a collection of essays and memoirs, penned by authors on the ways …

Putting words in their mouth: The art of speechwriting

Speechwriting is a tough profession. Crafting another’s ideas and words into an eloquent package involves a lot of people who, as Don Watson told his audience at the 2015 Byron Bay Writers Festival, “really they never thought about words.” Rather amusing for the man who was speechwriter to Paul Keating when he was prime minister, and who went on to lead the charge for quality and integrity in public language. No easy task as you can imagine, and I think to be successful you must have some measure of passion for the person you’re writing about and what they stand for. Certainly for Watson and Michael Cooney, who was speechwriter to Julia Gillard, there is no shortage of passion for the prime ministers they served. This showed in their discussion and Jeni Caffin, their session chair at the festival, who described their books as “love letters” to the prime minsters they served. So what makes a great speech? Watson, who authored Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: A Portrait of Paul Keating PM, is matter-of-fact: speeches …