Sunday, 14 March 2010
A Tale of Two Books - Birth and Death
Two things bookish have emerged in the last week for me.
First an imminent birth.
My mate Loani - she of the bestselling 'Wild Tea Cosies' fame is launching the sequel, 'Really Wild Tea Cosies', in Brisbane at our local book shop Avid Reader on Friday March 26. Wild Tea Cosies was Avid Reader's biggest seller in 2008 and the publishers went on to launch it in Britain and the USA where it also sold like hotcakes.
In recent years there seems to have been a surge of interest in the crafts our grandmothers' plied and Loani is surfing the craze. Young and old are rediscovering the old skills of hand crafted objects, clothes and giftmaking. Even in my job working with young people I have been amazed to find teenagers using cut and past techniques, handwritten and typewriter written stories and handdrawn illustrations to make their zines. They just love the hands on experience of making their own publications from go to whoa. At our resource centre http://www.visibleink.org/ we are in the process of setting up a retro-technology room to allow young people to generate these projects.
So back to Loani. She has an eccentric knitting website which links with fellow eccentrics across the globe. They are intent on reinventing the old craft. So successful has this been that Loani currently has an exhibition of her tea cosies at the prestigious Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. Who would have thought that the humble tea cosy would sit alongside engineering displays, intergalactic photography and socially insightful exhibitions about Indigenous storytelling. Museums have certainly transformed themselves in recent years.
And here's the surprise. Loani has asked me to launch the book. The pressure is on. I'm hoping I can contribute to a really wild night.
And a death.
I edited a book 15 years ago, 'Challenging the Centre', which documented two decades of political theatre in Queensland. Unlike Loani's book it was not a best seller but ended up on university library bookshelves, as reading for Drama courses etc. It has probably sold 1000 copies over that period. In my mind it was an important book because it challenged the notion that only Melbourne and Sydney produced anything original or politically significant and it gave official standing to the often neglected work of small poilitical and progressive theatre companies who get swamped by the mainstream state theatre companies. There is an assumption that real theatre happens in real theatres while many of these small companies are touring companies or, as with the company I worked for, based in warehouse or factory spaces.
Anyway it has been remaindered and I am the proud owner of 523 copies of this beaut book. I now have the challenge of distributing copies to the many participants who worked for these companies over 20 years and the remainder? Perhaps there is an online market at discount prices for the last 200 copies.