Saturday, September 05, 2009

Melbourne Writers' Festival - 4

The last session I attended on Sunday was "Females Exposed: on writing women back into history". I'm not sure what I expected this to be about, but probably I was hoping for how to write both history and historical fiction, and make it interesting. And also about writing unwritten stories, which is where oral history comes in. There are many wonderful accounts of everyday life, especially from certain periods such as the Depression, that make amazing reading.

This session could have been so much better. It was sponsored by the Professional Historians Association, and we got to hear four women speak about the projects they are working on. Great. Some of it was interesting, some of it was not (and people who go over their time limit should be taken out the back and beaten with a microphone stand!). But with all the talking about projects, there was hardly any time for discussion or questions, and considering this was a 1-1/2 hour session, you can guess how much of it was taken up with the speech stuff.

There was a lot of muttering around me, both during the talks and as we filed out. It seemed like it wasn't just me who was disappointed. I felt there was a great deal of interest in the topic - the theatre was full - and yet after a great session, people go out buzzing and still talking. Didn't happen here. Looking back, I think there could have been a great discussion, at least, about how women are depicted in history and perhaps how they are depicted in historical fiction - and where the differences come from. Oh well...

SwimmingAfterwards, I went to a great launch of Enza Gandalfo's book Swimming. Helen Garner launched it, there were some nice speeches, some wine and food, and lots of old friends meeting up. I see in the Age today that Enza's book was No. 6 on the festival best-seller list - above Kate Grenville's The Lieutenant. Go, Enza!

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