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Interview

Lifeline Bookfests p2

Norman Wallis takes a snapshot of a couple of stories from his favourite Lifeline Bookfest books…

Here are another couple of favorite books from my collection. The Norman Wallis Library is almost entirely stocked with Bookfest books. Especially the South Wing.

The Big Top. My 40 Years with the Greatest Show on Earth by Fred Bradna as told to Hartzell Spence. The 80-year-old ring master from Barnum and Bailey and European circuses recalls his career. In one story he tells how met his wife in 1901, while on leave from the German army. He and a friend make a forbidden visit to Paris, two hours by train from their garrison. He was an Alsatian with French sympathies, but wore civilian clothes due to the frosty reception German soldiers received in the city. They secured a ringside box at the famous Nouveau Cirque, and drank champagne. Calliope music played. They heard that a famous young bareback rider from Prague would be performing daring feats of equitation. While she performed these stunts on horseback someone threw a nosegay into the ring. The stallion on which she was balanced shied and tossed her into Fred Bradna’s ringside box. “Suddenly there I was with my arms around her”, asking her if she was all right. Then and there he decided to marry her and join the circus. A brilliant book.

Mystery Writers Handbook edited by Lawrence Treat. This includes an account by an author of how he could write a novel using a single word as a starting point. For example, fish. Say there is a fellow working in a pet shop where they sell fish. Why is he there? As a cover, trying to appear like an average person. What’s he really doing? He’s up to no good, hatching a cunning plan. And so the author adds bits and pieces; he said writing novels was a process of accretion.

Esar’s Comic Dictionary. Published 1943. College-bred: a four-year loaf made with father’s dough.

A couple of collections of Writers at Work – The Paris Review Interviews, in Penguin editions. Jack Kerouac on writing novels quickly: “You think out what actually happened, you tell friends long stories about it, you mull it over in your head, you connect it together at leisure, then when the time comes to pay the rent again you force yourself to sit at the typewriter, or at the writing notebook, and get it overwith as fast as you can.”

For readers in Queensland, or people who can travel there, here are the Bookfest dates:
Sunshine Coast , in Bokarina. 17-19 April.
Maryborough. 30 April- 2 May.
Gold Coast 15-17 May.
Rockhampton 22-24 May.
Brisbane. Queens Birthday weekend, mid-June.
Mackay 6-9 August.
Ipswich 17-19 August.
Bundaberg. 26-27 September.

– copyright Simon Sandall.