Radical Melbourne and the ‘Summer Read’

Radical Melbourne, a book my sister Jill and I wrote in 2001, was part of the State Library of Victoria’s Summer Read program, which has now concluded:

No 1
I am Melba by Ann Blainey (Black Inc) 
A gripping account of Dame Nellie Melba’s life, from defying her father and escaping to Paris, to becoming Australia’s first international singing star.
No 2
Blood Sunset by Jarad Henry (Allen & Unwin)
In this enthralling novel, a middle-aged detective uncovers a shady world of drug dealing and paedophilia linked to a teenager’s death in St Kilda.
No 3
Radical Melbourne by Jeff Sparrow & Jill Sparrow (Vulgar)
This exploration of Melbourne’s hidden alternative political history reveals the struggles gone by in familiar inner-city streets and buildings.
No 4
Addition by Toni Jordan (Text)
The engaging story of Grace Vandenburg, who obsessively counts everything in her daily life, until she meets Seamus and numbers can no longer hold her world together.
No 5
Beaten by a Blow (Penguin) by Dennis McIntosh
The gritty memoir of a young sheep-shearer learning life’s hard lessons in the tough environment of the shearing sheds.

It’s great that the SLV devotes so much time to conversations about books. The librarians who worked with us on a walking tour that happened to coincide with the hottest day Melbourne has ever experienced were lovely people. And it’s fantastic that people still get something from RM.

On the other hand, the need to tabulate and rank everything is kinda depressing. As Capleton says somewhere, music is a mission, not a competition. So too writing.

Jeff Sparrow

Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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  1. Meant to grab you then and offer congratulations to you both, Jeff. Very fun indeed to see RM up there.
    I think the emphasis does have to be on conversation, but that too is a process. Personally I am not crazy about a lot of the peripheral stuff in blogging that seems to increase conversation enormously – memes, for example. Not why I blog at all, but gee, people like to talk about them. Perhaps lists are conversation-starters in that respect.

  2. Thanks Genevieve. I hope the post didn’t come across as churlish — I did really appreciate the efforts of the SLV in putting the event together.

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