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Readings and Writings: 40 Years in Books

You might have seen that Readings, the legendary Carlton bookshop (OK, I know it’s in other places as well now but it’s located in Carlton on the spiritual plane) is celebrating its anniversary by publishing a collection of short stories by Australian writers.The Readings site explains:

Readings and Writings is a collection of new Australian short stories from writers who have been involved with Readings over the years. All have contributed freely to celebrate the shop and its achievements, and to assist The Readings Foundation in supporting literacy, the arts and the community.

The list of contributors is below:

Alex Miller
Cate Kennedy
Robert Egan
Chris Womersley
Jenny Sinclair
Michael McGirrv
Peter Goldsworthy
Josephine Rowe
Christos Tsiolkas
Myfanwy Jones
Kalinda Ashton
Mark Seymour
Barry Divola
Amy Tsilemanis
Louise Swinn
Chris Grierson
Elliot Perlman
Paddy O’Rielly
Miles Allinson
Tony Birch
Catherine Harris
Paul Mitchell
David Cohen
Leanne Hall
Kate Holden
Steven Amsterdam

Not bad company Overland‘s associate editor keeps these days.

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

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Jeff Sparrow is the former editor of Overland. He is the co-author (with Jill Sparrow) of Radical Melbourne: A Secret History and Radical Melbourne 2: The Enemy Within, the editor (with Antony Loewenstein) of Left Turn: Essays for the New Left and the author of Communism: a love story, Killing: Misadventures in violence, and Money Shot: A Journey into Censorship and Porn.  On Twitter, he's @Jeff_Sparrow.

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  1. Readings had been a consistent stop for me in my adult life, ever since I moved near Carlton when I was seventeen and had just started university. I can remember being utterly awed by the area around Lygon street (the gelati, the people with abominably interesting clothes, the tiny hole-in-the-wall theatre emanating shrieks and bafflement, the impossibility of getting served quickly at Tiamo's, the desperately cool men with shaggy beards holding joints; I was perhaps a bit sheltered when I first visited Carlton). I adored Readings, even though they would never give me a job (apparently waffling on about loving books is no substitute for actual skills). I had a number of moments of sheer elation when I discovered some new novelist who made my skin tingle, and some of the more significant turning points in my life must have taken place there. It might be disquieting to consider how many breakups or reconciliations have taken place between new fiction and new biography.

    I think of standing in the rain outside the store, with my hair dripping water down my back, glumly contemplating the proliferation of share-house ads and seeking to decode the witty language into something more pragmatic (was open-minded a synonym for drug-addled? How neurotic was the person asking for a "clean and quiet" flatmate? Why was a single man seeking 'women only applicants'?) , or running into people with whom I'd had fleeting attachments, and never wanted to see again, in the travel section because, *damn* them, they all read books. Then there were the launches, the critical theory books on sale, the horrifyingly knowledgeable staff who worked in the music department, the bargain table. The story I've got in this anthology is about working in retail…

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