Friday, October 19, 2007

A Handbag??

Last night I did a talk about Gatsby at the Avid Reader bookshop in West End, Brisbane. It's a gorgeous shop, run by the equally gorgeous Fiona and her lovely crew (special thanks to Anna Krien and Ben), and I had a wonderful time.

The experience was all the sweeter for the fact that it came after an extremely stressful day. I am usually a very organised person. I am also not generally much interested in handbags (unlike my buddy Scootergrrl). But in a brief lapse of judgement when packing on Wednesday night, I decided to transfer all my girly junk from one handbag to the other. All dandy... until two hours into my (delayed) flight, I realised with a sensation not unlike unexpected turbulence that I'd left my data stick - with my Gatsby presenation on it - in the Other Handbag. Cue Lady Bracknell. It didn't just look like carelessness - it looked like a fkn disaster!

There ensued a epic scramble to convey this enormous file (100mb) from a handbag in Fairfield, Melbourne, to a data stick in Brisbane. This involved getting my neighbour to break-and-enter (well, sort of), after which our internet, then hers, failed. She took the stick to her husband's work (is this going beyond the call or what?) where he managed to upload the file to the publisher's ftp site (which took 2 hours) after which the wonderful people in the IT department of my work very, very kindly downloaded it for me and sent it to Brisbane. This entire process took almost seven hours. During which time I also had to do a full day's work at the office. At 5pm on the dot I had my presentation on a borrowed data stick, and I needed a drink.

I left the office, still a bit goggle-eyed and quavery, and who do you think was standing just outside the building? In a beautiful bit of Brisbane serendipity, I almost fell over my favourite cranky bastard, Eddie "thanks for roning" Campbell, patron saint of forgetting stuff when you catch a plane, along with his lovely wife Anne.

Eddie and I then walked to the Avid Reader, where the wonderfully calm and friendly atmosphere of the shop instantly smoothed the day away. I was really tickled that Eddie wanted to attend this talk. We've presented together a few times and both enjoyed it very much, but I've never done a solo presentation with my sometime sparring partner in the audience. Anne had previously said that if she were doing the talk, she'd have him removed from the room before it began, so I have to admit to some trepidation. One mention of the words "graphic novel", I feared, might send him into a frenzy of objection and correction - or worse, he might just look at me from the back row with that pained rictus of horror on his face.

But no. I was very happy to note Eddie nodding in agreement and smiling throughout the talk. Afterwards, over a much-desired glass of pinot gris at a lovely West End bar, he said "That was great. You talked about your book without saying 'graphic novel' once, or getting into the whole business about what these things are called". Well, of course! It's not a topic that I tend to talk about anyway (!), but with Eddie in the audience, well, I'd have to be completely stupid to venture into those waters!

A particularly delightful aspect of this event for me was that it was held outside on the back porch of the shop, in the balmy Brisbane evening. The audience was friendly and enthusiastic and gave some great feedback. I was especially touched by the super-excited reaction of the charmingly-named Lucia Bee of the Somerville School, who asked me if I'd like to be their writer/artist in residence for a few days next year. You bet I would. I love Brisbane.
PS - also received this lovely review recently. Beam!


drjon said...

It was an excellent presentation! I really enjoyed your talk, and the way you brought your love for Gatsby alive. Kudos to you for your very fine work!

(Apologies for not sticking around, by the way. Tired, and very, very cold for some reason, so ran home to bed.)

Nicki Greenberg said...

Hey, thanks so much, Dr Jon. And I really appreciated all your emphatic nodding during the talk - that kind of feedback helps me know if I'm going in the right direction!

Til next time!

ClareSnow said...

I'm doing a PhD on teenagers' reading of Graphic novels / comics / manga / etc and I use a very blasphemous defn of GNs in my research. As a sideline, I eagerly anticipate Australian GNs, because there's not enough in the world. I keep a list of them here, but of course Eddie Campbell wouldn't approve of most of my list.

I just read your Gatsby adaptation. I intermittently talk to Zoe S. and she alluded to it a long time ago, but it took me this long to actually buy it and then move it to the top of my reading pile. I was captivated by your rendition. I read the novel a long time ago and had no recollection other than the characters names, so the tragedy was a nice (not really the right word) surprise. And your characters are amazing. I particularly liked it when one of the servants broke his "arm".

Nicki Greenberg said...

Many thanks, Clare. I'm glad you liked the "arms" too - that's one of my favourite little things.

Your research sounds interesting - I'm very keen to hear what your conclusions are. And I'm sure there are many teachers and librarians who would gobble up this information. The people I met from the Somerville School told me that they are now showcasing GNs and getting an excellent response from their high school students.

All best - I look forward to checking out more of your site.


spacedlaw said...

Oh dear!
That memory stick thingy would have had me off to the hospital with a heart attack.
How EVER did you manage to go through a full day of work nevertheless?
Did the knowledge that similar things happen to other people as well help? Then you might enjoy Ogden Nash's You and me and PB SHelley...
Glad to read that it went well in the end...

Hayley said...

Not horror, just disappointment. Which is so much worse.

Nicki Greenberg said...

Hayley! Nice to hear from you. I'm sure you could write a field guide to those expressions. Have you seen the Jeunet & Caro film Delicatessen? The hero's expressions bear a certain resemblance.

Nathalie - thank you - and I LOVE Ogden Nash. Will have to check that one out. My favourites are the Doctor Fell poems. When Dr Fell visits everything goes wrong. In retrospect, I think he took up residence with me on Thursday.