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Byron Bay Soundbites

August 9, 2012

Jane Caro (from BBWF website)

Susan Sontag warned us against aphorisms because they pander to our desire to reduce complexity into soundbites. But aphorisms can also spark our interest in the aphorist and prompt us to investigate further. Hence the following unreliable list of half-remembered and hastily jotted quotes from the Bryon Bay Writers Festival. If you weren’t there, this is a small taste of what you missed.

Feminism is the fight by half the population to be taken seriously by the other half … Two thousand years of people being disappointed when you are born is not overcome quickly. – Jane Caro, author and commentator

The book is about me. All writing is autobiography. – Rohan Wilson, author of The Roving Party

Rohan Wilson (from BBWF website)

It’s not so much me in my books, more a reflection of how I see the world. But I do stick my friends and neighbours in. – Sulari Gentill, author of the Rowland Sinclair Series.

The task of the writer is to inhabit contradiction. – Gail Jones, whose latest novel is Five Bells

We cross boundaries when we read and write. Trespass transforms us. – Gail Jones

The word ‘loser’ reveals more about the person who says it than it does about the person against whom it is used. The idea of winners and losers is horrible. – Charlotte Wood, whose protagonist in the novel Animal People could be called a ‘loser’

Gail Jones (from BBWF website)

We are interested in retrieving people from the categories they are consigned to, such as ‘loser’. – Gail Jones

Novels can counteract the categorical denunciations from mass culture. There is a moral quality to reading and writing, but it cannot be a preaching quality. And perhaps a writer who portrays particularities cannot preach. – Gail and Charlotte

Reading a novel, you can tell when the writer has had that process of beautiful discovery for oneself, as opposed to the writer knowing something, and telling you. – Charlotte Wood

Unexpected explosion of stereotypes (for example, “Singaporeans are rude”) is one of the joys of travel. – panellists at the Small World session, based on the latest Griffith Review.

Gay Bilson (from BBWF website)

The ultimate courtesy is to have your food chosen for you, rather than having to make your own choice. It honours home cooking and enters into a relationship with person who is preparing it. – Gay Bilson, restaurateur and author

I am grateful for the gift of Autumn Laing’s character and energy – she came in and took over. It was fun, easy to write. When that doesn’t happen, it’s hard labour, but you have to make it look as though it was easy and fun. – Alex Miller, novelist

Forgetting is an illusion – it’s all there. Follow the prompts of the imagination. – Alex Miller

Women should have the right to define their own sexuality, not to have it defined for them, for example, by having low libido defined as a medical problem. – Bella Elwood-Clayton, sexual anthropologist

Imaginary cosmopolitanism is the idea that digital age has opened up the world to us. In reality we stick to our own little patch. – from the panel of Digital Big Bang: expanding horizons for the work of writers

First love never dies but never survives. – Andrea Hirata, Indonesian writer

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