Friday, August 19, 2011
So I'm now back in Tokyo, after a two week sojourn in Melbourne - the more prominent Melbourne in Australia rather than its silly namesake in Florida, which is 32 years younger. I get parochial about this because the Melbourne in Australia is my hometown, and also the setting for my novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat.
I went down this time not only to rendezvous with friends and family, nor just to soak in the sights, sounds, smells and brilliant foodstuffs that the city does indeed boast. Because the novel was only recently published, it was high-time I did a book launch there; any excuse to have a party, and all that jazz. Anyway, we ended up doing the propaganda jaunt at a superb 1853 blue-stone abode in the city called Miss Libertine on Wednesday 10th August, and the turn-out was brilliant.
Suitably enough it was also pissing down with rain that evening.
I got in early to cut my teeth with some beer; I also cut up wads of cheese and a smoked sausage that, in Australia, we call cabana (suitably kitsch old school '70s art exhibition style, and far cheaper than serving up sushi!) plus we had salt and vinegar chips and chocolate teddy bears since they appear in the novel.
There were hiccups - the three-hour background score I'd put together, which included musical influences, soundtracks from appropriate films, my own hack Little Nobody muzak and some self-indulgent ditties, failed to fire-up. We also had technical problems with the DVD projector so we couldn't screen most of what I wanted to show. I skipped out on doing a book-reading - a part of me thought that a wee bit too pretentious in the circumstances - so I opted to opening myself up to an informal Q&A instead.
The only problem was that between the hob-knob of the occasion and scrawling inane messages on copies of the book, I had to remember names, catch up with mates and family members who showed up, and generally remind myself to make time for a sip or two of ale squeezed in between gas-bagging - so the Q&A fell on the back-burner a bit.
But management at the venue were wunderbar (thanks, Bo!), the vibe was fantastic, I had a couple of great happy-snappers (in particular Jason Maher) and no minor problems seemed to matter anyway.
Massive thanks to everyone who showed up and thereby created the vibe I talked up a sentence back - you all rock. While I'll admit to having been a bit stressed before the event, during and especially after I had a ball.
That's Melbourne (Australia) for you.
I forgot how much I missed the place, even now - a decade after I left - and it just seems to improve with age. I think anybody who bothers to read this blog (hello? Anybody?) might've noticed I like to talk up fine wines, and there're some nice drops to be found in Australia. So the image of Melbourne aging away in a dank cellar - since I love my vintage stuff - is actually a positive one.
We're not talking dusty, damp and archaic, though there's plenty of gorgeous Victorian architecture to be found in this city with its fair share of mold. Melbourne has a comparatively short history but has hung on to a lot of that, while at the same time developing new twists and turns as it goes.
But I think being away gave me the detachment necessary to set my novel in a post-apocalyptic Melbourne in which the proverbial shit has hit the fan.
Anyway, a couple of days ago I left again, going straight from around 6°C in the early morning in Melbourne to 36°C and humid here in Tokyo - nice and sizzling in the sun; steaming in the shade.
And I'm buggered, but it's brilliant to be with the girls again. And missing Melbourne already - what a city.
Now I just need time to recuperate.
Photos by Jason Maher & Andrez Bergen.