THE HOOPLA LITERARY SOCIETY
“I am a paper freak. It’s a physical passion, I cannot live without paper. Touching perfect paper has something sensuous about it.” Karl Lagerfield
I never thought I’d open a Literary Society column with a quote by Karl Lagerfield, but then again, I never dreamed anyone would invent a perfume called Paper Passion.
Shows you what I know. Many would agree with Lagerfield when he says, “the smell of a freshly printed book is the best smell in the world” but who would have thought that comment would inspire a collaboration between bespoke publishing house Gerhard Steidl and master perfumer Geza Schoen.
Originally commissioned for the Wallpaper* magazine Handmade exhibition in Milan, the idea was that Paper Passion should be a perfume that emulates the relaxed meditative state of concentration that reading a book does.
According to the Gerhard Steidl website, “wearing the scent of a book is chic”- mmm, not so sure about that. In case you’re curious, the perfume’s packaging is an actual book, you can read texts from Günter Grass, Tony Chambers and Karl Lagerfeld.
“The Galapagos. That’s where I want to sail. World’s End, some call it, or ‘the enchanted islands’. Even Melville himself visited them. I’ve wanted to visit these islands since I was a boy. Clive and I discussed them all the time, where would we go, if we took this old boat and roamed? I want to go there, to the end of the earth. To an island in the centre of the Sea of Peace, an island called Indefatigable.”
Gavin Weald is the CEO of a mid-sized company. He has a six-year-old daughter, Océan, an old dog called Suzy and a wife Claire “waterlogged with grief” after floods washed away their baby son, their house and their marriage. Unable to face returning to work and with Claire plunged into deep depression and currently residing with his prickly mother-in-law Jackie, Gavin picks up Océan and Suzy and runs away. It’s easy to do when you own an old Great Dane sailing boat and are able to island hop across the Carribean as if you were still 20-something. But Gavin is no longer a young man and there’s no guarantee that running away will help Océan overcome her post traumatic stress or his fear that Claire will never wake up and be her old self again.
Author Monique Roffey is a native Trinidadian and the flood that washed away fictional Gavin Weald’s house finds its genesis in the real life floods that washed away Roffey’s brother’s house in 2008. It became the inspiration for this tale of finding peace, renewal and connection through journey. That Roffey travelled from Trinidad to the Galapagos island of Indefatigable in order to research the novel (what a sacrifice!) shows in the clever detail and beautiful imagery.
For instance, Roffey repeats the image of pink houses. Weald paints their home pink to please Océan, and then again when the house is rebuilt after the flood. As they travel from island to island, they find other pink houses, each empty, lonely and in the case of the slave huts of Bonaire, full of grief. It’s just one example of how evocative and lush Roffey’ writing is- just like the West Indian setting of her story. Archipelago is a book of many delights. BUY THIS BOOK
No-one was fooled that the changes at Fairfax Media were ever going to be anything but bad news for any sections that weren’t The News. So, it is no real surprise that The Canberra Times is losing its locally employed literary staff and will now source its content from Melbourne and Sydney.
This is the kind of news that sends chills down the spines of publishing types because they need literary pages like (ahem!) The Hoopla Literary Society to review, interview and generally celebrate matters bookish. Losing one voice may not in itself be the end of the world but should losing one voice become a lost chorus then it will be a dire situation indeed. Particularly concerned are those who write and publish genre fiction, such as Sci Fi or Fantasy because they already receive scant attention.
It makes me wonder what changes we can expect in other Fairfax papers and whether we can expect less books reviewed and fewer people in the familiar literary pages. Have any of you noticed any content changes in your Spectrum or Turning Pages? Is The Canberra Times just the thin edge of the wedge?
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