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Although it’s seven weeks since I got out of sleep lab, I still feel like I’m just waking up. Partly it’s the mayhem known in Adelaide as Mad March. Forums, panels, workshops, concerts, and one or two late nights at the Barrio… I wasn’t even booked for much, but somehow ended up being caught in the frenzy. It’s easy to spend your entire year’s theatre and music budget in March, even when you don’t live in Adelaide. It did not help, except that it did, to fly to Victoria for Easter and see Bruce Springsteen play at Hanging Rock. The gig was spectacular, though the man’s back catalogue is such that a week later I’m still thinking of songs I wish he’d played, and he played 29 of them. He’s beyond prolific; it’s almost extravagant. That longevity is definitely something to aspire to. I got to see another of my heroes in March, the great Laurie Anderson (I named this blog after one of her pieces) who was just an incredible and spellbinding performer/storyteller/weirdo. I have been doing a lot of aspiring.

In the way of twitter jokes that turn into life plans, I’m racing a short story collection against the novel, in the hope that one or the other will be finished this year; the lead changes week to week depending on which one is giving me a bigger headache. Questions about how the writing is going tend to be answered evasively and I am occasionally overwhelmed by urges to leave the country and disappear, which usually means I’m getting somewhere, I think. It is amazing how much worse at this I seem to become with every book.

Plenty else to do, anyway. Here‘s a review I wrote for the new Sydney Review of Books on Kerry Greenwood’s true crime book Tamam Shud – the book’s about Somerton Man, a fascinating case, and the review’s about all sorts of things – class, dualism, fiction and non-fiction and narrative structure – but mostly it’s about Weird Adelaide. Which is, as they say, a Thing. It’s been fun to get my teeth into a longer form review, and I’m really happy that the SRB has come along in a difficult time for literature and criticism with space for good writing about writing – it’s well worth reading all of it.

At Ryan O’Neill’s blog at the Review of Australian Fiction I’ve written a bit about how the horse got its name – including a sneak peek at what my first drafts look like. There’s a whole series on titling collections which makes for good reading, especially the hilarious list of O’Neill’s discarded titles.

In other news, the horse has been longlisted for the Frank O’Connor prize – it’s a long list of eligible books, but I’m chuffed to see my name on it (adult me is happy with the entire company, but thirteen-year-old me is particularly pleased to be there with Molly Ringwald).

Short stories today, by a nose.


  1. catherine therese wrote:

    Jen, hello lovely, been looking for a way to contact you, post our shared nuts in Melbourne at NFN; just to say hi and now a big congratulations you on the longlisting/Molly Ringwald rubbing; and to let you know i’ll be at the SWFestival, chairing, but mostly listening, if you’re over our way and feel like catching up for a drink. Alice Nelson, Cate Kennedy, a whole bunch of us will be about. I’m on 04XXXXXXXX. Catherine x

    Monday, April 15, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink
  2. catherine therese wrote:

    Not sure what happened with the previous posts, my first draft appeared second? Never the less, Alice, Cate, Peter B, a whole bunch of Varuna people will be at the festival and i’d love to catch up with you if you’re around. x

    Monday, April 15, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink
  3. jenjen wrote:

    Hi Catherine, how lovely to hear from you! I won’t be at Sydney this year – I’m committed to being an Ambassador at the Emerging Writers Festival, so will be in Melbourne – have a great festival and give my best to all at Varuna.

    I moderate the comments here so they don’t always appear right away – do feel free to email jenjen@jenjen.com.au. Warmest xJ

    Monday, April 15, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink