Readings and Writings: Forty Years in Books

I’ll start off my declaring my degree of bias…I had no involvement with this publication celebrating Readings’ fortieth birthday, beyond passing on a few email addresses – though obviously as a Readings staffer I was disposed to like it. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed my journey through its pages, though.

There is an impressive list of names here. Cate Kennedy, Christos Tsiolkas, Alex Miller, Steven Amsterdam and Kalinda Ashton are among the many established authors who’ve contributed stories, mixing it with emerging writers like Josephine Rowe and Louise Swinn– and a handful of Readings staff members who double as clandestine scribblers. One of the real pleasures for anyone interested in the Melbourne literary scene is Mark Rubbo’s introductory essay, ‘Readings’ Beginnings’, recalling the development of Readings alongside a changing Melbourne – Carlton, in particular.

It’s clear that the established writers here have contributed with great affection – these are not just bottom-drawer discarded stories tossed our way, they are top-shelf reads that remind you of why these writers are so damn good. My favourites include Robbie Egan’s ‘Snake’, Christos Tsiolkas’s ‘The Pornographic Scientist’, Chris Womersley’s ‘The Age of Terror’ and Paul Mitchell’s ‘The Guard’, all of which stayed with me long after reading them.