Happenings – Archive

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2005 Year of rooster


Monday March 7th , 8:00pm
Thomas Keneally – talks and reads at The Bookworm

One of the most successful modern Australian writers, Keneally has been short-listed for the Booker Prize on 4 occasions: in 1972 for The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Gossip from the Forest in 1975, and Confederates in 1979, before winning the prize in 1982 with Schindler’s Ark. This last novel caused something of a controversy at the time as it was considered by some to be more a work of journalistic reporting than a novel of fiction, which isn’t supposed to be in the spirit of things. In any event, by the time Stephen Spielberg filmed his version of the book under the title Schindler’s List in 1993, the controversy was forgotten.

On the Australian front, Keneally has won the Miles Franklin Award twice with Bring Larks and Heroes and Three Cheers for the Paraclete. It might be considered strange that he hasn’t won the major Australian Literary Award more often, but it must be remembered that the Miles Franklin is awarded for literary works depicting Australian life and settings. A number of Keneally’s later works have reflected his wider range of interests and deal with subjects which are not confined to a specific Australian context. In addition, there appears to have been a move away from older, more established writers such as Keneally by the Miles Franklin judges.

In The Age newspaper of Saturday 7th November 1998 there is the announcement of Keneally’s new book The Great Shame. In an article in that paper, Keneally writes: "Some years ago an editor suggested that having written on the Holocaust I should write something on the great Irish catastrophe of the 19th century…We agreed that the 19th-century calamity, particularly the famine, was compelling. But it had been splendidly written about by a number of writers. And it was not comparable to the Holocaust…In any case, I told the editor that if ever I was silly enough to buy into the tendentious question of Irish history I would want to tell the story not frontally from the point of view of convicts transported to Australia for particular crimes, not those aimed directly at person or property but those designed as social or political protest." The result was his new book. The research and writing took three years – the longest gap between any successive books in Keneally’s writing history.

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Tuesday March 15th , 7:30pm
The Great Maggot Detective – An Illustrated Talk By Mark Benecke

Dr Mark Benecke is the world’s only freelance full-time forensic entomologist. He has resuscitated the ancient science of forensic entomology, which had been used in homicide cases for the best part of 700 years but had fallen out of criminological fashion after the Second World War. According to Benecke, the earliest known forensic entomology case was reported by the scholar Sung T’Zu in 13th century China, when a body was found in a paddy field and the murderer was identified by the flies that were drawn to the invisible traces of blood on his sickle. By the late 19th century forensic entomology had developed into a formal discipline, with maggots being used primarily to determine the post-mortem interval – the length of time a body has been dead. From 1855 the French pioneers Bergeret d’Arbois and Paul Brouardel began using insects to determine the times and locations of murders, the presence of poison and other toxins in badly decomposed corpses, and the identification of suspects and crime weapons through bites and insect traces. Now Dr Benecke has expanded the field and travels across the world to work on cases, getting intimately acquainted with the kind of squirming larvae from which myriad phobias have grown.

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Tuesday March 22nd , 7:30pm
Rhapsody in Red, How Western Classical Music Became Chinese – A Talk by Sheila Melvin and Jindong Cai

Western classical music has become as Chinese as Peking Opera. Rhapsody in Red is a lucidly written account of classical music in China, showing how Western classical music entered China, and how is became Chinese, tracing the biographies of the bold visionaries who carried out the musical merger. Sheila Melvin is a frequent contributor to the Asian Wall Street Journal, The Wall Street Journal, The International Herald Tribune, and the New York Times. She often writes on music related subjects, including western classical music and Chinese opera. Jindong Cai was born in Beijing, and began his conducting career during the Cultural Revolution. He has first hand knowledge of many of the movements and events described in Rhapsody. Prof. Cai is now the Director of Orchestral Studies at Stanford University.

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Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence –
a book talk by internationally acclaimed Doris Pilkington –

Sunday 11th Sep 7:30pm

Doris Pilkington was born on Balfour Downs Station in Australia. As a toddler she was removed by authorities from her home, along with her mother Molly Craig and baby sister, and committed to Moore River Native Settlement, the same institution Molly had escaped from ten years previously, the story of which is told in Pilkington’s Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence.

At eighteen, Doris left the mission system as the first of its members to qualify for the Royal Perth Hospital’s nursing aide training program. Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence was first published in 1996, and released internationally as a film by Phillip Noyce in 2002.

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