May 18, 2013

Wayne Macauley at AWRF 2013

Sue from Central Library went to hear Australian novelist Wayne Macauley talk with Simon Wilson about his work.  Here's what she learned:

I was curious to meet the author behind the darkly humorous novel The Cook. Are authors ever as we imagined they would be in the flesh? Do we read the blurb of the book then flick to the back inside cover of the dust jacket to see the face behind the words, returning again once we have finished the book, to see if their image somehow matches what we imagined it would?

Wayne Macauley is a well-established writer and, it has to be said, his writing style is dark and sardonic, examining the subtle cruelties of human nature that will emerge given the right circumstance of emotional duress. I've only encountered Macauley's one novel The Cook prior to attending this session at the Writers and Readers Festival, so I am curious to learn a little more about him. Especially given that the aforementioned work, published in 2011, satirises the cult of celebrity chefs and the burgeoning mass of reality television, tracking the trials and tribulations of wannabe "master chefs" as they slavishly compete against one another to be the surviving contender.

syndetics-lcThe first most fundamental fact about Macauley is that he has absolutely no culinary interest whatsoever, really that was just a vehicle for him to explore the murky underbelly of the 'dream' of fame and fortune open to those who want it badly enough. Certainly I didn't find my digestive juices stirred about reading The Cook, in fact vegetarianism seemed like quite an attractive option for some time afterwards.

Macauley acknowledges that there is a common thread of subverting dominant myths of our society that runs through all his work. His inspiration is triggered by prising apart the rhetoric of the working class hero, and imagining what other realities might exist behind the surface layer of rhetoric that is endlessly reproduced by society. This lends a subversive feel to Macauley's writing and a playful yet increasingly ominous feel as the text progresses, revealing motivations and desires, whether individually or corporately drive, that are less than pure.

I learn that Macauley keeps within his sight line a quote about "setting the bar too high" which drives his work. In adopting this ethos, Macauley believes his work exceeds mediocrity, as a more modest goal might produce less engaging work. In the process of setting himself challenges in his writing practice, Macauley keeps himself mentally focused, keeping boredom, which he believes is every writer's archnemesis, at bay.

Within the hour session we are treated to a brief synopsis of his two other novels, and I find myself thinking that if you were emotionally fragile it would surely be masochistic to read all three back to back. One should perhaps clear the literary palate between texts. Given that it has been a good two years since I read The Cook, I feel I am ready to look up his earlier books, to be sandwiched in between something a little more upbeat.

-- Sue, Central Library

Ditulis Oleh : Karen Craig // 16:30


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