Last weekend, I had the privilege of being on a panel at the Perth Writers Festival with Ramona Koval (author and broadcaster) and journalist Imre Salusinszky to talk about the familiar or personal essay. This is a form I love to read and write and I was delighted as part of my preparation to read Walter Murdoch’s essays (made available in a new volume edited by Imre) and the latest Best Australian Essays 2011, edited by Ramona.
With Delys Bird as chair, we ended up having a really lively discussion, and the large audience got involved in the debate. Who are our favourite essayists? Are blogs the modern-day personal essays? How long or short can an essay be? All these were contested issues. What did not seem to be contested was that we all miss The Book Show, which was, until last November, hosted by Ramona Koval every weekday morning. Many people came up and spoke to Ramona, telling her they loved the show and missed it and her.
I must admit, I have not had time to listen to the replacement radio program, which covers the arts generally as well as writing. I look forward to podcasting some of it soon.
Back to the personal essay, my favourite ones in this year’s Best Australian Essays were by Gillian Mears (brilliant piece), Morris Lurie, Maria Tumarkin, Andrew Sant and Shakira Hussein. All well worth reading.