Sunday, August 31, 2008

Kate Atkinson & The Australian Racing Museum


I had the good fortune to meet the British writer Kate Atkinson yesterday morning, albeit very briefly. It was after her appearance at the Melbourne Writers Festival where she did a reading and was interviewed by a local writer who did not identify herself.

It was very interesting, and delightful to see and hear Kate Atkinson in the flesh.

She came across as an intelligent and dryly humorous person - someone you would like to get to know better.

I have been a fan of her books since Behind The Scenes At The Museum launched her into the public eye in 1995. She won the Whitbread Book of The Year prize that year for the novel. She now has had seven books, including a book of short stories, published and to my mind each new one is better than the last. I loved her latest When Will There Be Good News?

end of the world When asked which of her books was her favourite, Kate voted for her book of short stories Not The End Of The World which she claims contains her best writing. I reread a couple of the stories this morning and I must say they are delightful - quirky, highly original, with that wonderful light Atkinson "magic realist" touch.

Her taste in music , as evidenced by the choice of music of her character Jackson Brodie, is very similar to mine. I recognise all the artists he listens to in the novels. She obviously likes the alt country genre, and when we asked her what she was currently listening to she replied with Tift Merritt and The Waifs, both of whom are represented in my music collection.

The event was held at Federation Square at The Edge auditorium. It happens to be be very close to the Australian Racing Museum which I have not had the opportunity of visiting before. I decided, seeing as I was in the area, that I would give it a look over.

There's not all that much on display really, though it did bring back memories of horses I dedicatedly followed in the past, so it was interesting for me. It did have the skeleton of Carbine who won the 1890 Melbourne Cup, and was the founding sire of a great many fine Australian racehorses.

I had a chat with the guy behind the counter and asked if the museum would be interested in seeing my old race horse scrapbook from the early 1960s. He was interested in it and we had a cosy chat about the horses who raced in those days, including my old favourite Dhaulagiri. He said Dhaulagiri's old jockey Geoff Lane had come into the museum a few weeks back. He knew a lot about the racing industry and was about my vintage, age wise, so it was good to have a racing conversation - a hard thing to come by in my normal person to person encounters.

As for the races yesterday, Weekend Hussler was back in the winner's circle with a decisive win in the Memsie Stakes. My other two super stable runners also did well. Sugar Babe won her race and Dorabella came a close third in hers. My virtual coffers were boosted by $200,000+ in prize money.


Kay said...

I really must read some Kate Atkinson! I keep hearing her name ... and if she likes alt country then she must be okay! Thanks for the prompt.

Anne S said...

Kay, You can't go wrong reading any of Kate Atkinson's books. She's one author I always look forward to a new book from and religiously purchase it when it is published. I am never disappointed.

I'd recommend reading her three Jackson Brodie novels "Case Histories", "One Good Turn" & "When Will There Be Good News?" and her earlier book, "Human Croquet", though her book of short stories is great as well.

I'm sure, if you love very good writing, you will love Kate Atkinson