Joelyn's Book Bites

Book Bites: True Grit w/ David Vann & D.W. Wilson

Book BitseOur short stay in Adelaide was mainly for the Adelaide Writers’ Week, which spanned a week – 1st to 6th March 2014. This was one of the panels the Tiger and I attended during our three days in South Australia.

Whee! Thanks to the Tiger who took this for me.
Whee! Thanks to the Tiger who took this for me.

Held at the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Park, the first thing we saw upon entering the park was this…

The queue to the book signing and book tent area.
The queue to the book signing and book tent area.

First impression’s first, it was a refreshing change from the writer’s events I’ve been to. Apart from the great amount of space and crowd (you could not really feel it because it was relatively spacious), it was bustling with activity. We got a programme pamphlet and souvenir bookmark before heading to the East Stage for a panel called, “True Grit”.

The front booth with its friendly volunteers
The front booth with its friendly volunteers
Schedule for the East Stage
Schedule for the East Stage
Programme pamphlet and free bookmark!
Programme pamphlet and free bookmark!
People about 15 minutes before the panel starts
People about 15 minutes before the panel starts

The panel featured American author David Vann, who wrote books like “Goat Mountain” and “Legend of a Suicide”, and Canadian author D.W. Wilson, writer of “When You Break a Knuckle” and “Ballistics”. Most of their books covering the dark side of human psyche and familial ties, the panel featured them talking about their thought and writing processes.

David Vann (seated middle) and D.W. Wilson (seated right) in conversation
David Vann (seated middle) and D.W. Wilson (seated right) in conversation

The environment was open, yet contained enough that you were able to listen to what the authors had to say even if you were seated way back. Both Vann and Wilson spoke and read from their books, and here are some points I garnered from their conversation:

  • The societal expectations of men (manly = strong, unemotional) vs. their characters (spiritual, influential)
  • Influence of landscape and environment

I took away more mainly from the second point. Thus far, my writing has been incredibly focussed on characters and dialogue, so it was interesting to hear what the authors had to say about environment. Quote Wilson, “Landscape has a voice.”

And to add on, Vann mentioned that it was through the description of the setting where he got his characters and their voices. So that was that.

Wilson during his reading of "Ballistics"
Wilson during his reading of “Ballistics”

The readings and questions went by as usual, though a couple of interesting things happened.

Firstly, it turned out that that weekend coincided with Clipsal 500, which was a racing event in Adelaide. As part of their celebrations, they had a flyover of military planes, which happened just as Wilson was reading out of Ballistics (an artistic perspective on a gunshot). There were many pauses for the noise to pass, but many of us thought it was really apt.

Secondly, the moderator laid two rules before the Q&A – 1) Keep it short, and 2) Do your best to ensure that it’s a question you’re asking. It may sound funny, but I thought it was a brilliant move – just so that as many people as possible with real questions can voice their queries.

The book tent, with all the books arranged by Author and with a middle table featuring books by the authors appearing that day.
The book tent, with all the books arranged by Author and with a middle table featuring books by the authors appearing that day.
D. W. Wilson autographing my book. (and my nervous self giving him a sampler)
D. W. Wilson autographing my book. (and my nervous self giving him a sampler)

All in all, one of the better and more interesting panels I’ve attended. The book signing later on was pretty good as well, despite the burning sun.

To find out more about David Vann, click here. To find out more about D.W. Wilson, click here. And while the Adelaide Writers Week is over, do click here to find out more about what they do and all the other activities that went on during that week.

P/S – This is just one of the categories I’ll be placing my Australian posts in. As mentioned, you can track all our Australian adventures with the tag “adelaide-melbourne adventure 2014”.Blanket Fortress Logo

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4 thoughts on “Book Bites: True Grit w/ David Vann & D.W. Wilson

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