Hello Good Lifers,
I can’t believe this year is racing away so quickly! I am working hard on the July interview schedule already.
This week’s program was a busy one with four interviews. Three authors and – yes – Vince Jones!!
My first guest, Enza Gandolfo, is the author of a book titled THE BRIDGE, with the historical background of a tragic incident many of us remember well. (I remember it particularly vividly as my Dad had had a stroke the previous night and died the day of this terrible incident.)
The story of this tragedy is told initially through the eyes of a 22 year old Italian migrant, Antonello, married and a father. His personality – and his life – was changed on the day in 1970 when the partially constructed Westgate Bridge collapsed, killing 35 men. It was a day when Antonello should have been working on the bridge span himself, but his shift was changed, so he was spared death but not the terrible sense of guilt that followed.
We move forward to 2009 and meet Jo and Ashleigh, young girls from very different backgrounds but who are best friends and share their lives and their secrets until, through a series of poor decisions by different people, a tragedy occurs and one girl loses her life and the other assumes the burden of guilt and criminal liability.
She tries to escape, but her guilt follows her and changes her life and that of those around her. We share her relationship with Sarah, an older woman who is her lawyer and also something of a mentor.
We meet Antonello again, a grandfather now and with new pain in his life. This is a book, beautifully and movingly written, about love, loss, guilt and regrets.
I really enjoyed speaking with Enza, a Melbourne writer and an Honorary Professor in Creative Writing at Melbourne University. She obviously empathises very strongly with her characters and, because of this, projects their emotions so powerfully.
I highly recommend this book for thought provoking and absorbing reading.
THE BRIDGE – AUTHOR: ENZA GANDOLFO. …………………………………..
Another quite challenging book titled HAPPY AS, written by Lisa Portolan, offers the premise that we are actually being made miserable by our perpetual search for this elusive thing called ‘happiness’!
Lisa describes it in one chapter as ” …an indescribable emotion. Intangible. Ephemeral”.
I congratulated her on her courage in tackling such a difficult topic and expressed my own feeling that we so often don’t recognise happiness except in retrospect. How often do we hear wistful references to “the good old days” or “ah, those were the days..” but were they that at the time or has the memory become a little blurred and just “the good bits” recalled?
We agreed that happiness means very different things over the years. For a teenager it could involve parties, new clothes, flirtations, for a young mother the birth of her baby and for a granny the joy of cuddling a little grandchild.
From an advertising background herself, Lisa acknowledged that that industry often creates the desire, then produces the product to fulfil the desire!
It is a fascinating topic and one which could profitably be pursued in good company over several glasses of red wine!
HAPPY AS… AUTHOR: LISA PORTOLAN ………………………………
I always look forward to Robin Bowles’ books and have had the pleasure of interviewing her on a number of occasions. Robin’s books, which usually focus on true crimes, are meticulously researched, but she also writes with great compassion and empathy and this comes through very strongly in some of the very sad events she describes in her most recent book ACCIDENTAL DEATH?
In this book she explores the background stories to a number of widely publicised deaths and we share the emotional impact on so many lives, as well as the forensic details which Robin loves to investigate.
I asked her how she managed to move on after her involvement in these episodes, especially in this book, where she reveals personal aspects of her own earlier life. I suspect it is because each time she has found another story to pursue!
There are a number of tragic incidents in this book, one particularly moving story was titled Killer Cop. It tells of a young police officer who killed his wife’s lover in a blind fit of rage when he discovered her infidelity. This is a tragedy which obviously deeply affected Robyn and she followed it through the very long series of trials that followed.
The tragic aftermath of this is that two little boys were left fatherless and another had his Dad branded as a murderer.
Perhaps the most tragic story is that of the desperate young African mother, Akon Guode. She had had a harsh early life as a member of the Dinka tribe, who live by very strict tribal rules. After the early death of her young husband, leaving her with young children, she was obliged to ‘marry’ his brother and had more children (believed to actually be through her dead husband.)
After a terrible cross-country journey, she escaped to Australia, where she became involved with a married man and had more children. Tragedy occurred when she drove into a lake with her four younger children in the car, three of whom drowned, while one escaped.
She claimed it was an accident and it was several months before the police arrested her for murder. There was a prolonged and painful trial during which Robin attended regularly until a final verdict was reached. This was a case which obviously deeply affected Robin and she writes about it with very real compassion.
There are six stories in this book, each with its own tragedy, and although it is sometimes painful to read, it is most rewarding.
ACCIDENTAL DEATH? AUTHOR: ROBIN BOWLES ………………………….
It is always a pleasure to hear Vince Jones sing and also to chat with him! On this occasion we were speaking about his upcoming concert with Paul Grabowsky at the Burrinja Theatre in Upwey. The performance covered music from their newly released CD title ‘Provenance’ and included some of their recent compositions as well as more traditional favourites.
I reminded Vince of his very early days when he was a regular guest at jazz clubs and bars around Melbourne, before he moved up North.
As well as being a great jazz singer, Vince is also an accomplished trumpeter and intersperses his vocals with its music.
Since the interview, I have had the pleasure of sharing an evening of the music of Vince and Paul at Burrinja. The theatre was packed and if you missed their performance there, you can see and hear them next Friday 29th June at the Memo, Healesville. Book early.. it is a very popular event! …………………………..
Looking forward to a preview and Q & A session with the stars of BROTHERS’ NEST at the Cameo, Belgrave. I’ll tell you about it on Monday! Thanks to Classic Cinemas for the double pass which was claimed by a listener!
Thanks as always to John weeks, for all he contributes to The Good Life and to friend TJ, who puts this waffle up on the web every week. You can read book reviews on http:/<agoodbookagoodlife.wordpress.com//>
Best regards, Ann
Ann Creber The Good Life on 3MDR 97.1 FM
Live to air every Monday between 3.00-5.00 P.M.