Paperbark Merchants: Paul Kelly-inspired anthology Minds Went Walking “a worthy investment of a reader’s time”

Billie-Jo WhitbreadAlbany Advertiser
Paperbark columnist Billie-Jo Whitbread.
Camera IconPaperbark columnist Billie-Jo Whitbread. Credit: Laurie Benson

When I am engrossed in a book, truly invested in the story, I find I start imagining key narrative components expressed through the lens of other artistic mediums.

For instance, when reading Salt and Skin by Eliza Henry Jones I kept visualising the various plot points and rising tensions of the Managan family manifest in film form.

The dramatically rugged and remote Scottish coastline set my mind’s eye abuzz with cinematic intrigue.

Similarly, while reading Wild Dogs by Michael Trant I conjured the grimy blues music of Tom Waits and the bourbon-soaked country tunes of Towns Van Zandt as a mental soundtrack supporting the exploits of the gruff old dogger Gabe as he traversed the drought-ridden WA outback.

Art whether painted, spoken, written or performed, naturally lends itself to further exploration and interpretation.

The ability to repurpose and reimagine ideas motivates and perpetuates art.

Books become films, paintings become poetry and everything and anything can seemingly end up reinterpreted on a stage somewhere.

Albany author and songwriter Sam Carmody has contributed to the anthology.
Camera IconAlbany author and songwriter Sam Carmody has contributed to the anthology. Credit: Facebook

This very notion of reimagining art is the premise behind Fremantle Press’ 2022 short story anthology Minds Went Walking.

Three Aussie legends of the written word — Jock Serong, Mark Smith and Neil A. White — proposed the idea of reimagining the music and lyrics of Aussie music icon Paul Kelly to 21 Aussie authors.

Each was given a song title and asked to respond to the lyrics and music in short story form.

The beauty of music is that it is open to interpretation. Elements hit each of us uniquely.

Within a few bars, songs can reopen old wounds and dredge up images of the past long forgotten.

What we associate with music and lyrics is uniquely our own.

This makes the resulting anthology, thoughtfully curated by Serong, Smith and White, for me a damn intriguing reading experience.

What will the authors see in Kelly’s words? Where will they take us?

Anthology contributor Sarah Drummond will join Paperbark Merchants for its November book club.
Camera IconAnthology contributor Sarah Drummond will join Paperbark Merchants for its November book club. Credit: Nic Duncan

Containing the visions of Aussie literary treasures like Robbie Arnott and Tim Rogers, and featuring the Great Southern’s own Sarah Drummond and Sam Carmody, this anthology is a worthy investment of a reader’s time.

Minds Went Walking is Paperbark Merchants’ November book club pick.

We will be joined by both Carmody and Drummond at Six Degrees on Wednesday, November 29, to unpack their respective stories and discuss being a part of the anthology.

To find out more about the book club meetings, email events@paperbarks.com.au.

The sister book Into Your Arms: Nick Cave’s Songs Reimagined, recently released by Fremantle Press and edited by Kirsten Krauth, will be launched at the Albany Entertainment Centre on Friday, November 24. Contact the AEC for more information.

Billie-Jo Whitbread is the events co-ordinator and box office manager at Paperbark Merchants in Albany

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