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Lovely review by Lana Guineay of ‘Fables Queer & Familiar’:

There is so much joy in this pithy collection of 52 short ‘fables’. Starting life as at the online serial ‘Adelaide Days’ and broadcast by Radio Adelaide, the fables – one for each week of the year – are delightful, laugh-out-loud snapshots of the lives of ‘lesbian grannies’ Anne and Julia, their extended family, friends, and community.

The grannies are longtime activists who keep their sharp eyes on politics. They’re outraged by the treatment of refugees. They’re keen judges of the hats at Adelaide Writers’ Week. This is Adelaide through a leftie, lesbian, ageing, and activist lens, full of local references and locations; from the Markets, to beach trips to the Yorke Peninsula, Haighs, the Christmas Pageant and WOMAD.

It’s a wry, affectionate look at “this small dry city on a narrow plain, next to an unspectacular gulf”, as well a politically-engaged story of family, longterm love, ageing, and childhood. Merrilees’ light-hearted style makes it a delight to dip in and out of the fables, or read them all in a single sitting.

By the end you may find yourself agreeing with Alison Bechdel: “I wish I could live in the hilarious, delightful, and very queer world of these Fables”. There’s always its follow-up, Further Fables Queer and Familiar.

Full Adelaide Review Article here:

Reading the city: Adelaide in six books

Here’s a lovely interview with the wonderful Peter Burdon on Radio Adelaide (PS it’s not true that nobody reviewed ‘Big Rough Stones’!!):

Further Fables Queer & Familiar, not just a book (Further Fables) but now also in astounding audio – read by me! Listen in to Radio Adelaide 101.5FMPacked Lunch at midday every Monday from 17 February 2020, or Arts Breakfast every Saturday 9-11am from 22 Feb.

Here’s a little sample to get you started:

The book was launched in Adelaide on 23/11/19 by the remarkable Rosanna Maeder (read her words here: launch)

And here is my acknowledgement of country – I’ve been trying to work out a more comprehensive version. (Country)

We pay our respects to Kaurna elders – past present and future. This Kaurna country we meet on, like all of Australia, was stolen, was never ceded to us whitefellas.

On this colonised land we developed a society that has been divisive and violent in many ways – to the Indigenous custodians, to other people of colour, to anyone ‘different’, to the land itself.

We are now in a time of crisis, a climate emergency. We have to face what we’ve done and stop doing it, find a better way. Part of that must be, at long last, to acknowledge white power and privilege, and to get on with the job of dismantling them.

This is our commitment to the Kaurna elders, to all Indigenous Australians, to all people of colour (the global majority), to the Earth, and to ourselves.

We CAN do it!

1. FURTHER FABLES QUEER & FAMILIAR Mag Merrilees and Chia Moan

Victoria is delighted to help Gran unscrew the U-bend. She always guessed there was another world beyond the plughole.

Welcome to the hidden complexities of life in an ordinary Australian suburb. Who will fix the plumbing? How do you adapt to a trans person in the family? Fix racism and make a safe haven for refugees? Keep up with the housework? And what on Earth do you do about the climate emergency? Following the earlier volume of FABLES QUEER & FAMILIAR – here we present the sequel, the complete instructions for how to be a lesbian granny.

Join Mag and Chia for the LAUNCH:

Saturday 23 November 2019, 2pm. Treasury 1860,144 King William Street,Adelaide. All welcome!

 

2. WRITING WORKSHOP Mag Merrilees

LABELS, PRONOUNS AND BEYOND: WRITING QUEER

A safe place to explore the challenges and pitfalls of writing queer lives (whether you’re gay, straight or in between). Everything from profound questions of identity, to avoidance of the token gay brother, to the nitty gritty of pronoun-use. Join Mag for a fun and frank practical session!

Saturday 7 December 2019, 1.30-4.30pm. $115 (Writers SA Members $77)

Registration essential: Writers SA

Extinction Rebellion is at the iconic ruins of the Port Willunga jetty, hanging up banners.

Climate Truth Now.

Climate Act Now.

A high tide laps around the poles and the banners are lit by a glowing sunset. It looks like the ending of the world, like Venice sinking beneath the waves, a last remnant of civilization. Peaceful but infinitely sad.

Some beach walkers are pleased, some are outraged, though most relax when they realise that the banners will not damage the poles, and that they are only temporary. Photo-opportunity re-usable graffiti.

‘Anyway,’ says Julia, ‘isn’t that the whole point – that our priorities are up the spout? For goodness sake! They’re worrying about damage to a bunch of old poles when we’re about to lose the whole biosphere?’

She has less patience for public relations than Anne.

The grannies are fed up with Australia’s decades-old paralysis on the issue of climate change, with the total failure of political leadership. Does the ever-powerful mining lobby have the entire system in its pocket? Or is it simply that soon-to-be-gazetted psychological disorder called climate denial, in which the sufferer can no longer recognise truth or reality.  Whatever it is, Julia and Anne, like thousands of others around the world, have decided to shove things along by joining the Rebellion. Non-violent civil disobedience. Back to the 1960s.

Making banners is fun, a community activity, the very size of them satisfying in itself. Great big statements. The process is pleasingly low tech – sheets from the op shops, water based paint, stretchy bike tubes at the corners and old carabiners from an ex-mountain climber. They flexed their rusty political muscles by hanging them on the freeway at peak hour, a warm-up for more exciting targets like the jetty.

Occupying Parliament House takes more courage. But by now they’re getting used to the tremble of fear in the belly. And really, what can happen to them? All thirteen, mostly grandparents, sit calmly on the opposition benches, knitting, showing photos of the special children in their lives, taking it in turn to tell moving stories of what brings them there.

Increasingly senior people arrive in succession to tell them to leave. Two of the rebels greet each new arrival and patiently explain the action. The Clerk of the House, the Sergeant at Arms, messages from the Speaker. Anne wants to see the Usher of the Black Rod. She pictures someone in medieval costume, or is that only in England?

Eventually they are removed with varying degrees of force. Some of the security people are responsive to cries like ‘not that shoulder’ or ‘be careful of my knee’. Others are less sympathetic. Being dragged out, Anne finds, is both undignified and painful, since her escort has doubled up her wrist.

But the media like the event, so hopefully a point is made. First point of many to come.

Anne makes a list of everything to remember next time:

–  start with yoga

– glasses case

– driver’s licence in pocket

– wrist splints

– neck brace?

– leave hearing-aids out?

She ponders.

Oh yes.

– Stay-Dry incontinence pads

She sits up straighter, always so strengthening to have a list!

She reads it through and thinks about the long road ahead. She adds a note at the bottom.

– DON’T GIVE UP!

jetty 3

[photo Lynn Lobo]

Great review from Whispering Gums: https://whisperinggums.com/2018/11/09/margaret-merrilees-big-rough-stones-bookreview/

Hope to see any enthusiastic Adelaide readers on Saturday at 2.30 at The Treasury (King William St)!!

2.30-4.30pm at The Treasury 1860, 144 King William St, Adelaide

I’ll be reading from ‘Big Rough Stones’ and ‘Fables Queer & Familiar’. A chance to reflect on some of those great ideas: ideological soundness, non-monogamy, collectives …
$5 at the door

If you’re in Melbourne come along to Handsome Her  (206 Sydney Rd, Brunswick) on 26 August at 4pm. See you then!

I’ll be at Sophia on Saturday week if you’re in Adelaide. Hopefully it will be raining – so come along, shelter from the storm, and we’ll talk books. 225 Cross Rd, Cumberland Park (parking off Hill Ave). See you there!

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