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It was really good and while the added six days were kind of not good, they were also good. Good.

Here are some photos from my launch, which was held at the divine Sri Ratih Cottages in Ubud, which was also where I stayed.

The Secret Son gets its own stand

The Secret Son gets its own stand

Jen & Athi

Jen & Athi

Pre-launch position in shop

Pre-launch position in shop

Answering one of Athi Kokonis's excellent questions

Answering one of Athi Kokonis’s excellent questions

Signing books afterwards

Signing books afterwards

spot the poodle with expat Steve who lives in Ubud

spot the poodle

Sri Ratih welcome Marigolds

Sri Ratih welcome Marigolds

A good crowd

A good crowd

Wonderful Sri Ratih staff

Wonderful Sri Ratih staff

It was really fun doing a launch with a different format. First, Athi Kokonis introduced me and the book. Then we began a kind of author Q&A. I’d told her I didn’t want to know what the questions would be, so my answers would be more natural. It worked well. I did three short readings – one from James’s narrative (the historical storyline); one from Cem’s (the contemporary) and one from Berna, the old woman in the village who sees things that others can’t.

We had audience questions afterwards, and there were quite a few, which was really good too. Nothing worse than no one’s hand going up.

Upcoming will be some posts on sessions I went to at the festival, including the Chigozie Obioma low-down.

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I was due to fly home Tuesday 3 November and only got back this morning. It was a bit hairy taking off from Denpasar. The sun had set, a fiery ball of orange, and there was an eerie haze. But it was fine. Flew to Jakarta and from there to Melbourne. Funnily, I’d booked Garuda because last time there was a volcanic ash problem (in July this year), Garuda was the airline that kept flying, when Virgin and Jetstar cancelled. But I was too smart for my own good, because when I was rescheduled to fly out Thursday 5 November, I found I was too nervous, and rebooked for last night. By the time yesterday came around, Garuda had been flying and Air Asia as well, so I felt more comfortable. I will say though that I got about four more massages, six more margaritas and ten more swims in during the extra time spent. And got to know other stranded people which was the best thing about being stuck.

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While away I read most of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It is the most amazing book, and I really really mean AMAZING. Super heavy going if you can’t do confronting dark stuff. Several times I got teary. Several other times I folded the page to mark a particularly spectacular expression of interiority. I read things I have never read in a book before. I will return to this in a not-review BUT what I want to say just now is that lying by the pool, my eye skipped ahead and caught a word that was so unexpected, so shocking, so devastating that I snapped the book shut with a cry of alarm, put my sarong over my head and wept. Put the book mark in, closed it, and have not read any more for over a week now. I will finish it but I am girding myself. I can’t believe it has had this effect on me, and once I’m finished I really will need to debrief. Stunning.

*

So what did I read while I wasn’t finishing A Little Life? My friend had a copy of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Now if you go to my Goodreads page, youll see I gave this book one star.’I read about half, remember suffering my way through it, until putting it aside. Well. I started from the beginning and I have no idea why I didn’t like it because now I think it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. Whatever bothered me seems to have evaporated. So I will be re-starring it, and I think I need to apologise to all the lovers of this book out there, Kate in Kew is one. I get it. I get it. I get it. And I see the imagery and symbolism now! So glad I went back to it (although I have one reservation. I’m within the last 70 pages I think now, and it’s a little slackened for me, and in the tying up of all the threads I’m seeing a bit of overwrought writing. But before that, brilliant.)

*

At Jakarta Airport I bought Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, and consumed it on the flight to Melbourne. Have almost finished it as well, and again, many pages dog-eared to mark worthy thoughts or passages. So much resonance for me in this book, especially about curiosity, and the connection between happiness and living a creative life, whatever that means.

So I have three books which I will finish over the next week or sooner.

And then, and then. I have to read The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rys for book club, and I also have to do a 5 books that influenced me for a website author thingy, including one from childhood. What 5 would you pick?

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