Saturday, March 15, 2008

A wonderful book launching night: Youth Online and Living on Cybermind

I've just back to Cairns from a week in New Zealand catching up with family, largely through the medium of having meals between painting roofs and walls and doing some gardening. It was a good time, and I traded in a week of rain for a bit of sunning in very pleasant temperatures. The trip back from Christchurch took me through Sydney where I had the honour and the pleasure of launching two recent books: "Youth Online" by Angela Thomas, and "Living on Cybermind" by Jonathan Marshall.

A happier detour is hard to imagine. The event was hosted by Gleebooks, the serious Sydney bookstore. They did the event proud with very generous fare and a warm and expansive space for the event. Before things got underway I had already browsed sufficiently to locate the definitive biography of Joe Strummer (and have since learned I was not the only extremely tough male to weep on the day Joe died -- smile). The authors were, as one would expect, nervous about whether or not anyone would turn up. But they were both in for a pleasant "lesson" on the meaning of collegial respect and friendship.

The seating was overfilled, with many people doing standing room only. The large turnout was a fitting indication of the respect and esteem in which the authors are held in their respective academic areas and in their respective universities and beyond. And some folk had travelled a long way to get there.

After the launch speech we were treated to rich snapshots of what readers could expect in the books, as the authors introduced their work to us. There was the usual round of puchasings and signings at the end, but the biggest impression left on me was the celebratory collegial warmth of the event. This was a very happy occasion. People were genuinely and openly thrilled to be able to celebrate the work and achievement of their two colleagues.

And then a crowd of people adjourned to a nearby cafe to have a full meal and evening's conversation after the launch. Folk turned up with wine and overfilled the two very long tables that had been (optimistically) reserved for this part of the evening.

It was an evening worthy of the books and the authors alike. May there be many more.

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