Sunday, June 03, 2012

a year ago today: publicity for the bogan delusion

Hot on the publicity trail for my book. This is actually the second book with my name on it in the last six months, but it is so much of a different ball game it might as well not be a book but a… saucepan. The previous book Community which I co-edited and co-wrote much of, is a broad and deep account of the establishment, creation, form, style and fate of community buildings in Australia since the beginning of the last century. It is huge and I am very proud of it. The current one, The Bogan Delusion is a ‘ranty tract’ (I described it as such in most drafts of the book itself, and perhaps that description has sustained, I don’t remember).

Yesterday morning I had 15 mins on RRR and it was really fun, I felt very comfortable. Last night in a related (but unacknowledged – I don’t think the book came up at all) event I was on a panel talking about music journalism, at the Tote as part of the Emerging Writers Festival. This morning I was on Life Matters with Richard Adey.

This radio coverage is all still a bit novel to me so I don’t quite know how well I do. Like a dufus this morning I had to ring first my wife then my mother immediately after the show to make sure I hadn’t fucked it up! They were very nice about it (but maybe they have to be?) I think they would have told me in nice ways if I screwed something up.

It didn’t help that left to my own devices for the first 10 minutes of the hour I was flipping through the book and found that I had made a huge error about the location of one of the estates planned by the Griffins in early 20th century Melbourne. This would have been annoying enough, except that I am the author of a journal article about huge errors made about the location of estates planned by the Griffins! (I got the names ‘Avondale Heights’ and ‘Ascot Vale’ mixed up, as I continually do in real life). Oh well, I covered myself in that article by saying everyone makes mistakes… so it’s just sort of proving my own point isn’t it. Maybe I could even pass it off as an ironic reference (get real).

Anyway, Adey was interesting. I had been prepped in a minor way about where the i/v might go, in a discussion with his producer who is very nice and very engaged (so was Richard Adey). So there was nothing out of the blue, though the producer had not pumped me for what my answers might be. The set up at the beginning was that my premise was that the bogan ‘didn’t exist’, which is a good hook (indeed, the whole ‘bogan delusion’ idea is a hook really – if the book was called Society Should Be Inclusive it might not be so hot this June) and that there were so many definitions of the bogan that it rendered the notion unusable. Then there were about 8 or 9 callers who proceeded to explain why the bogan did exist and give it various different definitions, many of which contradicted each other. I then was able to conclude by saying all this diversity of opinion really proved my point, and I felt good about that. I did notice about myself (and I will have to keep this in check from now on) that my voice went up in pitch as I became more exasperated about putting this conclusion across, and there was a bit of triumphalism about that, in a manner of speaking, which possibly didn’t do the showbiz aspect to Life Matters any favours. I also feel that, in a way, there is a danger that this is the diametric opposite of preaching to the converted, with a negative effect i.e RN listeners are exactly the sort of people who don’t want to hear what I have to say, and may not buy a book about it. On the other hand the only reason I care about whether they buy a book about it is that I don’t want the publisher to lose money, because I certainly don’t stand to gain from it, and wouldn’t really get much from it even if I hadn’t agreed to take a royalty of nothing so as to keep the price down.

As I was doing Life Matters I kept notes in case anything came up that I needed to refer to, though in fact ultimately I think I did only refer specifically back to one caller, because I was interested in his comment ‘I’m not racist’ and his discussion of ‘trailer trash’. Another caller who I really wanted to discuss, but didn’t get a chance, was the one who spoke about identifying bogans by their ‘sudden body movements’, which I think is one of the strangest things anyone could say about anyone. But I had to let it go as I was being guided by RA.

All in all, I feel fairly positive about the whole thing, and I reckon I can handle this media train. The downside will be in a couple of weeks when I’m going to be fatigued and lacking in interest about the whole schtick (there are already, it has to be said, signs of that happening and it’s hard to be new, over and over again, about something I am already very well acquainted with).

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