It’s not just any day I go to Real Groovy and look for David Bowie’s idiotic 1967 single The Laughing Gnome. But this is not just any day. It is the day after the night before -- and last night my book Postcards From Elsewhere won the Whitcoulls travel book of the year at the TravCom awards.
I have been very self-effacing about my book, and indeed just minutes before the announcement I was saying to someone that it was just a lightweight summertime reading thing and so on.
(Ironically you couldn’t find in bookshops before Christmas, I was told they clear out such things because large format stocking-fillers by Jamie Oliver and Peta Matthias hog the shelves.)
But I have been modest about my book (my “award-winning book“, ho-ho!), so much so that when I was called to the stage -- and believe me there was no thank-you list prepared in advance -- I referred to the description of it by Chris Bourke (formerly Kim Hill’s producer) who said it was “a dunny book”. He meant that as a compliment.
Anyway, I've been downplaying my book, but no longer. The more I read about people who are “passionate” about mixing cocktails or will “die for” a decent cup of coffee the more I realise we live in an age of pretentious hyperbole.
I’m not about to go down that path, but I am now going to say (and respected judges have concurred) that my book is actually pretty okay. It’s a damn good read (with photos!) and not that expensive either. Even you could afford a copy. (Speaking of which you can buy it through this site, along with other fine books by Public Address bloggers -- and I am suggesting you do, it’s an award winner and I’m “passionate” about travel! It has jokes too.)
So last night was an unexpected delight and I want to go on record here to thank all those who made the book possible, notably the people at Random House and my beautiful wife and loyal supporter Megan without whom . . .
If you can’t afford the meagre $29.95 I think it is in some libraries but, generous fellow that I am, I have also put a couple of sample chapters here -- one about an odd island off the coast of Korea and the other about Breaux Bridge in the bayou -- which also has a number of other travel stories, about 150 photos and some very cool and appropriate music by my son AB.
Check it out, it’s kinda fun.
Also on that site you may read (should you care to) my potted biography which ends -- because it is my CV as I tout for work as well -- with a list of the journalism awards I have won. I say this because there is a weird irony here.
You might note that I have picked up a few awards sponsored by the airlines Qantas and Cathay Pacific. And yet not once -- not even last night when I got a generous cheque for $2000 and $500 in book tokens from Whitcoulls -- have I ever won a trip anywhere.
Given that most travel sections are full of writing by people who have flitted off on a contra deal I might have to investigate that, non?
Aaaaanyway . . . the David Bowie song: I need it for the talk I am giving at the Art Gallery on Sunday (3pm, and it‘s free), a follow-up to the very popular one last weekend which -- I am told by someone who has no reason to fib -- pulled the biggest audience they have had this year.
(That can’t be true of course: we went to hear John Berendt recently and there wasn’t a spare seat in the place -- and at mine there were two.)
Anyway I did find The Laughing Gnome at Real Groovy and maybe later today I‘ll bang it on the stereo.
But right now it’s time for some Panadol, a bottle of Coke and a lie down.
This is not just any day.
PS: For those who wrote in support of my recent post bemoaning the paucity of local coverage about Thailand’s current political woes you might be interested to know that PM Thaksin has just stepped aside. Maybe they’ll have something on the news about it?