Pamela is visiting for the Sydney Writersâ Festival; sheâll be interviewing Colson Whitehead on Saturday night. But our little event was meant to be a more casual affair, and with beers and bites for around 25 New York Times subscribers, Iâd bet a few connections were made among readers and writers.
Pamelaâs conversation with Sarah â which we streamed live to Facebook â explored a wide range of subjects from narrative structure to dreams to New York editors to why women accused of heinous acts tend to draw more attention and scrutiny than men. I found myself shuddering a bit when Sarah said she wrote the book after a dream in which Lizzie showed up beside her bed and told her âmy father has a lot to answer for.â
Nightmares aside, the issue of crime, women and judgment is clearly still with us. Just this week, Australians were treated to extended coverage of Schapelle Corby, the everyday Aussie beach girl who said she is afraid of the media frenzy that will greet her in Australia when she is deported from Bali after spending several years in prison for smuggling marijuana to the Indonesian island.
Thereâs also the trial of Sharon Yarnton, a former prison guard accused of trying to kill her husband by blowing him up in a car after discovering he was having an affair.
And of course, letâs not forget all those smiling portraits weâve seen of blonde Cassie Sainsbury, 22, who was arrested in Colombia last month after police said they found 5.8 kilograms of cocaine in packages that she said she received from a man who deceived her about their contents.
Iâm not sure what these cases (or the fascination they attract) can tell us about Australia, if anything. But Iâm curious how all of you would describe Australiaâs relationship to crime coverage generally, and especially cases involving women.
I admit, there seems to be something deeper going on here with the way these stories are told and consumed, not just in the daily news but also in the writing of authors like Helen Garner. I donât have any grand conclusion or even a specific article in mind but I am sincerely curious and perhaps a bit inspired by an exchange last night between Pamela and Sarah.
It occurred near the end of their discussion, when the dumplings had cooled and the wine glasses emptied. Pamela asked Sarah a question I had also been wondering about: âDo you think there was a benefit to you approaching this American story as an outsider, as an Australian?â
Sarah nodded. âIt can often be easier to come at things as an outsider,â she said. âYou see a lot of things others donât.â
Tell me what you think about that comment, and about my questions on crime and women by emailing us email@example.com.
Subscribers can also join us in the NYT Australia Facebook group for additional enlightening discussion (including a debate about Roger Moore).
Now hereâs my weekly Times roundup and some book recommendations from a few of our âculture clubâ attendees.
P.S. â Thanks to everyone who attended Wednesday nightâs event.
On the Road
Sometimes, great journalism is a matter of empathy on location â you go to a place where the voiceless gather, and you let them speak and reveal their dignity and struggles. This photo-plus-interview piece on truckers in Middle America managed to be both simple and profound.
A 007 for Gen X?
Tony Scott (yes thatâs how heâs known inside The Times) has strong feelings about the death of Roger Moore, arguing that heâs the ultimate James Bond, especially for those of us caught between the eras of Sean Connery and Daniel Craig. Iâm partial to Mr. Connery in part because, well, Jeopardy!
Watching the aftermath of the Manchester bombing, I was reminded of when I was sent to Orlando to cover the attack last year at the Pulse nightclub. At a time when terrorism is once again being closely tied to immigrants and Islam, I thought it might be worth resurfacing my profile of Dr. Joseph Ibrahim and remembering to search for those who play heroic roles in the background of tragedy.
Look, Learn, Remember
Iâm biased, but The Times really does consistently publish the worldâs best photography. This photo essay from the oil fields of Myanmar should not be missed (thatâs one of the photos above) but I also wanted to directly bring you our Lens feature on Matthew Sherwoodâs series about Australiaâs stolen generation.
Here are a few of the images and comments he collected from mixed-race children who had been kidnapped from their families during Australiaâs disastrous experiment with forced assimilation.
âI feel very much that I canâÂÂt connect properly with my family like I would have growing up as brother and sister. I see other families, and how other families act, brothers and sisters, and look at the way they love each other and joke and carry on; we canâÂt do that, because we got no history together, because we were all taken and separated in different ways.â
âThey robbed us. I feel angry. I feel angry about the fact that I canât speak my motherâs language.â
âTo be quite honest, if we didnât have each other, I donât think many of us would have survived. We used each other to counsel each other, just sitting around talking about things, how we felt â the anger â just spending time together and talking about it and reflecting on a lot of those things helped us heal within ourselves.â
… And We Recommend
Finally, here are some of the books and capsule reviews from The New York Times subscribers who joined us at our culture club event in Sydney with Sarah Schmidt and Pamela Paul.
Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
âI read it after I moved to Balmain East and gave me a more developed sense of home to read fiction set here. And even though Peter Carey heavily foreshadowed the ending, it was still a shock.â â Jackie Range
Essential: Essays by the Minimalists by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus
âA handbook in how to âstrip backâ modern life, Iâve found it a great guide for reconnecting with lifeâs most important things.â â Louise Jackett
Joe Cinqueâs Consolation by Helen Garner
âIt is a sad book about a young manâs death and itâs consequences. Itâs an exploration of the legal system and how nothing is as it first appears.â â Andrew Turner