The Brisbane City Council has a project entitled One Book Many Brisbanes that aims to encourage people to read and discuss books. The project has resulted in the emergence and recognition of a number of writers. The One Book One Community initiative was established by the Washington Centre for the Book in the United States in 1998 and has been embraced in various centres around the world.
In Brisbane it led to the publication of the One Book Many Brisbanes anthologies, the first of which was published in 2006. More than 600 entries were received for the 2008 edition and the 10 winners won $6,000 each and had their stories published in the anthology.
The original One Book One Brisbane competition boosted the careers of Australian writers such as Peter Carey, Rosamond Siemon, Rebecca Sparrow, David Malouf and Kimberley Starr, according to Lord Mayor Campbell Newman's message in the 2006 edition of One Book Many Brisbanes. Chief executive officer of the Queensland Writers Centre and a judge in the competition Kate Eltham says that the small stories of Brisbane life have stayed with her, “the stories of finding love on the local bus, or living by the railway line during wartime, or the long, sodden slog of a Brisbane summer”. She adds: “Because this is my town, and these are our stories. This is the literature of West End and Geebung and Mitchelton. This is the literature of the flood, the bridge, the river and the figs, written not by artists living a government-funded but by all of us.”
Looking for an audio book to read while driving and doing the housework, I noticed Great Australian Railway Stories by Bill ‘Swampy' Marsh. An ABC production, these short stories will be of great interest to anyone who enjoys history, particularly relating to the olden days of steam railway in Australia. There are some funny and dramatic stories told by people who were directly involved, as well as families. The production does have some offensive language. Incidentally Marsh is an author, songwriter and playwright who has written numerous books about his personal experiences, as well as stories of others including Great Flying Doctor Stories, Great Australian Shearing Stories, Great Australian Droving Stories, and More Great Flying Doctor Stories.
The audio book that I'm listening to at the time of writing is Hidden Agenda. Described as a book about a woman Suzy who faces execution in Louisiana for murdering her two children, it sounded like a rather heavy going court drama. However, focusing mainly on her past relationships with school friends and an art teacher, I found Hidden Agenda an intriguing story about friendships and the experiences of the women who played an important part in Suzy's life. There is no connection to Australia in the book, but quite by accident I found references to Cape Town where one of Susie's school friends settled after leaving the United Kingdom where they had all grown up.