November will see the release of Peter Carey's latest, Olivier and Parrot in America. I was lucky enough to snag an advance of this thumping tome and it's an impressive work. One of the things I like about Carey is that he is very much an Australian abroad so his writing looks at being stretched between two cultures. In his latest Europeans head into the belly of America just as that nation was the hope for democracy.
But don't take my word for it. Here's what the man himself has to say:
Today another Australian writer kicks off a new project. Under the dubious title of Marieke Hardy in Your Hand, The Age has launched a venture into m-fiction, or stories delivered by text. While it may be a first for Australia, cell fiction is already popular in Japan where keitai shosetsu (cell phone novels) have pulled in millions of dollars from subscriptions of less than two bucks a novel. Fairfax are relying on discovering Melbourne's own oyayubi zoku (or thumb tribes) to build up mobile business.
I'm a big fan of Hardy. Her Sex in the City for blokes, Last Man Standing, was under-rated and she's a passionate advocate for new and interesting writing both on First Tuesday Book Club and online. Hardy herself reckons the story will be ‘‘a tragicomedy with a dark underbelly" about ‘‘a socially inept woman who joins a local vigilante group’’. So I've signed-up today.
And the cost of this little experiment? There'll be twenty episodes costing 55c apiece with a sign-on fee of 25c, making for a grand total of $11.25. Each installment will be 70 words so the whole thing looks like being 1,400ish words - about double the length of her regular column.
So it's an interesting exercise - will readers (on any device) pay for stories by an author they know but can read elsewhere for free? This represents a slide of content behind the paywall and I'm keen to see the uptake. The answer is in the quality of the writing as much as the novelty of the device.