Do you remember fondly flicking through those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books in your childhood? That time when you flicked to page 36 and realised that that act alone would take you swiftly towards your impending doom? Yet, there really was no right or wrong way to read one of those books, because there were multiple adventures that could take your fancy.
On the last day of the Melbourne Writers Festival, Melbourne turned into a giant game of “Choose Your Own Adventure”, where you chose the path, the activity and your exit point in an exercise entitled Lit Hop.
Exploring Melbourne by foot or via the 96 tram, this was an opportunity for locals to get amongst buildings and landscapes which can be passed by (in the usual hustle and bustle of every day life). After collecting tickets, my fellow ‘hoppers’ and I joined the throng at a live literary installation; Memory Makes Us offering punters a cursory glance into the world of live writing. From there it was up to you, you could take part in World War One poetry, a game of Canon Fodder, or drop past the School of Life to reflect on the books that shaped you.
In this particular instance, we joined in the games at Young and Jackson’s – a panel lined up to ask tough questions about that supposedly unopened copy of Ulysses on your bookshelf, or a game of “who wrote what: Hemmingway or your mother”. Backyard barbeque banter ensued.
The adventure continued into the afternoon – when contestants were challenged to spell words like “manoeuvred” or other challenging words of the English language, with a good old-fashioned spelling bee at Queen Victoria Women’s Centre. But the highlight of the day was awarded to Paper Radio’s Radio Karaoke.
The challenge was to pick up a menu, take an existing piece of radio and become part of the work (either as a narrator or character). To get things started, I chose Tom Cho’s The Sound of Music a pseudo pop renovation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic which had me declaring my undying love of “the Fonz” to Mother Superior. I think she understood my dilemma. Later, I reemerged as the voice in Frozen Garbage #61: vocal coach.
The afternoon soon turned into evening and the many varied adventures that one could take continued to multiply out across the city. It’s a fitting end to this year’s Festival, which in itself was a giant Choose Your Own Adventure through some of the best minds and writings that exist today.
Digital Reporters is run in partnership with the Emerging Writers’ Festival.