Friday at MWF

From a sold-out theatre, to a standing ovation, our Friday evening at the Athenaeum was insightful, eye-opening and uplifting.

We welcomed two-time Booker nominee Paul Murray to Melbourne with a sold-out session to discuss The Bee Sting – the buzziest book of the summer.

In conversation with Michael Williams, Murray revealed that The Bee Sting, the 650-page tragicomic blockbuster that may or may not have made us cry on the train started off as a “slim romantic comedy”. He described his writing process as like “air leaving a balloon” and told the rapt audience that “you can’t write a book from your head, it’s coming from another place”.

The Irish novelist described writing the first draft of a novel – which he always writes by hand! – as the beginning of a love affair. Dating is a metaphor Murray called upon often during this conversation, comparing testing ideas on a page to swiping right and ‘matching’ on dating apps (sometimes it’s right in theory, but the spark just isn’t there). That’s how that “slim romantic comedy” Murray planned to write turned into the heart-breaking and beloved family saga we are celebrating today.

And yes, Williams asked about that ending. “It came very early and I didn’t try to change it…. At the end, you get back to the start. Everything is the same, but everything is different.”

If you missed out on this event, you can still catch Paul Murray at Familiar Haunts: Paul Murray and Bryan Washington at 10.30am, Sunday 12 May. 

Next, we welcomed the multi-talented Ziggy Ramo to the stage to discuss his debut memoir Human? with Jan Fran for an event that was one for the books.  

Ramo’s Human? is just one piece of the multi-dimensional project that is Ramo exploring his lived experience through the lens of this country’s colonial history and inter-generational trauma.

“When I wrote Black Thoughts [his 2020 album], I wanted to be heard, and with this project I wanted to be understood.” Ziggy revealed that the inspiration for spreading this project across multiple mediums actually came from Zelda, the video game. Ramo hopes you can "choose your own adventure". 

Ending the session with an acoustic rendition of ‘Little Things’, the crowd joined in at the chorus to sing along to Paul Kelly’s famous line ‘From little things big things grow’.

It seems like such a small thing to acknowledge the humanity of others, but it’s something Ramo has had to grapple with as his humanity, and the humanity of his ancestors, was and is, not acknowledged by this country’s government.

Ramo spoke of his own lived experience living with inter-generational trauma with deep insight and compassion, explaining that “when we ignore self-determination and deny humanity it becomes cyclical. The same symptoms are demonstrating themselves over and over again...

“In the end, don’t we all have a stake in the human race?” 

If you missed out on this event, you can still see Ziggy Ramo in conversation at Who Gets To Be Human? this morning, Sat 11 May, 10.30am.