Write of Passage: Popular Nostalgia
George Bernard Shaw once quipped that ‘youth is wasted on the young’. Was he issuing sage wisdom about ageing … or was he just a huge fan of The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants?
From The Goldfinch to Vernon God Little, Goodbye, Columbus to Jane Eyre, there’s a long history of coming-of-age novels targeted squarely at an adult audience. Young adult books, meanwhile, are increasingly attracting their own armies of impassioned older readers. What is it about bildungsroman narratives that continues to fascinate adults, and what distinguishes an ‘adult’ coming-of-age story from a work of young adult fiction? Do we find a sense of catharsis in revisiting the heady emotions of youth – albeit from the safe distance of (apparent) maturity?
Tegan Bennett Daylight writes for adults, young adults, and children, and her new short story collection, Six Bedrooms, offers glimpses of the angst, embarrassment, and beauty of adolescence. Liam Pieper’s charming works of memoir interrogate his own misspent youth. And in his celebrated debut Shadowboxing, Tony Birch captures the experience of growing up in inner-Melbourne in the 1960s.
With host Toni Jordan, they’ll explore what it means to read and write about young adulthood from a grown-up perspective – and share the coming-of-age stories that have meant the most to them.
Toni Jordan is the author of four novels. The international bestseller Addition (2008) was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick, and was longlisted for the Miles Franklin award. Fall Girl (2010) was published internationally and has been optioned for film, while Nine Days (2012) was awarded Best Fiction at the 2012 Indie Awards, shortlisted for the ABIA Best General Fiction award and named in Kirkus Review’s Top 10 Historical Novels of 2013. Her latest novel is Our Tiny, Useless Hearts (2016). Toni has been published widely in newspapers and magazines.
Tegan Bennett Daylight is a critic, teacher and fiction writer. She is the author of several books for children and teenagers, including the novels Bombora, What Falls Away and Safety. Her stories appear in a wide range of Australian journals, including Griffith Review, Meanjin and Best Australian Stories. She lives in the Blue Mountains with her husband and two children.
Liam Pieper’s grandmother introduces him to her friends, as ‘my grandson who writes for the Internet’. You might find his work in the Monthly, Meanjin, The Best of The Lifted Brow, Going Down Swinging and The Sleepers Almanac. He is the author of a memoir, The Feelgood Hit of The Year; a collection of essays, Mistakes Were Made; and a novel, The Toymaker. Find him on Twitter, @liampieper.
Tony Birch is the author of Ghost River, which won the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing, and Blood, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. He is also the author of Shadowboxing, and three short story collections – Father’s Day, The Promise and Common People.
Tony is a frequent contributor to ABC local and national radio, and a regular guest at writers’ festivals. He lives in Melbourne and is a Senior Research Fellow at Victoria University.