Courtenay vs Carey Non-stoush

Photo by Ashley Gilbertson

Photo by Ashley Gilbertson

Australian literary stoushes are generally more hyped than happening. Or perhaps they’re playground fights between two kids who don’t really want to scrap but are egged on by a story-hungry media. Take this week’s Carey vs Courtenay bout.

Carey made some comments in his closing address to the Sydney Writer’s Festival about how “consuming cultural junk … is completely destructive of democracy.‘’ He also made some points about how we would be ashamed by future generations of the environmental damage we’ve wreaked on the planet.

Bryce Courtenay took exception to this calling his fellow author “a perfect example of that kind of inane literacy snobbery” in a Crikey article. To further inflate the bookish biffo, Courtenay accused Carey of “talking absolute bullsh#t” because “More books are being sold today per capita than at any point in history in the country”.

So who’s winning the literary punch-on? Enter ringmaster Stephen Romei at the always witty A Pair of Ragged Claws. He observes that both novelists were once ad men and “On that front, I’m going to score them even, Courtney for creating Louie the Fly and Carey for coming up with "You make us smile, Dr Lindeman”."

But Romei observes that there is some hope of a philatelic resolution of the media-fuelled stoush because both writers featured on Australia Post’s Literary Legends stamps. Romei waggishly suggests that “you can have some fun and stick them on the same envelope if you’re posting a heavy item”.