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Hi it’s Bernard Cohen here. I’m sitting in the office here at Varuna Writers’ Centre and I’m going to read you a couple of extracts from Tourism which is coming up to its 20th anniversary and I’ve carefully selected these extracts to completely misrepresent the book. The first of them is Broome.
It’s snowing in the kitchen. Fanatics beat at the door, but we chase them away, saying: ‘I am an arrangement of minerals possessed by demons.’ And they do go, and they do not return.
The day is warm and breezy. Bands of high cloud move across the sky. There is a small right-angled triangle of sea [visible] between the side of a hotel, the sloping roof of an apartment block and the horizon. The wind brings us the sound of waves breaking. Salt precipitates on the windows. There is no one moving about.
We are talking quietly. I am saying, ‘You look more gorgeous than at any other time in your history.’ The day is all our own.
And the second extract is called Coolgardie.
This is where to kiss. This is the place to gently proffer the top lip, to curl the bottom lip open, and to close the pair of them around one of someone else’s lips. Lean forward. Tilt the head. Close your eyes and open your mouth. Start slowly now. There’s plenty of time for kissing ’round here. There’s time to peck and nip and – smooch and – what the heck – there’s time to suck face, to immerse your tongue completely, to slide around the mouth nose chin on a slick of saliva. Hell, be delicate, be controlled. Be passionate. Be clumsy as a pup. Feel the easy accident of tooth against tooth. Be as accurate as an anteater. Smack those lips noisily. Kiss until your lips go completely numb. Kiss until you want to laugh at every flick of the tongue, at every gymnastic stretch. Kiss as you move to the bedroom and do not separate for a moment as you undress. Coat your unconscious with the twitching dream-kisses of your lover.”
ABOUT BERNARD COHEN:
Bernard Cohen is the author of four novels and a picture book. His awards include the 1997 Vogel Prize, 2001 Arts Council of England Writer’s Award and three inclusions in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelists.
Bernard founded The Writing Workshop in 2006 and has since run creative writing workshops for over 12,000 children.
“I received a Varuna fellowship around 1994-ish and this was a factor in moving to Katoomba for a few years in the second half of the 1990s which was a factor in joining the Varuna Board (part of my role was to help produce the newsletter). I served on the Board till moving to the UK for a stint in 1999.” Bernard Cohen
Tourism ( Kindle edition; first published Picador, 1992)
The Blindman’s Hat (Allen and Unwin 1997; winner, Australian/Vogel Award)
Snowdome (Allen and Unwin 1998)
Hardly Beach Weather (HarperCollins 2002; buy from Shearer’s, Berkelouw’s)
Paul Needs Specs (children’s picture book Penguin 2003, Kane/Miller USA 2004; available from US stores including this one)
Speedfactory (co-authored with John Kinsella, McKenzie Wark and Terri-ann White; Fremantle Arts Centre Press 2002; buy direct from publisher)
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