Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 11/10/2011

This time last year I was in the grip of pleurisy. Breathing was difficult and, I’m pretty sure you’ll all agree, taking a breath is probably more important than what’s on the telly tonight.
To be fare, I should have spent time pondering the question: what will the God’s chuck at me this year? They have answered - a sore tooth.
My last sore tooth was at least 20 years ago and when my dentist at the time, a humorous chap called Rob, pulled it, he pulled it clean and healthy and all was good.
Rob was the kind of bloke who left jokes on his counter, not all of them funny and none funny enough to keep the smile on your dial while he stuck needles, miniature crowbars and other implements into your gum.
Dentists, by nature, are not happy people and not surprising given they spend most of their day looking down in the mouth. We are no help, because when we arrive we are in pain, vulnerable and as soon as the drill starts up we sweat from unusual places.
There are two things important to me in a dentist, okay three, because I do insist on a white coat. Then there’s competence and a sense of humour.
My Albany dentist has both and given the history of this column dictates that I make up a name, let’s call him or her, Doctor Hamersley. A column, you should all know by now, is not to be taken as an accurate account of what took place. We have a reputation for exaggeration, hyperbole and, well, making stuff up.
Dr Hamersley wanted to save the tooth: “It’s a good idea for people at your age to save as many teeth as possible.”
My age? That got me going. Then I remembered how old I was and settled into the excellent chair where, I must admit, I have fallen asleep as the drill entered a nasal passage.
I’m not sure why, perhaps because I am a clean and sober man, but the injections failed to numb my gum, my cheek or any part of me. The first session ended in failure and I had to return.
The needles worked this time, almost, and while Doc Hamer pushed, pulled and tugged, I was not bereft of pain, but by then I was so eager for the devil’s tooth to get behind me that I gritted and bore it.
You’d want the story to end there, but no, the devil wasn’t done. He arranged for an infection and I had to go back.
Next visit I’m having them all ripped out and then you can call me gummy.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Writer's in the Library - Jon Doust "Boy on a Wire"

Date: 18 October
Venue: Mandurah Library
Contact Details:
Mandurah Library
Phone: 9550 3650

Sent to boarding school at a young age, Jack Muir decided he's a survivor. He gets by with a quick wit and fast mouth. Others aren't so lucky. The Age called Jon Doust "a writer with a distinctive voice" while The West Australian said the book was "a hilarious, angry and sympathetic portrait of boys behaving badly.
Boy on a Wire was long listed for the Miles Franklin Award in 2010.

Jon Doust was born in Bridgetown and has had diverse careers from banking to comedy.
His second novel - To the Highlands - is due for release in August 2012.

Book your seat at the Library - space is limited so book now to avoide disappointment.

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 27/9/2011

Here’s the thing about conversation, the guts, the meat: I say something, you listen, then you say something, I listen and so on, back and forth until we tire of each other, or one of us raises a fist.

At its best, it’s an art form. There are folk in this region who have a fine handle on the art and craft and I would consider them to be master practitioners.

There are, of course, others who stare with a great blank wash on their faces and sometimes small flickers of fear.

We should not abuse them, for natural conversation may be denied them because of a committed introversion, or because your face reminds them of a monster from a dream they once had at a very early age. Or even the night before.

There are others who believe they have mastered conversation but what they have is an intense belief in their right to speak non-stop in the face of anyone who gives them one tiny window of opportunity.

This is not conversation. This is hammer-speak.

This column, for example, is part of a conversation I am having in my head, but it is meant for you, the reader. And if you see me in the street, you are more than welcome to approach me and continue it.

Take care, of course, because some days I am more volatile than others.

You always know when you have had a good conversation, because you feel like you have been listened to and not yelled at.

My father was a good conversationalist, until that point where he felt like he was in an argument, then something grew in him and he became an opinion evangelist. His primary objective quickly shifted and he had to make you agree with him, to admit that he was right and you were wrong.

It could have been about anything, the colour blue, the core message of Karl Marx, the future of old growth forests, or the best way to fish for trout.

I miss the old bastard.

Now, to bring this piece to a head, I’d like to take the opportunity to remind the electronically hooked, that email, Facebook, sms, Skype, and so on, all belong to the same genre. They are vehicles for conversation.

Here’s how it should go: I email you, you read, respond, make some points of your own, ask a question or two, I read, respond, and so on.

Oh, there is one major advantage - no need for the fist. You simply delete.