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Almost A Mirror: Kirsten Krauth, live music and 80s soundtracks

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Hasn’t life been hard in the pandemic? And let’s be honest, not that much fun?

Well, here’s a treat for you

Award-winning author Kirsten Krauth, who hails from Castlemaine in Victoria, has written an extraordinary novel called Almost a Mirror. The book explores music, memory, creativity and motherhood, moving between the early 1980s and contemporary life—an 80s scene where the pop world of Countdown collided with the post-punk scene of St Kilda’s Crystal Ballroom: the early days of Nick Cave and The Birthday Party.

Set up as a mixtape, each chapter of the novel is an 80s song. It’s a book that comes with its own soundtrack.

This is where you come in! You’re invited to a free online event this Wednesday night (24 June) at 7.30, that involves Kirsten Krauth talking about Almost a Mirror with the incredible Canberra-based journalist Ginger Gorman. (Ginger told us she’s addicted to the book and can’t put it down!).

Wait. There’s more. As part of the event, there will be LIVE MUSIC with a band featuring Canberra (now Braidwood) legend Mikelangelo (Michael Simic), Richard Andrew (Underground Lovers) and Michaela Davies on bass who will weave their magic in with Kirsten reading from the novel. This event will be streamed live from the Infidel Studios in Queanbeyan.

Wondering what songs you might hear? There may be Madonna. There may be The Birthday Party. There may be the Models. And don’t miss Candy Bowers, who brings her amazing writing/performative style to the proceedings.

This Canberra (OK, Queanbeyan) event, is part of The Wednesday Night Book Club—a program of events set up by journalist Tracey Spicer to help out authors whose books were released into the COVID world.

With festivals cancelled, bookstores closed and launches (with readers actually in attendance) postponed, it was tough-going for many writers who had put their heart and soul into their books only to see them about to fall into the abyss. Tracey created an exciting program of diverse Australian women writers.

“Wednesday Night Book Club is like a warm hug on a cold night,” explains Tracey. “It provides a platform for authors and performers to share their ideas, at a time when the usual festivals and events are cancelled. There’s a lovely sense of loyalty from the audience. (In fact, one viewer emailed last week to apologise that he wouldn’t be online the following week, as he was going away to the mountains for a digital detox!)”

Kirsten wearing Nick Cave’s suit. Photography: Penny Ryan.

“We are tremendously excited about the live music component of Kirsten’s upcoming ‘in conversation’ with Ginger. I lived in Melbourne during the post-punk era, so the setting of the book brings back vivid memories. Almost a Mirror speaks to the evocative power of music in our lives. This is going to be an incredibly special event, for lovers of music and literature alike.”

Kirsten Krauth wrote Almost a Mirror as part of a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Canberra. Her thesis won the Stephen Parker University Medal for Most Outstanding PhD at the university in 2019 and the novel was shortlisted for the Penguin Literary Prize.

She has since been awarded a Donald Horne Creative and Cultural Fellowship to develop the book into a podcast, looking at the cultural history of the Australian 80s songs that feature in the book, taking us back to ‘Change in Mood’, ‘Wide Open Road’, ‘Barbados’ and ‘Shivers’.

The book was published by Transit Lounge in April.

Head here to register for the event. It’s free and you can take part via Zoom webinar or Facebook Live.

Feature image: Penny Ryan

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