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June 20, 2010

I picked up this book with some small amount of trepidation as well as a little excitement. Michael Gawenda is my cousin’s uncle and I must have seen and probably spoken to him when I was young but I don’t actually recall doing so. I was trepidacious about reading a book written by someone so close to me and excited as I know his background and I expected him to be a fairly good writer. I was not disappointed, the writing was polished and professional and has a lovely use of words, I really appreciated Gawenda’s word usage. I has to reread many parts as I found myself thinking there was a typo as it just didn’t look right, but on rereading I found I was just putting the pauses or the emphasis in the wrong place and when I changed the way I read it the passage meant something entirely different…it was delightful. I was particularly taken with the chapters written by his children, Chasky and Evie, as the writing was a completely different style to Gawenda, it was great to see the difference in writing between the generations and to get a different view of him and his interactions with his dogs.

The book was originally published as a blogon the Crikey website and only some of the entries were deemed suitable for publication in book formatha. It is composed of the things that occurred to him while he was walking his dog, Rocky and covered so many different topics. Gawenda posted his last entry on 18th November 2009, he is still around and I’m sure we’ll see him doing other things, just not posting on his blog.

Last weekend I was at Limmud Oz, a Festival of Jewish Learning and Culture. It was an exciting weekend and was jam-packed full of fabulous presentations. One of the sessions was taken up by a Media Q and A, just like the programme on ABC1 but with Jews who work in the media as the panel, one of whom was Gawenda. I was still in the middle of this book and took it with me although I’m still trying to figure out why. I’m sure I’ve already discussed that I’m generally not interested in signatures and I feel it would have been a little crass for me to hold it out to him asking for his signature so as to increase the selling value. I was within earshot when he spoke to a friend of his who asked about his book and I could have easily pulled it out in time and popped over there but I didn’t.

I do think I’ve been totally mixed up by the internet’s social media. The Media Q and A took about an hour and during most of that time I was wanting to refresh my screen so I could check out what other people were saying on Twitter. I generally don’t watch the ABC1 programme on TV, Q and A, as the other members of my house want to watch other things but I do watch it on Twitter and it’s most amusing reading what other people think of the programme. If you’re interested you can check it out yourself using the hash tag #qanda I particularly missed Leslie Cannold who regularly comments on the number of men and women on the panel, she would have had a field day as we had one woman and four men.

I will have a couple of other sessions to write about in the future when I’ve had time to idigest them and look over my notes. They were not easy sessions to attend as you’ll find out in due course and I hope you’ll stay tuned in here to find out more details, but it could be a while.

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