The Weekend Australian - Review - - Essay - Tim Dou­glas

Stephen Romei sits down with Sal­man Rushdie to­day ahead of the re­lease of the au­thor’s lat­est book, The Golden Hour. It’s a crack­ing in­ter­view. I won’t spoil it here (turn to pages 16-17), but I will say Rushdie’s Aus­tralian ties run deep, and he’s fun­nier than you might think. Au­di­tions be­gin next week for ar­guably the most in­ter­est­ing univer­sity de­gree in the coun­try. Ap­pli­ca­tions close to­day for NICA’s bachelor of cir­cus arts at Swin­burne Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy. The Na­tional In­sti­tute of Cir­cus Arts will be­gin au­di­tion­ing the new crop of tal­ent in WA be­fore tour­ing the coun­try on its an­nual re­cruit­ment drive. The de­gree is one of very few cir­cus-spe­cific cour­ses in the world. Cir­cus, es­pe­cially in the cabaret for­mat pre­ferred by Circa and Strut & Fret, is a growth in­dus­try in Aus­tralia, a fact borne out at ma­jor fes­ti­vals around the coun­try. Study ar­eas for the three-year course in­clude: group cir­cus acts; per­for­mance skills; cir­cus busi­ness; anatomy, nutri­tion and sports psy­chol­ogy; and cir­cus his­tory. I don’t re­call much of my arts de­gree, but I’m cer­tain it was never that much fun. If you’ve been any­where near a book­shop lately, you’d have no­ticed to­mor­row is Fa­ther’s Day. And amid the sales ta­bles heav­ing with lawn­care man­u­als, footy mem­oirs and cricket bi­ogra­phies, you’ll find a small, unas­sum­ing gem: Mud­dle Your Way Through Fa­ther­hood: How to Fool Peo­ple into Think­ing You’re a Com­pe­tent Dad. Fea­tur­ing chap­ters on “sim­ple ways to avoid be­ing as­saulted dur­ing child­birth” and “the great­est lies to tell your kids”, Paul Mer­rill’s lat­est book is one of the more hu­mor­ous things I’ve read in re­cent times. It’s un­likely Mer­rill, a for­mer lad’s mag ed­i­tor, has spent much time in the same sen­tences as Um­berto Eco, but the thrust of his book ties in to one of my favourite quotes about fa­ther­hood by the de­parted Ital­ian nov­el­ist. “I be­lieve what we be­come de­pends on what our fathers teach us at odd mo­ments, when they aren’t try­ing to teach us,” Eco wrote. “We are formed by lit­tle scraps of wis­dom.” Cel­e­brate your dads. And for an ex­tra dose of pa­ter­nal pathos, skip back to page 2 and read This Life. It is quite a story.

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