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'The first time around these pieces were not widely heard or read. A roomful of festival-goers in Sydney or Penang or Ballarat could well have heard me hold forth on the subject of Enid Blyton, say, or kissing, it’s true, and a few of my newspaper articles – my feuilletons, as I’m calling them – may have caught the eye of some readers of the Byron Shire Echo some years ago. It’s not that these audiences were unappreciative, but they were limited. Nowadays a podcast can attract an audience of tens of thousands around the globe, while I performed for the most part in more intimate spaces – these were entertainments, so to speak, for un-known friends.'
No festival organiser, newspaper editor or publisher who has worked with Robert Dessaix is likely to have escaped a request for copies of his wonderful, fleeting talks and short works, or feuilletons.
These ephemeral pieces — including an overlooked short story ('not my usual genre, but [it] is also a performance, after all, a turn, a numéro, about love’) — are the work of a conjurer whose words dazzle, then seem to vanish almost as soon as they arrive. They are collected, and often annotated, for the very first time in Abracadabra.
From the wonder of learning foreign languages, to 'the words I wished I’d said’, Abracadabra is brimming with the thoughtful, witty and humorous observations for which Dessaix is known, and proves, once again, that his way with words is equally magical on the stage as it is on the page.
Part memoir and personal record, Abracadabra is a work many years in the making, an engrossing collection of observations and ideas which remind us why we read: for pleasure, after all.
Author: Robert Dessaix
Trade Paperback Published 14 April 2022 320 pages