Posted by: Lisa Hill | April 8, 2018

Book launch: Relatively Famous, by Roger Averill, at Readings in Hawthorn

Yesterday afternoon I was in the mood for some bookshop browsing, so it seemed like the stars were aligned when the Readings Monthly catalogue advertised a book that I wanted and a book launch that didn’t require me to book in advance. Crucially, it was at their Hawthorn store which is a breeze to get to, with none of the crowds and parking hassles of the Carlton store.  (It is not strictly speaking relevant to these justifications that I’ve already spent about $100 on books from Readings this month.  There was one book more that I needed).

So I bought the book (Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia edited by Anita Heiss), to put aside for Indigenous Literature Week in July.  I had to buy it now because Readings is donating $2 of every copy sold to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, but only till May 31st.  That done, I had a super crisp and crunchy baguette at the Laurent Boulangerie Patisserie next door, and then went back to Readings for the launch of Relatively Famous by Roger Averill.  (Averill also wrote the award-winning Exile, the Lives and Hopes of Werner Pelz which I reviewed here). I enjoyed a quick bit of gossip with Barry Scott from Transit Lounge, and then settled down to wait with a book (Little Gods, by Jenny Ackland.) 

After a brief intro by Barry, (who is a national treasure IMO because he is so good at publishing books that I like) Relatively Famous was launched byAverill’s friend and former colleague Tony Thompson. He had a droll take on the university where they had both worked, explaining that Averill has returned to fiction because the university had (to put it kindly) a fictional view of itself.  He also said that the Averill is no cynic, and he had in this book, achieved the difficult art of writing about fame and celebrity without either trashing or idealising it.

The book asks the question: how would you feel if your own life was always a footnote in the life of a famous father?  This is the blurb for the book:

Michael and Marjorie Madigan refuse to be interviewed by biographer Sinclair Hughes for his new book Inside the Lion’s Den: The Literary Life of Gilbert Madigan. This is not surprising as Gilbert is Marjorie’s ex-husband and Michael’s mostly absent father. He is also Australia’s first Booker Prize winner, a feted and much lauded author that the U.K. and U.S. now like to call their own. Michael cannot escape his father’s life and work, and at times his own life seems swallowed by it. His father’s success is a source of undeniable pleasure but also of great turmoil. In a world that increasingly covets fame and celebrity, Relatively Famous subtly explores notions of success, masculinity, betrayal and loss, and ultimately what it might mean to live a good life.

Tony Thompson said he hopes the book will be taken seriously because it raises issues that need to be discussed.   Roger Averill, who is not a fan of social media, asked us to imagine parents not having time for their children because they’re always too busy updating their online profiles.  It bothers me a lot, too, that I see so many parents fussing with their phones instead of talking with their children.  At cafés, in parks, on public transport, just everywhere.  At least, Averill said, his character’s absorption in fame derives from being a good writer…

Which reminds me, dear readers.  I have abandoned Facebook. I am sick of dealing with messages from my friends that turn out to be hacks, I am sick of them manipulating my newsfeed, and I don’t like Facebook’s ethics.  I haven’t removed my page there yet but I’m no longer posting there and I’ll be shutting it down completely soon.  So if you don’t want to miss out on notifications of new content here, please subscribe either by RSS or email, or follow me on Twitter @ANZLitLovers. If you want to contact me, use the contact form on the About page…

Author: Roger Averill
Title: Relatively Famous
Publisher: Transit Lounge, 2018
ISBN: 9780995409897
Review copy on the TBR courtesy of Transit Lounge

Available from Fishpond: Relatively Famous or direct from Transit Lounge.



  1. Well thankyou for all the times you’ve reposted Facebook notifications of my book reviews. My numbers keep going up and it can’t all be due to me interviewing MST. I don’t have any of the problems you mention with Facebook except of course that they’re thieving bastards when it comes to reusing our data.


    • Well, there’s an easy way to keep the stats coming: I can reblog your reviews the way I reblog Tony’s poetry reviews, if you like. That would be good because you read stuff I don’t necessarily read (especially speculative fiction):)


  2. I’m intrigued by the notion of this book (and find the cover particularly attractive). I haven’t had a chance to fondle it in a shop as yet, but look forward to doing so. I bought a book of short stories recently called Almost Famous Women- sisters/daughters of famous men I think, naturally I haven’t read it yet…. I’m sad to see you leaving FB, but I do understand your reasons. I can only really handle one social media platform at a time and have been using twitter more for the past six months, although it’s quite different. I go days without checking on FB now!


    • I think I’m going to have a bit more time now that I’m not feeling obliged to check my FB page!
      Twitter, used strategically, is more efficient. With rare exceptions I use it solely to announce a new post, and I only follow people who are relevant to my interest in reading books, and only if they keep themselves nice. (No swearing, no trolling, of course!)


  3. Lovely post! Indigenous Literature Week sounds interesting. Where might I look for further info? Is this something which the book blogging community normally becomes involved? Many thanks in advance.


    • Hello Paula, thank you for your comment:) I host ILW every year on this blog in July, to coincide with NAIDOC Week. If you scroll down to the bottom on the RH menu and click on one of the logos you will find all of the ILW posts for that year, including the introductory one that explains all about it. And if you click on the ANZLL Indigenous Lit Reading List in the top menu you will find the fruits of all the ILWs I’ve hosted: reviews of books by Indigenous authors gathered together from other bloggers who take part. It would be lovely if you were to join us this year, I’ll be posting the sign-up page during June…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds like a good day out!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] week I had the pleasure of attending a book launch for Roger Averill’s new novel Relatively Famous (which is now waiting its turn on the TBR) and I took the opportunity to ask if Roger was willing […]


  6. […] is much else in this book: as foreshadowed by Tony Thompson at the book’s launch, as well as the exploration of celebrity, masculinity, fatherhood and the grief of divorce, there […]


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