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Episode 34 – Author’s Choice

Paul Dalgarno

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This episode I am joined by debut novelist, Melbourne writer, via Scotland, Paul Dalgarno.
Paul was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, and immigrated to Australia in 2010. In Scotland, he was a senior features writer, columnist and Deputy Weekend Features Editor with The Herald and Sunday Herald newspapers. In Melbourne, he was a launch editor, Deputy Editor, Arts Editor and Science Editor of The Conversation website. Paul has written for many publications including Guardian Australia, Australian Book Review, Sunday Times Scotland and The Big Issue. His memoir, And You May Find Yourself, was published in 2015. In 2016, he was awarded a Varuna Residential Fellowship to work on his second book.
When not writing, reading or parenting, Paul loves to cycle vast distances. Poly is his debut novel about Chris and Sarah Flood whose near sexless marriage has led them down the path to polyamory … but as tensions grow between family, friends and lovers Chris discovers he may not know someone close to them as well as he thought.
We talk about writing the book you want to read, how difficult it is to write sex scenes, mental health and some fantastic book pairings!
The pairings:
Horacio Oliveira is an Argentinian writer who lives in Paris with his mistress, La Maga, surrounded by a loose-knit circle of bohemian friends who call themselves “the Club.” A child’s death and La Maga’s disappearance put an end to his life of empty pleasures and intellectual acrobatics, and prompt Oliveira to return to Buenos Aires, where he works by turns as a salesman, a keeper of a circus cat which can truly count, and an attendant in an insane asylum.
Paul suggested the caffeine-rich, herbal drink from South America called Maté, drunk out of a gourd with friends.
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding unnecessary human contact, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen, the three rescue one another from the lives of isolation that they had been living. Ultimately, it is Raymond’s big heart that will help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one. If she does, she’ll learn that she, too, is capable of finding friendship—and even love—after all.
In honour of the scene where Eleanor winds up eating with Raymond and his mother, Paul suggests a Scotch broth would pair perfectly with this wonderful story – salty and warm and Scottish.
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. Nora Seed finds herself faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realising her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.
Justine recommends a warming cup of hot chocolate and – if you’re up late – a splash of rum to warm you through and through, just like this book will.



This episode of Literary Elixirs was recorded via Zoom, please forgive any minor technical glitches!   

Into/Outro music is Mosquito Mojito by Rachel K. Collier. Sourced from Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Licence.