The Graeme Simson collection highlights the imagination

Is there a reader out there who didn’t find Don Tillman endearing? The Don Tillman I mean is Graeme Simsion’s character from his first novel, The Pink Project. That screwball comedy was a roaring success, and Simsion went on to write a second, then a third Don and Rosie story.

The first of Rosie series made Simsion famous. Don and Rosie are such seductive characters that every reader would want to follow their lives. There was no mistaking the exhilaration of reading that first novel. The jokes were visual and hilarious, and in some mysterious way the author’s wit lit up every page.

Graeme Simsion is unfailingly funny.

Graeme Simsion is unfailingly funny.Credit:Scott McNaughton

And every reader wondered if the endearing and irritating Don was perhaps autobiographical. This new book might help with questions. Creative differences and other stories is an unusual collection of nine songs written about Simsion’s industrious career. Some are fiction, some written for newspapers, some commissioned, some as prizes.

And just over half of the book is a novella, Creative differences. It deals with two opposite ways of writing a novel: detailed plot or flying from the seat of the pants. Scott has the steel trap mind that solves problems and jokes, Emily has access to the Muses. They’ve been together happily for three years, creatively and in life, but trouble comes with the arrival of Piper, who wants to use them both to release his genius from the cage. Then there’s Gideon, a bankrupt publisher. A short man with a big brain.

Creative Differences and Other Stories by Graeme Simsion.

Creative Differences and Other Stories by Graeme Simsion.

Creative differences was commissioned by Audible Australia and this required some research for Simsion. Of course spoken vocals would have been appropriate, but he had to look for inspiration.

It was from the Beatles White album which has become the benchmark for Simsion: 30 tracks, four voices, and the creative differences that notoriously tear bands apart, he writes in his introduction. I’m afraid all this has escaped me.

An idle thought crossed my mind: Is Simsion’s intelligence excessive? Followed by another equally idle one: when does the smart one point in the ass? Simsion’s qualities worked into the tender, emotionally subtle handling Rosie novels, resulting in hilarious fun, but I mean “hmm?” here. For my money, this would work better as an audible.

The nine pieces that make up the first half of the book are engaging. Confession in three parts, a story within the story of two generations of female doctors, is a direct descendant of O. Henry, shocking and satisfying. Other, Three meetings with the physicistwas the runner-up The age Short story contest 2013. A man goes on his first marathon. He is 51 years old. He is obsessive, even when his body tells him to stop or he will die. He won’t.

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