if:book has been running a project this year where we’ve asked a number of writers to create literary remixes—new work built from source material drawn from the Australian public domain.
We’ve asked the writers to choose a nineteenth century author’s work and reinterpret, update, or reimagine it for a twenty-first century audience. Appropriately, we called the project Rumours of My Death.
Our three living authors have been using a variety of media and platforms to create and publish the resulting remixes.
Digital poet and artist, Mez Breeze has collaborated with Anna Maria Bunn on a series of web-based book chapters titled A [[Non]] Guardian Age.
Simon Groth begun a collaboration with Marcus Clarke on a short anthology of short stories coming soon.
And an author who initially wished to remain anonymous collaborated with Henry Savery, a convict, raconteur and ne’er-do-well about town who has the honour of being Australia’s first novelist. For the uninitiated, you can catch up on highlights from Henry’s residency here.
We can now reveal that the author in question is writer, fellow raconteur, and social media legend: Christopher Currie.
Chris stepped out from behind Henry's silhouette and claimed his top hat at October's Whispers event for Queensland Writers Centre. What better way to cap off the project than a reading from Savery's magnum opus at Queensland's premier literary salon event?
Savery’s novel is titled Quintus Servinton. You likely haven’t heard of it and there’s a good reason for that.
It’s not very good.
Ostensibly, Quintus Servinton is a wafer thin fictionalisation of Savery’s own life, filled with self-serving justifications for the plainly poor choices the man made. But what should arguably be the novel’s most interesting sequences—his sentence to transportation and arrival in Van Diemen’s Land—doesn’t occur until Book 3. You have to first wade through the gypsy curse placed on him in utero and a painstaking tour through his dull childhood.
But, despite its many flaws, Quintus Servinton is first and that does count for something.
So Chris bravely stepped up to the microphone and allowed the intercourse to follow. We were able to capture film footage from the event, but sadly it is incomplete and the film has deteriorated rapidly in the time since, however the following is what could be recovered.