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TGBC and Furphy Anthology 2020

Furphy Anthology 2020 Book Launch – March 2021

The Furphy Analogy 2020. Selected short stories from the Furphy Literary award. Existing and emerging writers, drawing on Australian experiences, events and tones.

Tough Guy Book Club (TGBC) can take you places.

Not just in the metaphoric sense - in March 2021 it took us to a pub in Melbourne (not unusual) - in the back streets of what was once working class Richmond (again, not unusual). But there, as we refreshed ourselves in the usual manner, TGBC was welcomed as part of the local literary landscape; supporters of Australian literature and active participants in the business of supporting writing and reading.

We were at a book launch. As TGBC. In a front bar. A book launch featuring 16 Australian writers, supported by a metalworks company and a brewery.

Joseph Furphy wrote a literary Australian classic ‘Such is Life’ in 1903 using the pen name ’Tom Collins’, which at that time, was common slang for ‘tall story’. Joseph’s brother, John, was a blacksmith. His mostly agricultural equipment output included water carts, used by the AIF during WW1. Around these carts, soldiers gossiped, griped and generally bulshitted their way through the war. Almost inevitably then, the term ‘furphy’ came about and set it’s arse down amongst our language..

The Furphy Literary Award was founded in 1992 and became a national competition in 2020. In 2020, more than 800 writers, published or otherwise, took up the challenge to tackle the topic of ‘Australian Life’.
The Furphy Anthology 2020 (Hardie Grant Publishing) features 16 short stories judged best in that year’s competition.

The launch took place at the London Tavern in Richmond on a Tuesday night. With a couple of dozen of us there - easily identified as the exuberant men with enthusiastic appetites for the pints of beer on offer - TGBC bulkified the crowd gathered and proved good, vocal audience members as proceedings kicked off, MC’d by TGBC’s own Shay Leighton.

To get things going, there was some audience warm up activity: find someone you don’t know and tell them a story. Striding into the crowd, we found ourselves talking to writers, aspiring writers, book publishers and promoters - as well as a couple of metalworkers named Furphy.

As the official launch got underway we heard from some of the writers, the publisher and the Anthology and awards benefactor. Across the night and as the beer flowed and the conversation grew louder, I was fortunate enough to talk to a publisher, and several writers, including 3 published in the anthology - some just starting out - a mixture of passion and shyness and others more seasoned - possessed of a certainty on how to tell their story of their piece of Australian life. All of them approachable, personable and with that passion to create.

A highlight for me, I also got to meet a long time writer who, in addition to his books, has a regular column in one of the weekend newspapers (Mr. Anson Cameron - look him up). I had long been a fan of his writing and his topics and always seek out his column on a Saturday morning. I’m pleased to report that he’s a beauty of a bloke; we spoke about other authors, newspapers and publishing, the way his writing had changed over time and how he uses little bits of everyday Australian life as his hook to hang a story on. He also digs what we do.

Nicely lubricated for a Tuesday night, with a newly launched book under our arms, we headed off home down darkened streets and windswept train stations - a little bit more informed, familiar and engaged with those that create what we read. Some of us no doubt, also feeling like we too, could tell a furphy and get it done on paper one day…

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