Monday, December 6, 2010

Feature: 'Travel Writing' for Frock Paper Scissors

Written for Frock Paper Scissors. I do love Bookcrossing! Read the original article here.

I left Jonathan Safran Foer at the Balmoral Cineplex, his orange spine camouflaged against the taxi service phone. The next morning he was gone, and I haven’t heard from him since. The pursuit of Doctor Who brought me to Albion train station in the early hours of the morning, and I almost lost hope when Stephen King wasn’t waiting at a sodden park bench. That was, until a friend unwittingly sat next to Thomas Hardy on the Caboolture line, and introduced him to me.

More than 6,000 Queenslanders are members of the worldwide network BookCrossing – an online haven for bibliophiles who know great literature is better shared. The site allows users to tag books with a unique ID, and release them “into the wild” for strangers to stumble across. Anyone who “catches” a book is encouraged to re-release it, spreading the fuzzy feelings even further. There are hundreds of releases playing hide-and-seek across Brisbane, each with a handy guide to their whereabouts. You can keep it a mystery, just be prepared to fight the discomfort of claiming lost property in public spaces. Being the beneficiary of a random act of kindness might make you look like a thief, but it’s well worth it. Some key hunting zones in Brisbane are Mick O’Malley’s Irish Pub on Queen Street Mall, The Myer Centre, bus stops, train stations and phone booths.
Bookcrossing is proof there’s often less than six degrees of separation.  A yellowed copy of Hardy’s The Return of the Native began its journey in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom, then crossed to Christchurch before ending up on my shelf. All dusty literature gets the travel bug, so why let a few novels have all the fun? That self-affirming expression “if you love someone set them free” finally has merit – your Kurt Vonneguts and Jane Austens could make somebody’s day, or change their life.
Keep your eyes peeled for a tagged copy of Frock Paper Scissors’ 2010 issue somewhere around town. Follow the clues, and keep tabs on its travels on our Facebook page. Who knows, our little magazine could make it halfway across the world.
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