Robert Dessaix, writer, essayist, translator and broadcaster, sat down with Ramona Koval to discuss writing and books on ABC radio, in what became one of the most charming, erudite discussions I have ever seen at a festival. They discussed the history of the ABC Books programs, and also the sense of intimacy that both the audience and the broadcaster experience with radio. At one point, Robert revealed that, while broadcasting, he often imagined he was talking to a close friend and everyone else was just listening in. When the conversation turned to reading, and Ms Koval asked Mr Dessaix whether he was interested in much Australian literature at the moment. He confessed he wasn’t, and also that he wasn’t reading much new writing at all. When Ms Koval asked him to explain, Mr Dessaix said: "When you get older, life becomes like a party you’ve been at for a long time. You’ve had lots of wonderful conversations; long, short, meaningful, shallow, funny. And when you look at your watch and realise it’s almost time to leave, you want to talk to your close friends before you go."

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