|My dad, Baruch Bursztynski|
Today is the second anniversary of my father’s passing. It is too painful to think about that day, so let me tell you about Dad as he was.
Dad was my biggest fan. He thought Shakespeare was over-rated – why read his stuff when you could be reading Monsters and Creatures of The Night by Sue Bursztynski? And when Potions To Pulsars, my women scientists book came out, he had a go at the local bookshop owner for putting books about Hitler in the window when he could have been putting in this wonderful book with all this useful information in it.
Which didn’t stop him from making sure the shop got sales. He hung out with a group he called “the geriatrics” all of whom had grandchildren. Nothing would do but that every one of them must buy a copy for their grandchildren. When anyone protested that his grandchild was only a year old, Dad would say, “So? Is it going to go off?” He would argue that all the information crammed into this little book was the equivalent of a library of books about women in science. And then he’d send them off to buy it at the shop. What the shopkeepers made of this parade of elderly men asking for my book, I don’t know, but I would have liked to be a fly on the wall… J
Dad read all of my books, except the last one, which came out after he was gone. If you have a copy of Wolfborn, you’ll find a dedication to him in it. (And if you don’t have it, what are you waiting for? Go get it! Dad would have said)
He came to two launches with me. One of them was the launch of Ford Street’s Trust Me! in which I had a story. It was at the State Library and what a day it was! Food, booze and fifty writers and artists signing! Dad had a fabulous time; he drank champagne and ate the foods on offer and took photos. And he said hi to Mitch Vane, the wonderful artist who had illoed my spies book, Your Cat Could Be A Spy. They’d met before, you see; he was at the local photocopy shop, doing a copy of the cover of Cat. He asked the nice lady next to him in the queue for help and she said, “Oh, I illustrated this!” It was Mitch.
The other launch was the one I arranged with Sisters In Crime, for my Ford Street book Crime Time: Australians behaving badly. While we sat at dinner, Dad told me he’d been to the Cuckoo restaurant, robbed a couple of years before, and they’d told him that they were now keeping a bag of rolls at the counter in case any more idiots did a repeat of the April Fools’ Day robbery attempt. It made a great story to tell when I got up to launch my book. Dad had a great time there too, and had a long chat with Kerry Greenwood.
Dad was a fan of all his children and grandchildren’s creative efforts – there’s a framed article about my nephew Mark, a musician, above the computer Dad learned to use very quickly when, in his seventies and eighties, he became a “silver surfer”. (And believe me, he very quickly picked up the art of Googling, looking for any references to me!) Even when he was dying in hospital, he lent a copy of Mark’s CD to a doctor. He went to every one of my nephew Max’s school concerts to hear him play.
Here’s a toast to you, Dad, which I will drink later today, perhaps with my family. I may never have had an agent, except very briefly, but you were my fan club, my promoter, the terror of bookshop owners everywhere. I will never forget you.