On the Couch with Laura Kroetsch

Laura Kroetsch AAR On the CouchWho is Laura Kroetsch?
I usually rattle off that I’m a curator of literary events. But really, I am a compulsive reader and hopeless book nerd. For as long as I can remember I have read between three and five books a week. Most genres, in various formats. Because I am also addicted to the object, I live in a small house that groans under  the weight of what some might describe as too many books.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I love literary / ideas festivals and can’t think of another job that encourages reading and live conversations. So for as long as I can, this is my lot.

Who inspires you and why?
Reading is what I do and what inspires me is great writing. I love a well crafted sentence, I love writing that is insanely clever and that which takes me out of myself. I love writing that forces me to think harder, that allows me to understand the world in different and often better ways. I also love the familiarity of the written word and its capacity to soothe my worried self, to excite my bored self and to educate my still curious self.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I sometimes worry that the arts don’t do enough about all the terrible plagues of the 21st century – climate change, the rise of the far right, plastic in the oceans, poverty, and on and on. My efforts mostly involve encouraging people to think about the world – with an open mind and as little sentimentality as possible. There are a couple of lines by W H Auden which I think are useful in this regard – “Thou shalt not live within thy means, Nor on plain water and raw greens. If thou must choose Between the chances, choose the odd; Read The New Yorker, trust in God; And take short views.”

Favourite holiday destination and why?
A beach house with a well equipped kitchen and shady spots in which to lounge around, ideally with good walking treks near by. I love cities for work and exploring but for a holiday I like to cook and read and drink and talk.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
If they are from overseas I take them to see a friend of mine who rescues kangaroos – kangaroos are such amazing creatures and so wonderful to be around.

What are you currently reading?
I’ve just finished Intan Paramaditha’s Apple and Knife – it’s terrific, soaked in blood and mad ideas about women. I’m now reading Lenore New’s Lost Feast, I’m a great fan of culinary history, and am about to read Claire G Coleman’s The Old Lie. The book I’m encouraging book lovers to read is insanely wonderful – The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine, it’s about twin sisters who fall out over a dictionary.

What are you currently listening to?
I listen to ABC National, my local ABC and podcasts – This American Life, Majority Report and Garden & Guns Whole Hog – not ever an easy one to explain. I’m hopeless when it comes to music – unless it is live and I have no choice but to listen.

Happiness is?
My dogs, my garden, cake and what else – reading. I’m not holding out hope for world peace.

What does the future hold for you?
Don’t know really. Hardly seems responsible at my age, but that’s the gigging economy. I can only hope it is not  dull!

Laura is a Consultant to the 2019 Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) in Adelaide: 1 – 3 November. For more information, visit: www.jlflitfest.org Laura is also the Curator of Dark Mofo’s Dark and Dangerous Thoughts program. For more information, visit: www.darkmofo.net.au for details.

Image: Laura Kroetsch (supplied)