Oz Blog News Commentary

He Died With a Felafel in His Hand. The 30th Anniversary edition.

July 10, 2024 - 11:34 -- Admin

This time, thirty years ago, Michael Duffy gave me four grand to write a book. He was starting a publishing company and needed a stocking stuffer for Christmas. I had some flatmate stories, and I cranked that sucker out in less than five weeks. Having four thousand bucks to drop on hot chips, red wine and trucker speed helped.

The book, He Died With a Felafel in His Hand, failed. Spectacularly.

For weeks, then months, nobody would buy it because almost no bookshop would stock it. We tried some desperate shit to get the word out. At one point, Michael asked me to give him all of my unwashed socks and underwear.

I’m pretty sure he’d mortgaged his house on this publishing bet, so I figured he’d lost his mind from stress. But I had a lot of unwashed socks and undies lying around, so, sure, what the hell. I gave them up.

Michael placed copies of the book into a bunch of biohazard materials bags he’d scored from somewhere and sent them to literary editors around the country.

It didn’t help.

I’m not sure what did, in the end. We had one book distributor, this guy in Brisbane, who was obsessed with Felafel, and wouldn’t stop pestering his clients about it. He kept it going. And some unemployed theatre kids decided to adapt it for the stage and put on a show in a pub. In Erskineville, I think.

The book eventually took off. (And the play ran for years).

So, here we are. Shorter of breath and thirty years closer to death. Michael eventually got out of publishing. He’s a smart guy. I lost control of the rights to Felafel for a long time, and it disappeared from the shelves, if not from people’s memories.

I felt bad about that because that book meant something to a lot of people. It wasn’t anything I did. I just collected the stories and wrote them down. But I think people recognised themselves and their own lives in those stories over and over again.

And our stories do mean something to us, don’t they?

So, here are your stories again. I’ve added notes to the text and written a Foreword. Tweaked the design to better adapt it to digital. There’s a print version, and you’ll be my new best friend if you lay down a big wad of the folding stuff for that spendy motherfucker.

But in this economy? The ebook’s a better deal.

I’m setting it to half-price for my peeps. That’s you. You’re my peeps. I’ll gouge those other losers like a mofo soon enough.

Below is a universal link that’ll take you to a Books2Read page where you can choose your favourite bookstore. For once, all your bases aren't belong to Jeff Bezos. Indeed there’s some awkward legal reasons I can’t even sell the new version on Amazon in the UK or Canada. But there are alternatives there, too.

Get after it: He Died With a Felafel in His Hand.

A print version will be available next week. I’ll let you know about that, too.

And finally, a big thank you and a heads up to everyone who pledged paid subscriptions to ol’ Burger here. I didn’t want to turn them on until I was happy I could make this Substack thing work. But I’m getting the hang of it now, so my sincere thanks to everyone who signed up for that. I’ve got a freebie coming your way soon. A cheeky little Cruel Stars prequel - The Javan War.

Before anyone asks about the last book in that trilogy, The Forever Dead – it’s written. It's been sitting with my publishers in New York since last November. In case you were wondering why I decided to re-publish Felafel myself.

I’m kinda hoping The Javan War will tide y’all over.

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