Megan McGrath is the author of the novella, Whale Station, and winner of the 2015 Queensland Literary Awards Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Award. Her acclaimed short work is published in literary journals and anthologies including Griffith REVIEW, Meanjin, Seizure, Tracks, Writing Queensland and Tincture Journal, among others. Follow Megan on Twitter @megansfictions or visit her website megansfictions.com.
This is the first in a three-part series of columns on literary jealousy. This part appeared in Issue Thirteen and the rest will appear in the journal throughout the year. Please support our work and buy a copy today.
I was in a foul mood when I went to buy Dave Burton’s How To Be Happy. The relentless heat had forced me away from my West End independents and into the air-con at Indooroopilly Shopping Town. In Dymocks, the book wasn’t shelved in YA or Australian Biographies, so I asked the elderly shop-clerk where it might be. I followed her to the Children’s Non-Fiction section where a few copies were squeezed between the DK history books and a make-your-own-skeleton kit. “Weird place to shelve it,” I said. She looked at me like I’d never read a book in my life. And worse, like I really needed this one.
At the counter she looked me in the eye and said, “You take care, OK?” Take care? I was reading the book because it won the Text Prize and Burton was a local artist doing great things for our community. Take care? I didn’t need to know how to be happy—I was happy. Three months ago I got engaged in Paris. Two months ago I won the inaugural Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Award (QPYPWA). Last month I hiked the Grand Canyon.
OK. Maybe, to steal the first line of How To Be Happy, I’ve lied to you already. Maybe I wasn’t reading his book just because he was a talented local artist. Maybe I was jealous.