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I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Not since the BBC's John Simpson took me through 'A Mad World', 'Strange Places, Questionable People', made a clean sweep of his mortal failings by telling all about the time he was slapped by former UN Chief Kurt Waldheim, have I read anything as memorable as Eric Campbell's 'Absurdistan'.

Come to think of it, how often have TV stars shown us their real failing sides? How often do you get insights into what makes it to TV and what doesn't? And how often have you seen a successful correspondent tell you how he wrecked his seemingly perfectly timed piece to camera or got his professional life together while his personal life was simply falling apart?

Eric Campbell does all of that and a whole lot more. The errors of his life are as diverse as his television stories. Some of these have taken him to China, Russia, Afghanistan and beyond. In fact, all you have to do is name an obscure place and chances are Campbell has been there and reported on that.

Quite like Simpson's work, it is the forthrightness and brutal honesty of Campbell's writing that helped me connect instantly with his work.

The stories he tells, span a wide range - comic, tragic, horrific, reflective, lyrical and at times even spooky. The one that stays forever though is the one about his friend and cameraman Paul Moran's tragic death while on assignment in Iraq in 2003.

Some of these moments are what I hope to re-live in what will definitely be a literary lunch to remember. Together with the immensely popular Christopher Kremmer, we will hopefully be able to present life beyond the war zone.

This will be happening at Alila Ubud on Monday, the 2nd of October. Lots more exciting stuff happening at Ubud, so if you are still looking for excused to get your bags packed, take a look here:

Before I sign off for today, here's more about the author of 'Absurdistan'.

Eric Campbell began his life as a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald. A series of ill-advised career changes saw him languish in the backwaters of television, covering travel stories for a few years. But he never gave up and eventually landed a job as the ABC's Moscow correspondent in 1996.

Till 1999, he covered the tumultuous changes in the former Soviet Union. His assignments included reporting the wars in Chechnya, Afghanistan and the Balkans, tracking polar bears in the Arctic, filming at secret military bases in Central Russia and travelling by sled with nomadic reindeer herders in Siberia.

In 1999 he was awarded a New York Television Festival Award for environmental reporting and was a finalist in the Australian Walkley Awards for his coverage of the war and humanitarian crisis in Kosovo. His stories on the al-Qaeda in Afghanistan won a Logie for best news coverage.

In 2000 he returned to Sydney to be a reporter/producer for ABC TV's award-winning Foreign Correspondent programme.