Possibly a statement is overdue from me regarding the criticisms of Deadly Woman Blues that started cropping up a couple of weeks back. Not until now have I felt equipped to do that though, because I wanted to have some sort of palpable idea or a path to suggest towards making reparation for the misinformation the book has propagated, and apologising for the hurt that this has caused.
Now a course of action has been decided upon – the book will be withdrawn from sale and pulped, and NewSouth Publishing will post up corrections on its website.
This post here then is just the start of my own personal processes to amend any online profile of the book that I’m responsible for.
As public access as something like Spotify is, I’ve just removed the Deadly Woman Blues playlist I’d compiled there, and I have similarly deleted a similar playlist on YouTube. I’m working on amending other outlets like not least of all this website itself.
To say that I have myself felt distress over these past few weeks would be churlish in the face of that suffered by those women who have been misrepresented by the book. But I am in a state of distress and since I just don’t think I could string a coherent sentence together for any interviews at the minute, I have prepared this statement to go out to media outlets meantime:
“I have been devastated to learn that my failure to consult with many of the women in my book Deadly Woman Blues has caused such distress and anguish to them and to their friends and families. The book started life in graphic form and grew into one hundred images across one hundred years. The accompanying text about the women’s lives and work contains factual errors and I take responsibility for these. My publisher is working with these women to correct these mistakes on their website – these will be uploaded next week. I will be personally approaching some of these women, whose music has meant so much to me over decades, to apologise over the coming weeks. I should have followed protocols and consulted and checked and am now reflecting on my processes as a writer so at odds with my hitherto good reputation. Given all this, withdrawing the book from sale is the right decision. I apologise unreservedly to the women for any hurt I have caused.”
NewSouth’s CEO Kathy Bail released a statement the other day announcing the withdrawal of the book, which reads as follows:
“NewSouth published Clinton Walker’s Deadly Woman Blues: Black Women and Australian Music in February 2018 and a small number of books have sold since then. We have been made aware that not all the women who appear in the book were consulted about current biographical details and that some entries contain errors of fact. We are deeply sorry for any hurt or distress this has caused the women concerned and apologise to them unreservedly. We will be publishing a list of corrections on the NewSouth Publishing website when confirmed by those parties involved.”
The news is out there now in the media and on the net and so as much as I'd thought, in the interests of balance, I could provide links to the some of the criticism, that’s what all the news is anyway, and it’s not hard to find, so just do a search, there’s plenty of it there.
At some stage soon, as part of the process at hand, when I have come down a bit and calmed down and can reflect a little more clearly, I will post up a detailed account of myself and of the book.