There’s a quirky paradox to the concept of plastering literary quotes onto the side of garbage trucks.
But that’s exactly why Vince Gilligan, creator of the immensely popular US TV series Breaking Bad, digs it.
Gilligan is one of numerous leading contemporary writers whose prose will feature on Sydney’s garbage trucks, display boards and bus shelters in the coming month as part of Sydney Writers’ Festival.
The campaign, designed to give people “lyricism in the everyday”, features the work of Australian and international writers including David Malouf, Christos Tsiolkas, Richard Flanagan, Alexis Wright, Irvine Welsh and Amy Tan.
One truck sign at Wednesday’s Sydney Opera House launch read, “I am not in danger Skyler, I am the danger,” echoing the words of the show’s now-infamous Breaking Bad protagonist, chemistry teacher turned meth manufacturer Walter White.
Gilligan, one of the drawcards at the festival whose main program kicks off on May 17, said he was “tickled” to know one of the show’s quotes will get in with the next garbage run.
“I think it’s a wonderful paradox,” he told AAP.
“Literature is sometimes considered high-brow…rarefied or specialised and not therefore intended for popular consumption.
“And that’s a shame, because the greatest literature should, in a perfect world, be consumed by everybody.
“And to see literature on the side of something as quotidian as a garbage truck, that is a wonderful thing.”
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore was enthusiastic about the prospect of the quotes calming frustrated commuters as they waited for the bus.
“We think by putting them in unexpected places it will bring literature to people,” she said.
The trash-talking campaign also ran last year, but displayed verses by mainstream historic poets, including Shakespeare and Wordsworth.
Local garbos Catherine Kelly and Gary Morris were on hand to pose for photos, and said they felt this year’s choice of content was more digestible for the average person.
“The poetry last year was a bit in depth and that; we were being asked about what they meant,” said Morris.
“This year at least people can understand them, and can take it in properly.”
The 1800 seats for Gilligan’s event on tomorrow at Sydney’s Town Hall have sold out, breaking festival records and prompting organisers to create a second event straight afterwards, a one-to-one conversation between Gilligan and Sydney commentator Benjamin Law.
“I’ll need to eat my Wheaties because it’s going to be a long day,” he said.
Gilligan, who is busy working on a spin-off to the show called Better Call Saul, said he’s flattered to speak in Australia for the first time.
“Back in the early days I got really nervous doing these kinds of things because I’m not much of a public speaker.
“There’s two kinds of writers: the kind who love to hear themselves talk and the kind who are afraid of the sound of their own voice. I’m more the latter.
“But over the last three of four years I’ve gotten somewhat used to talking about Breaking Bad.”
Internationally celebrated novelist Alice Walker will also headline this year’s festival, which showcases more than 40 overseas and 300 Australian writers.