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Vol. 24 No. 3 April 2017
new this month: Fear of Abandonment: Australia in the World Since 1942 by Allan Gyngell
Allan will be at Gleebooks in April, as will Nikki Gemmell, Bernadette Brennan, Susi Prescott, Ailsa Piper, Tony Doherty, Catherine McKinnon and more â€” check out our events calendar! 1
stival e Writers Fe
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Adelaide Writers’ Week was hot, hot, hot as usual, but the beautiful setting is always a pleasure and for the past several years (I believe) they have adopted a botanical theme with give-away seed packets, and screens behind the authors made of hundreds of seedling pots. This year’s AWW was dedicated to Elizabeth Harrower and opened with a wonderful interview with her. She had come by car from Sydney with her agent Jane Novak and reminisced about driving down for the inaugural AWW in 1960 with the writer Olaf Ruhen. This took me back as Olaf was a great friend of my parents and that year he and several other authors slept on our living-room floor. I remember as a young girl listening to the jolly conversations going late into the night.
This was a very literary festival with not as many of the non-fiction and political/current affairs events we usually see at the Sydney talkfest. The most political was Thomas Frank talking about his book Listen, Liberal in which he castigates the left (and he identifies as such) for not addressing the growing problem of income inequality, which has led to the election of Trump and the rise of the right. A few sobering figures: it costs $US65,000 per annum to attend college. In the 1980s male CEOs made 40% more than the average wage-earner and in 2017 they make 370% more. Why has the right revolted against this situation and not the left? It was a huge pleasure to meet Kim Mahood, author of Position Doubtful, a memoir about the time she’s spent in Northern Territory communities. Mahood has wonderful stories to tell and she may well be doing it for you as she is visiting Sydney in late April. Kim stays with friends (and customers of ours) in Dulwich Hill when she’s in Sydney and has kindly offered to pay us a visit. The date isn’t set yet so keep an eye out for posters and gee, I may even get it onto our Facebook page.
Rather amusingly the biggest audience of the week was for Guilia Enders and her book Gut, indicative perhaps of the average age of the attendees. Later that day a huge crowd also gathered for the mightily articulate Richard Fidler who made us all want to read his bestseller Ghost Empire.
And that’s the beauty of a writers’ festival—you come home with a long list of books to add to the must-read pile. Here’s mine: Nathan Hill’s widely praised novel of contemporary America, The Nix; the ebullient Paula Byrne’s biography of JFK’s sister Kick Kennedy; Cuban journalist, Armando Lucas Correa’s debut novel The German Girl; Alberto (sexy brainiac) Manguel’s Curiosity which made me also want to read Dante—in Italian of course; Adam Fitzgerald’s poetry collection George Washington and Sebastian Barry’s civil war novel, Days Without End (praised by no less than Dulwich staffer, Tim Gaunt); and poet Adam Aitken’s memoir and portrait of his parents’ marriage, One Hundred Letters Home. A huge highlight of the week was the young feminist Lindy West talking with Emily Maguire about her book Shrill. West has been trolled so much on Twitter she has recently ceased all social media, saying she doesn’t want to share that space with the likes of Donald Trump and his followers. This doesn’t make me feel so bad about the fact I should have been posting on the gleebooks Dulwich Hill Facebook page. On the last day I intended to take some photos—but left my mobile at home. See you on D’Hill, Morgan
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
On 4 August 1892 Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts. During the inquest into the deaths, Lizzie Borden was arrested and charged with the murder of her father and her stepmother. Through the eyes of Lizzie’s sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, the enigmatic stranger Benjamin and the beguiling Lizzie herself, we return to what happened that day in Fall River. Lizzie Borden took an axe. Or did she? ($33, PB)
Storyland by Catherine McKinnon ($28, PB)
Storyland is Catherine McKinnon’s second novel, and a gloriously ambitious and rewarding work of historical fiction. Set on the shores of Lake Illawarra, south of modern-day Wollongong, the action moves from an imagined episode of exploration by a young man aboard Bass and Flinders’ boat in 1796, through a narrative connecting five people across the centuries until a chilling tale of climate catastrophe set in the middle of the 21st Century sends us back through the story chain to where we began (and if that narrative pattern sounds familiar to fans of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, it should, as McKinnon is surely a very capable admirer of that novel’s daring structure). And this is a quintessentially Australian novel: in a sense the history of post-colonial Australia is boldly, arrestingly embodied in the entwined story lines of Storyland. David Gaunt
Best Laid Plans by Kathy Lette ($33, PB)
As a crossword-addicted English teacher, Lucy never expected to be arrested for kerb-crawling. But her autistic twenty-yearold son Merlin is desperate to lose his virginity, and a prostitute seems like the only option—only Lucy picks up an undercover policewoman instead. Let off with a suspended sentence, Lucy resigns herself to the fact that her son will never have sex, let alone find love. Until the morning she miraculously discovers Merlin in bed with a girl. But is tough, tattooed Kayleigh just taking Merlin for a ride? If so, why? And what has brought Lucy’s snake of an ex-husband wriggling back into their lives?
The Scent of You by Maggie Alderson ($33, PB) Perfume blogger Polly is in crisis. Will her husband’s absence break her—or make her? Are you still married if you haven’t seen your husband for months? Polly’s life is great. Her children are away at uni, her glamorous mother—still modelling at 85— is happily settled in a retirement village, and Polly’s perfume blog is taking off. Then her husband announces he needs some space & promptly vanishes. Bewildered, Polly clings to a few new friends to keep her going—Shirlee, the loudmouthed yoga student; Guy, the mysterious, infuriating & hugely talented perfumer; and Edward, an old flame from university. And while she distracts herself with the heady world of luxury perfume, Polly knows she can’t keep reality at bay forever. A Hundred Small Lessons by Ashley Hay
When Elsie Gormley falls & is forced to leave her Brisbane home of 62 years, Lucy Kiss & her family move in—new house, new city, new baby. Lucy and her husband Ben are struggling to transform from adventurous lovers to new parents—trying to discover their future selves. In her nearby nursing home, Elsie revisits the span of her life—the moments she can’t bear to let go; the haunts to which she might yet return. Her memories are intertwined with her old house, whose rooms seem to breathe Elsie’s secrets into Lucy. Through one hot, wet Brisbane summer, seven lives—and two different slices of time—wind along with the flow of the river, as two families chart the ways in which we come, sudden and oblivious, into each other’s stories, and the unexpected ripples that flow out from those chance encounters. ($33, PB)
Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by Jackie French
Each year at secluded Shillings Hall the mysterious Miss Lily educates young women selected from Europe’s royal & most influential families. Her girls are taught how to captivate a man— and find a potential husband—at a dinner, in a salon, or at a grouse shoot. In 1914, persuading and charming men is the only true power a woman has. Sophie Higgs is the daughter of Australia’s king of corned beef and the only ‘colonial’ brought to Shillings Hall—she is also the only one who suspects Miss Lily’s true purpose. As the chaos of WW1 spreads, women across Europe shrug off etiquette. The lovely ladies & their less privileged sisters become the unacknowledged backbone of the war, creating hospitals, canteens & transport systems where bungling officials fail to cope. And when tens of thousands can die in a single day’s battle, Sophie must use the skills Miss Lily taught her to prevent war’s most devastating weapon yet. ($30, PB)
Congo Dawn by Katherine Scholes ($33, PB)
Melbourne secretary Anna Emerson’s life is turned upside down when a stranger hands her a plane ticket to the Congo. The newly independent country is in turmoil, Simba rebels are on the move—but the invitation holds a precious clue to the whereabouts of her estranged father. Dan Miller signs up as a mercenary commando to fight the Communist uprising. He supports the cause, but that’s not really why he’s there. A devastating tragedy has taken all meaning from his life, and he’s got nothing left to lose. In the Congo, Dan’s belief in the war begins to crumble. Anna heads deeper into danger as she travels from a grand colonial mansion to an abandoned hotel on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, to a leprosy mission in the jungle and beyond. Their two paths collide through circumstances more extraordinary than fate.
This is a novel told in 34 cantos, somewhat in the manner of Pushkin’s great Russian novel in verse, Eugene Onegin. Brian Castro’s hero Lucien Gracq is a town planner from Adelaide who is writing a book-length poem, Paidia. Doubtful of its reception, he travels to Paris to join a literary club which guarantees its members anonymity, by having their books published under someone else’s name, while the authors themselves are encouraged to commit suicide if they are not already, as in Gracq’s case, facing death from a terminal illness. Castro’s novel is a part-serious, part-comic fantasy on the present fate of literary authors, who might as well be anonymous, or dead, for all the recognition that they are likely to receive for their writing.
Rubik by Elizabeth Tan ($30, PB) Elena Rubik can’t seem to stay dead. She persists: as a set of corneas, as a newsletter subscriber, as a member of fanfiction forums. Her best friend Jules Valentine meanwhile is unwittingly inveigled into an indie-film turned corporate branding stunt. When Jules leaks information about the true story behind the video—by then an overworked viral meme—wannabe investigative reporter April Kuan is assigned the case. But as April trails Jules all over Perth she too becomes ensnared in the machinations of shady corporate interests as the very laws of physics and time begin to bend. Rubik is a wide-ranging, intertwined novel in stories that slip outside the borders of realism. Spotted with disappearances, mysteries and told with cutting social commentary, it is an original reflection of technological anxiety, loneliness & connectivity in the internet age. Selling The Dream by Hugh Mackay ($30, PB)
Lincoln The Hunter is living the dream. Universally admired and terrifically charming, he has a formidable reputation in the world of marketing & advertising, and is the jewel in the crown of agency KK&C. When Linc grabs the high-budget, high-profile campaign for The Ripper, a ground-breaking new snack that noone with functioning tastebuds would voluntarily eat, it doesn’t occur to him that he might be the pawn in this great game of advertising, where no method—be it a calculated office affair or ‘disruptive skydiving’—is off limits to aid in selling the dream. In this laugh-out-loud funny& frighteningly believable satire, Hugh Mackay lays bare the machinations of this multi-million-dollar industry, and leaves you wondering just where the line between parody and reality falls.
Autumn is here which is always a beautiful season in the mountains. We’ve also enjoyed hosting two great book events up here so far this year: Marilla North with Yarn Spinners in February, and in March we had playwright and novelist Catherine McKinnon with her new book Storyland. I have just finished reading it and if you liked Kate Grenville’s The Secret River, then I think you will like Storyland. It is an ambitious novel about who we are and our connection to the land. Set on Lake Illawarra, Storyland is a narrative of our history, our present and our future. McKinnon cleverly interweaves Australian history, starting with Matthew Flinder’s exploration of the area through to a climatic change in the future. She takes you from 1796 to 1998 to 2717 and back again with characters that you get to know intimately. I will say that I wasn’t sure where the book was taking me at the beginning, but persist as it gets very interesting and absorbing. For the kids, Blackheath staffer, Ben, is recommending TWIG by Sydney author Aura Parker: Parker has created something magical here. Heidi is a stick insect, and it is her first day of bug school. She is so good at camouflaging herself that no one sees her at first. This is a lovely gentle picture book about starting school. It is full of things to find and count. It is great fun! Highly recommended for preschool and kinder children. ($25, HB) We have two terrific events happening this month. Ailsa Piper and Tony Doherty with their new book The Attachment on Thursday 20 April and Nikki Gemmell with her new memoir After on Sunday 23 April. See below for details. Victoria Jefferys
APRIL 2017 EVENTS IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS THE ATTAcHMENT
The Starlings by Vivienne Kelly ($30, PB)
It’s March 1985 and Nicky Starling is turning eight, but it’s a sad day. Nicky’s grandmother Didie has just died. Almost worse —his father’s beloved football team has lost the first match of the season. Nicky will miss Didie but he still has Rose, Didie’s nurse. He wishes he could love footy, but what he really loves are the tales of King Arthur and stories from Shakespeare that his mother reads to him and that he acts out in his bedroom. But these stories don’t have happy endings, an alarming fact for a boy whose family life is starting to fracture.
Billy Sing by Ouyang Yu ($27.95, PB)
William ‘Billy’ Sing was born in 1886 to an English mother and Chinese father. He and his two sisters were brought up in Clermont and Proserpine, in rural Queensland. He was one of the first to enlist in 1914 and at Gallipoli became famous for his shooting prowess. Australian son of both ‘Mother England’ and ‘Father Cathay’, Billy Sing is a Gallipoli hero and a modern killer, beloved & abandoned, admirable & deluded, lost & found ... Ouyang Yu brings a figure from remote history fully alive with intensity & tragic depth, lets us hear his voice & feel his pain. Ouyang restores Billy Sing to an Australian history that has threatened to erase him, but leaves us fundamentally unsettled about just what that history has been and might be. This book is terrific, it moved me to tears.’—Nicholas Birns, author of Contemporary Australian Literature: A World Not Yet Dead
Lotus Blue by Cat Sparks ($23, PB)
17 year-old Star & her sister Nene are orphans, part of a 13 wagon caravan of nomadic traders living hard lives travelling the Sand Road. Their route cuts through a particularly dangerous & unforgiving section of the Dead Red Heart, a war-ravaged desert landscape plagued by rogue semi-sentient machinery & other monsters from a bygone age. But when the caravan witnesses a relic-Angel satellite unexpectedly crash to Earth, a chain of events begins that sends Star on a journey far away from the life she once knew. Shanghaied upon the sandship Dogwatch, she is forced to cross the Obsidian Sea by Quarrel, an ancient Templar supersoldier. Meanwhile, something old and powerful has woken in the desert. A Lotus Blue, deadliest of all the ancient war machines.
Now in B Format The Chocolate Tin by Fiona McIntosh, $23
Blindness and Rage: A Phantasmagoria by Brian Castro ($26.95, PB)
Boo ks w ith
Letters from a most unlikely friendship What began with an admiring email from a reader to a writer went on to become a vital relationship for both writer Ailsa Piper and priest Tony Doherty. This story is tender, thought provoking, tragic and funny. The two correspondents challenge, teach and encourage each other through a series of big questions and life challenges. If you liked 84 Charring Cross Road and Tuesdays with Morrie - you will love The Attachment. Both writer Ailsa Piper & priest Tony Doherty are inspiring speakers - this will be a conversation you won’t want to miss! When:
THURSDAY 20 APRIL 2017
5.30pm for 6.00pm start The carrington Hotel Ballroom, Katoomba
$20 ($17 concession) includes drinks & nibbles
A blazingly beautiful, profound & honest book. AFTER examines in painful detail a situation facing many elderly & chronically ill people around the world. The shock of dealing with her mother, Elayn’s sudden euthanasia death was compounded when Nikki Gemmell also discovered Elayn had been liaising with Philip Nitschke and had imported the illegal drug Nembutal from Mexico. In After, Nikki questions her mother’s actions and asks if they should be celebrated as an act of empowerment and control, or condemned for the emotional havoc they wrecked across her stunned family. When: Where: cost:
SUNDAY 23 APRIL 2017
2.O0pm for 2.30pm start The carrington Hotel Ballroom, Katoomba $20 ($17 concession) includes afternoon tea
Bookings essential. Tickets available at Gleebooks Blackheath or phone Gleebooks on 4787 6340 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Southerly 76 - 2: Writing Disability ($26.95, PB) Blind writer and critic Amanda Tink discusses the impact of Henry Lawson’s deafness on his style and created world. Ben Stubbs walks the streets of Adelaide blindfolded to learn more of the sightless city. Deaf author Jessica White discusses the deafness of Maud Praed. Josephine Taylor writes an incisive essay on Vulvodynia. There are discussions of visible and invisible disabilities, of the poetics of disability, of disability and silence, of little known or largely unrecognised disabilities, and of the difficulties confronting discussion of disability in the first place.
The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova ($33, PB)
Alexandra Boyd has travelled to Bulgaria hoping to salve the wounds left by the loss of her beloved brother. But a luggage mix-up soon after she arrives finds her holding an urn filled with human ashes. As Alexandra sets out to return the precious item to its owners she finds ever more obstacles in her path, even as her determination grows greater—and the mystery behind the significance of the urn deepens. Soon she realises that this object is tied to the very darkest moments in the nation’s history, and that the stakes behind seeing it safely returned are higher than she could ever have imagined. Elizabeth Kostova’s new novel delves into the horrors of a century and traverses the culture & landscape of this mysterious country—exploring the power of stories and the hope and meaning that can sometimes be found in the aftermath of loss.
Kruso by Lutz Seiler ($33, PB)
2014 German Book Prize winner. 1989—a young literature student named Ed, fleeing unspeakable tragedy, travels to the Baltic island of Hiddensee. Long shrouded in myth, the island is a notorious destination for hippies, idealists & those at odds with the East German state. On the island, Ed stumbles upon the Klausner, Hiddensee’s most popular restaurant, and ends up washing dishes there, despite his lack of papers. Although he is keen to remain on the sidelines, Ed feels drawn towards the charismatic Kruso, unofficial leader of the seasonal workers. Everyone dances to Kruso’s tune. He is on a mission—but to what end, and at what cost? As the wave of history washes over the German Democratic Republic, the friends’ grip on reality loosens and life on the island will never be the same.
A Distant View of Everything by Alexander McCall Smith ($30, PB)
Isabel Dalhousie now has a second child—another boy, Magnus— and Charlie is far from thrilled. In Cat’s delicatessen, Isabel meets Bea, an old school chum known as an enthusiastic match-maker. She is worried because she has introduced a woman she knows to a gold-digging plastic surgeon—and asks Isabel to investigate. At first the pattern that emerges confirms her friend’s dire diagnosis, but as things develop it emerges that not only is the surgeon innocent, but he himself is the one in danger! Meanwhile Isabel finds herself to be the object of unwanted attention, bringing her to her final conclusion: match-make at one’s peril. Never tell people half-truths for paternalistic reasons... and Mind your own business (a lesson that Isabel never seems to learn).
The Accusation by Bandi ($28, PB) In 1989, a North Korean dissident writer, known to us only by the pseudonym Bandi, began to write a series of stories about life under Kim Il-sung’s totalitarian regime. His profound, vividly characterised stories tell of ordinary men & women facing the terrible absurdity of daily life in North Korea: a factory supervisor caught between loyalty to an old friend & loyalty to the Party; a woman struggling to feed her husband through the great famine; the staunch Party man whose actor son reveals to him the absurd theatre of their reality; the mother raising her child in a world where the all-pervasive propaganda is the very stuff of childhood nightmare. Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada
A polar bear, born & raised in captivity, is devastated by the loss of his keeper; another finds herself performing in the circus; a third sits down one day and pens a memoir which becomes an international sensation, and causes her to flee her home. Through the stories of these 3 bears, Yoko Tawada reflects on our own humanity, the ways in which we belong to one another and the ways in which we are formed. Translated by Susan Bernofsky. ($28, PB)
Swimmer Among The Stars by Kanishk Tharoor
An interview with the last speaker of a language. A chronicle of the final seven days of a town that is about to be razed to the ground by an invading army. The lonely voyage of an elephant from Kerala to a princess’s palace in Morocco. A fabled cook who flavours his food with precious stones. A coterie of international diplomats trapped in near-Earth orbit. The stories in this collection, reveal an extraordinary young storyteller, whose tales emerge from a tradition that includes the creators of the Arabian Nights, Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, Angela Carter & other ancient & modern masters of the fable. ($33, PB)
The Barrowfields by Phillip Lewis ($33, PB) Just before Henry Aster’s birth, his father, a frustrated novelist & lawyer, reluctantly returns to the remote North Carolina mountains & installs his young family in a gothic mansion worthy of his hero Edgar Allan Poe. There, Henry grows up under the desk of this fierce and brilliant man. But when a death in the family tips his father toward a fearsome unravelling, what was once a young son’s reverence is poisoned, and Henry flees, not to return until years later when he, too, must go home again.
House of Names by Colm Tóibín ($30, PB) Judged, despised, cursed by gods she has long since lost faith in, the murderess Clytemnestra tells of the deception of Agamemnon, how he sacrificed her eldest daughter—her beloved Iphigenia—to the Trojan campaign; how Clytemnestra used what power she had, seducing the prisoner Aegisthus, turning the government against its lord; plotting the many long years until her beacon fires announce the king’s return. Electra, daughter of a murdered father, loyal subject of the rightful king, watches Clytemnestra & her lover with cold anger and slowburning cunning. She watches, as they walk the gardens & corridors of the house of Atreus. She waits for the traitors to become complacent, to believe they are finally safe; she waits for her exiled brother, Orestes, for the boy to become a warrior, for fate to follow him home. She watches and she waits, until her spies announce her brother’s return. Colm Tóibín retells the story of Clytemnestra. The Kingdom by Emmanuel Carrère ($50, HB) Corinth, ancient Greece, two thousand years ago. An itinerant preacher, poor, wracked by illness, tells the story of a prophet who was crucified in Judea, who came back from the dead, and whose return is a sign of something enormous. Like a contagion, the story will spread over the city, the country and, eventually, the world. Emmanuel Carrère’s astonishing historical epic tells the story of the mysterious beginnings of Christianity, bringing to life a distant, primeval past of strange sects, apocalyptic beliefs and political turmoil. In doing so Carrère, once himself a fervent believer, questions his own faith, asks why we believe in resurrection, and what it means. ‘This is a brilliant, shocking book ...also witty, painfully self-critical and humane ...it is a work of great literature’ Tim Whitmarsh, Guardian Sorry to Disrupt the Peace Patty Yumi Cottrell
Helen Moran is 32 years old, single, childless, college-educated & partially employed as a guardian of troubled young people in NY. She’s accepting a delivery from IKEA in her shared studio apartment when her uncle calls to break the news—Helen’s adoptive brother is dead. She purchases a one-way ticket to Milwaukee where, as she searches her childhood home & attempts to uncover why someone would choose to die, she will face her estranged family, her brother’s few friends, and the overzealous grief counsellor Chad Lambo. A bleakly comic debut with shades of Bernhard, Beckett and Bowles. ($30, PB)
Tell Me How This Ends Well by David S. Levinson
In 2022, American Jews face an increasingly unsafe & anti-Semitic landscape at home. Against this backdrop, the Jacobson family gathers for Passover in Los Angeles—with the 3 adult children, Mo, Edith & Jacob, in various states of crisis; the result, each claims, of a lifetime of mistreatment by their father, Julian. The siblings have begun to suspect that Julian is hastening their mother Roz’s demise, and years of resentment boil over as they debate whether to go through with the real reason for their reunion: an ill-considered plot to end their father’s iron rule forever. That is, if they can put their bickering, grudges, festering relationships & distrust of one another aside long enough to act. And God help them if their mother finds out. ($33, PB)
Now in B Format The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver, $23 Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift, $20 Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves, $20 LaRose by Louise Erdrich, $20 The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson, $23 The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall ($30, PB)
George Woodbury is a teacher at a prestigious Connecticut prep school. He is voted Teacher of the Year every year, after he rescued the school from a gunman attack. On his daughter’s 17th birthday this beloved husband & father, is arrested for sexual impropriety with teenage girls on a skiing trip. His wife, Joan, vaults between denial & rage as the community she loved turns on her. Their daughter, Sadie, a popular over-achieving high school senior, becomes a social pariah. Their son, Andrew, a lawyer, assists in his father’s defense, while wrestling with his own unhappy memories of his teen years coming out as gay. With George awaiting trial, how do the members of his family pick up the pieces & keep living their lives? How do they defend someone they love while wrestling with the possibility of his guilt?
Temporary People by Deepak Unnikrishnan ($27, PB) In the UAE foreign nationals constitute over 80% of the population. Brought in to construct the towering monuments to wealth of Abu Dhabi & Dubai, this labour force works without the rights of citizenship, endures miserable living conditions, and is ultimately forced to leave the country. Combining the irrepressible linguistic invention of Salman Rushdie & the satirical vision of George Saunders, Unnikrishnan presents 28 linked stories that careen from construction workers who shapeshift into luggage & escape a labour camp, to a woman who stitches back together the bodies of those who’ve fallen from buildings in progress, to a man who grows ideal workers designed to live 12 years and then perish—until they don’t, and found a rebel community in the desert.
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B L ACK I S T H E N E W O R A N G E 5
THE WILDER AISLES
Recently, I had a short stay in hospital, an event which came as a shock. Seeing the doctor one day, operated on the next. As you can gather I was quite unprepared, most of all I had nothing to read. So I searched through the books piled high next to my bed, looking for something to take with me and I found a copy of Colm Tóibín’s Nora Webster. I had intended to read this when it was released, but something held me back. I was a bit worried what Tóibín would do to Nora—but being slightly desperate, I took the book with me to hospital, and was very glad I took the chance. I loved the character of Nora, a strong-willed independent woman, who is forced to make a new life for herself and her children after the death of her much loved husband. How Nora copes with being a widow is a wonderful story of someone learning to stand up for themselves and create a new way of living. Resisting being seen as vulnerable, the 40 year old Nora goes back to work, and as she struggles with her new life, problems with her boys, the rise of troubles in the south, she grows stronger and more independent. A favourite part for me was when Nora begins singing lessons. Her mother was a singer and Nora has inherited this ability. As I love singing, I was right there with her at her lessons and her recital. By a strange coincidence, Amy, the woman in the bed opposite mine, came from Waterford, quite close to Enniscorthy where the novel is set. So I gave her the book when I left—but I need to get another copy, as I feel this is one of those books that could take a second reading. I picked up Sinning Across Spain: A Walker’s Journey From Granada to Galicia by Ailsa Piper because I have long been fascinated by the idea of walking the Camino de Compostela—having friends who have done part or all of the trail. Piper’s book is a bit different from the others I have read, as in the fashion of medieval believers who used to pay others to carry their sins to holy places, Piper offers to carry other peoples sins for them. She advertises for people to lay their sins on her, asking them to donate money for her journey—enough to cover her expenses as she makes her way along the pilgrim walk. So, shouldering the usual suspects—sloth, envy, lust, pride etc (some of which are her own), Piper chooses to take the longest path, starting in Granada and finishing in Santiago de Compostela, and then on to Cabo. de Finisterre on the Atlantic Ocean—a walk of 1200 kilometres. She never expected the journey to be easy, and it wasn’t. Other walkers interrupted her preferred solitary perambulations—alone with the sins she is carrying. But along the way she meets great kindness, gifts of food and lodging, and of course the beauty of the landscape. After her book was published Roman Catholic Priest, Tony Doherty emailed Piper, and a great friendship sprang up. This led to the publishing of their collected correspondence called The Attachment. It’s due for release this month, and Doherty and Piper will be at Gleebooks on the 19th April. I hope to see you there. Lastly, a book I picked up among the proof copies at work is Where Hummingbirds Dance by Susi Prescott. Actually, it was among the proofs that my colleague, Ingrid, put aside for me thinking I might find it interesting—and she was right. Prescott’s memoir is the story of the breakdown of a marriage and a journey to a new life in a new country. Susi was a school teacher— teaching French—living with her husband and four children in a big house on Sydney’s North Shore. But when her husband, Richard, suddenly leaves after one counselling session, Susi’s world falls apart. She stumbles through the following weeks—falling, picking herself up and getting through it with the help of friends and colleagues who rallied around with wine and hugs. On the first night the children had dinner with dad, Susi drank a bottle of wine while watching a DVD and crying. The next day, with a terrible hangover, she decided that she had to do something with the rest of her life. First, she spends time in Nepal and Rwanda, working as a language educator. Next, she goes on a five week trek in Peru, during which time she visited a city called Arequipa in the Andes. There she finds a new life awaiting her. Wanting to stay but needing a job, she enrols in a Spanish language course and emails an English language institute in Arequipa. After a few weeks with no response, Susi emails them and finds, to her alarm, they are expecting her in three weeks. At the writing of the book she has been there six years—mostly spent working at the Colegio Elohim, an impoverished school at the foot of the Andes. Here she has found extremely difficult conditions. Children live in direst poverty—with fathers who drink and mothers who work hard to feed and clothe the family. She has come to love the children, and they her .On her trips back to Sydney Susi organises fund raisers and has managed to build two new classrooms—complete with a roof—which means no more rain coming in. During her time in Arequipa, Susi met and fell in love with Antonio—a man from the institute. Things didn’t go smoothly, with a clash of cultures part of the problem. This is a very interesting story of a woman searching for a new way of living and a new meaning in life, which she finds among the poor, destitute children of Peru. Susi Prescott is also at Gleebooks this month—on Thursday the 6th. Janice Wilder
Earthly Remains by Donna Leon ($30, PB)
During the interrogation of an entitled, arrogant man suspected of giving drugs to a young girl who then died, Commissario Guido Brunetti acts rashly, and in the aftermath, he begins to doubt his career choices and realises that he needs a break from the stifling problems of his work. Granted leave from the Questura, Brunetti is shipped off by his wife, Paola, to a villa owned by a wealthy relative on Sant’Erasmo, one of the largest islands in the Venetian laguna. There, he intends to pass his days rowing, and his nights reading Pliny’s Natural History. But the caretaker goes missing & Brunetti feels compelled to set aside his holiday & discover what happened to the man who had recently become his friend. The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir ($30, PB) In Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s new series, the only witness to a shocking murder is the victim’s 7 year-old daughter, Margret. The police turn to the Children’s House for their expertise in childhood trauma. The manager Freyja doesn’t much like the police—especially the detective in charge, Huldar. But she does want to help them protect Margret. And when more people die—their murders heralded by strange messages, texts, and strings of numbers—they will have to work together to crack the riddle before they become targets themselves.
The House of Four by Barbara Nadel ($33, PB) Everyone in the Istanbul neighbourhood of Moda knows the Devil’s House. A crumbling Ottoman mansion, and once the home of a princess, it is a place associated with ill fortune. The princess’s four children, now in old age, still live in separate apartments on different floors & are rumoured never to speak to each other. Then one of them is found dead, stabbed through the heart, and it is discovered that the other three siblings have met an identical fate. There is no sign of forced entry or burglary, & all evidence must be gained from letters & diaries—as Inspector Ikmen digs into their past it becomes clear they have been harbouring a secret.
Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr ($33, PB)
It’s 1956 and Bernie Gunther is on the run from the East German Stasi. The man sent to hunt him is an ex-Kripo colleague, and as Bernie pushes towards Germany he recalls their last case together. In 1939, Bernie was summoned by Reinhard Heydrich to the Berghof: Hitler’s mountain home in Obersalzberg. A low-level German bureaucrat had been murdered, and the Reichstag deputy Martin Bormann, in charge of overseeing renovations to the Berghof, wants the case solved quickly. If the Führer were ever to find out that his own house had been the scene of a recent murder, the consequences wouldn’t bear thinking about.
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
After years spent living on the run, Samuel Hawley moves with his teenage daughter Loo to Olympus, Massachusetts. There, in his late wife’s hometown, Hawley finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at school and grows curious about her mother’s mysterious death. Haunting them both are 12 scars Hawley carries on his body, 12 bullets in his criminal past—a past that eventually spills over into his daughter’s present, until together they must face a reckoning yet to come. ($30, PB)
Domina by L. S. Hilton ($30, PB)
Everything you thought you knew about Maestra ... You don’t. Judith Rashleigh in a new thriller. She thought her troubles were over...they’re only just getting started. Judith Rashleigh has made it. Living a life of luxury amidst the splendour of Venice, she’s just starting to grow comfortable. Which is when her past catches up with her. Someone knows what Judith’s done. Facing blackmail, Judith can only save herself by finding a priceless picture—unfortunately one she’s convinced doesn’t exist. And she isn’t the only one seeking it. Outflanked and out-thought, outrun and outgunned, she faces an enemy more powerful and more ruthless than she ever imagined. And if she doesn’t win, she dies.
Eyes Like Mine by Sheena Kamal ($30, PB)
The phone rings. The man on the other end says his daughter is missing. Your daughter. The baby you gave away over fifteen years ago. What do you do? Nora Watts isn’t sure that she wants to get involved. Troubled, messed up, and with more than enough problems of her own, Nora doesn’t want to revisit the past. But then she sees the photograph. A girl, a teenager, with her eyes. How can she turn her back on her? Canadian author Sheena Kamal has created a kick-ass protagonist who give Lisbeth Salander a run for her money.
The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans ($30, PB)
A mysterious keepsake, a murdered bride, a legacy of secrets... One balmy June evening in 1881, Phoebe Stanbury stands before the guests at her engagement party: this is her moment, when she will join the renowned Raycraft family and ascend to polite society. As she takes her fiancé’s hand, a stranger holding a knife steps forward and ends the poor girl’s life. Amid the chaos, he turns to her aristocratic groom and mouths: ‘I promised I would save you.’ The following morning, just a few miles away, timid young legal clerk William Lamb meets a reclusive client. He finds the old man terrified and in desperate need of aid: William must keep safe a small casket of yellowing papers, and deliver an enigmatic message: The Finder knows.
The Shadow District by Arnaldur Indridason ($33, PB) In WW2 Reykjavik, a young woman is found strangled behind the National Theatre, a rough and dangerous area of the city known as ‘the shadow district’. An Icelandic detective and a member of the American military police are on the trail of a brutal killer. In 2017, a 90 year-old man is discovered dead on his bed, smothered with his own pillow. Recruited to investigate, retired detective, Konrad, finds newspaper cuttings in the dead man’s home reporting the WW2 shadow district murder. Konrad remembers this crime, having grown up in the same neighbourhood. Why has this crime resurfaced? Did the police arrest the wrong man? Will Konrad’s link to the past help him solve the case and finally lay the ghosts of wartime Reykjavik to rest? Hidden Hours by Sara Foster ($30, PB)
Arabella Lane, senior executive at a children’s publisher, is found dead in the Thames on a frosty winter’s morning after the office Christmas party. No one is sure whether she jumped or was pushed. The one person who may know the truth is the newest employee at Parker & Lane – the office temp, Eleanor. Eleanor has travelled to London to escape the repercussions of her traumatic childhood in outback Australia, but now tragedy seems to follow her wherever she goes. To her horror, she has no memory of the crucial hours leading up to Arabella’s death—memory that will either incriminate or absolve her.
Arrowood by Mick Finlay ($30, PB) 1895: London. A killer haunts the city’s streets. The poor are hungry, crime bosses are taking control—and while the rich can turn to Sherlock Holmes, the celebrated private detective rarely visits the poor & densely populated streets of South London. In a dark corner of Southwark, victims turn to a man who despises Holmes, his wealthy clientele & his showy forensic approach to crime: Arrowood—self-taught psychologist, occasional drunkard & private investigator. A man mysteriously disappears, Arrowood’s best lead is stabbed before his eyes—he and his sidekick Barnett face their toughest quest yet.
“A hugely important contribution towards solving the greatest environmental problem of our times” – Tim Flannery
Girl Zero by A. A. Dhand ($33, PB)
There are some things no-one should ever have to see. Standing over the body of your beloved—and murdered—niece is one of them. For DI Harry Virdee, a man perilously close to the edge, it feels like the beginning of the end. But before he dives into the murky depths of the Bradford underworld and find the monster who killed his flesh and blood, he must tell his brother, Ron, the terrible news. Impulsive, dangerous and alarmingly well connected, Ron will act first and think later. Harry may have a murderer to find but if he isn’t careful, he may also have a murder to prevent.
A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys ($33, PB) 1939, Europe on the brink of war: Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner bound for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. Seduced by the cocktails, black-tie balls & beautiful sunsets, she finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day. But the rich and hedonistic Max & Eliza Campbell, mysterious & flirtatious Edward & fascist George are all running away from tragedy & scandal even greater than her own. And by the time the ship docks in Sydney, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.
crisis that offers a range of practical solutions – and above all, hope. Climate change is the most important crisis humanity has faced, but we still confront huge barriers to resolving it. So, what do we do, and is there hope for humanity? Just Cool It is David Suzuki at his most passionate and cogent.
‘An important book, both
A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn ($17, PB)
timely and compelling...’
Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring & intrepid women, where she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task—saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth, accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, from execution. But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems, & unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. With her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer—a ruthless villain who not only took Artemisia’s life in cold blood but is happy to see Ramsforth hang for the crime.
– Henry Reynolds
n Australia’s rush to commemorate all things Anzac,
have we lost our ability to look beyond war as the central pillar of Australia’s history and identity? Renowned writers including Paul Daley, Mark McKenna, Peter Stanley, Carolyn Holbrook, Mark
Paradise City by Joe Thomas ($22, PB)
Mario Leme is a low-ranking detective in the Sao Paolo civil police. Every day on the way to work he sets off early & drives through the favela known as Paraisópolis—Paradise City. It’s a pilgrimage: his wife Renata was gunned down at an intersection here a year ago, the victim of a stray bullet in a conflict between drug dealers. One morning, parked near the place where Renata died, he sees an SUV careen out of control & flip over. The driver Leo is killed, & Leme is sure he sees bullet wounds— Leo was murdered. Soon, Leo’s girlfriend turns up dead too. And if they were killed deliberately, perhaps Renata was too.
Say Nothing by Brad Parks ($30, PB)
Judge Scott Sampson is preparing to pick up his six-year-old twins for their weekly swim. His wife Alison texts him with a change of plan: she has to take them to the doctor instead. So Scott heads home early. But when Alison arrives back later, she is alone - no Sam, no Emma - and denies any knowledge of the text . . .The phone then rings: an anonymous voice tells them that the Judge must do exactly what he is told in an upcoming drug case and, most importantly, they must ‘say nothing’. A twisting game of cat and mouse ensues, with some fascinating insight into the US judicial system & its politics of influence & nepotism.
Agreement wake-up call
about the urgency of the climate
Dapin, Carmen Lawrence, Stuart Macintyre, Frank Bongiorno and Larissa Behrendt explore not only the militarisation of our history but the alternative narratives swamped under the khaki-wash – Indigenous history, frontier conflict, multiculturalism, the myth of egalitarianism, economics and the environment.
w w w. n ews o u t h p u b l i s h i n g .co m
Now in B Format Out of Bounds by Val McDermid, $20
Be Like the Fox: Machiavelli’s Lifelong Quest for Freedom by Erica Benner ($50, HB)
Niccolò Machiavelli lived in a fiercely competitive world, one where brute wealth, brazen liars & ruthless self-promoters seemed to carry off all the prizes; where the wealthy elite grew richer at the expense of their fellow citizens. In times like these, many looked to crusading religion to solve their problems, or they turned to a new breed of leaders—super-rich dynasties like the Medici or military strongmen like Cesare Borgia; upstarts from outside the old ruling classes. In the republic of Florence, Machiavelli & his contemporaries faced a choice: should they capitulate to these new princes, or fight to save the city’s democratic freedoms? Interweaving Machiavelli’s words with those of his friends & enemies, Erica Benner breathes life into his penetrating, comical, often surprising comments on events. Far from a cynical henchman, Machiavelli emerges as his era’s staunchest champion of liberty—a profound ethical thinker who refused to compromise his ideals to fit corrupt times. But he did sometimes have to mask his true convictions, becoming a great artist of fox-like dissimulation: a master of disguise in dangerous times.
Gone: A Girl, A Violin, A Life Unstrung by Min Kym ($33, PB)
At 7 years old Min Kym was a prodigy, the youngest ever pupil at the Purcell School of Music. At 11 she won her first international prize. She worked with many violins, waiting for the day she would play ‘the one’. At 21 she found it: a rare 1696 Stradivarius, perfectly suited to her build and temperament. Her career soared. She recorded the Brahms concerto & a world tour was planned. Then, in a train station café, her violin was stolen from her side. In an instant her world collapsed. She descended into a terrifying limbo land, unable to play or function. This is a story of isolation & dependence, of love, loss & betrayal, and the intense, almost human bond that a musician has with their instrument.
Things That Helped: A Memoir of Illness and Recovery by Jessica Friedmann ($30, PB)
Through the tide of hormones ebbing and flowing my body, and the little runnels of blood and the sour tang of my breasts, I lay awake, listening, and thinking of breath and of water. I had broken my relationship with sleep. In this collection, Jessica Friedmann navigates her journey through postpartum depression after the birth of her son, Owen. Drawing on critical theory, popular culture, and personal experience, her wide-ranging essays touch on class, race, gender & sexuality, as well as motherhood, creativity & mental illness.
The Gamekeeper by Portia Simpson ($36, HB)
Portia Simpson grew up in the Scottish outdoors, always preferring to climb trees than play indoors. She became the first female to graduate as a Gamekeeper and Wildlife Manager, and in this memoir, Portia tells the story of how she first broke into a traditionally conservative, male-dominated profession & the skills, training & dedication that helped to set her apart. She gives an intimate account of a life filled with stunning landscapes, heartwrenching lows & magnificent highs, and shares her expert insight into the world of game keeping. Offering a sense of wonder at the mystique and natural beauty of the wild, this is a fascinating and unique look at the life of the huntswoman.
The Fabulous Flying Mrs Miller by Carol Baxter
When the young Jessie ‘Chubbie’ Miller left suburban Melbourne and her newspaperman husband in 1927, little did she know that she’d become the first woman to complete an England to Australia flight (with a black silk gown thrown into her small flight bag, just in case), or fly the first air race for women with Amelia Earhart, or that she would disappear over the Florida Straits feared lost forever only to charm her way to a rescue. Nor could she have predicted that five years later she’d find herself at the centre of one of the most notorious and controversial murder trials in US history. And this all began with something as ridiculously mundane as a pat of butter. ($33, PB)
Renegade: The Life and Times of Darcus Howe by Robin Bunce & Paul Field ($20, PB)
Born in Trinidad during the dying days of British colonialism, Darcus Howe has become an uncompromising champion of racial justice. This book examines how Howe’s unique political outlook was inspired by the example of his friend & mentor C.L.R. James, and forged in the heat of the American civil rights movement, as well as Trinidad’s Black Power Revolution. It sheds new light on Howe’s leading role in the defining struggles in Britain against institutional racism in the police, the courts & the media, focussing on his part as a defendant in the trial of the Mangrove Nine, the high point of Black Power in Britain; his role in conceiving & organizing the Black People’s Day of Action, the largest ever demonstration by the black community in Britain, and his later work as one of a prominent journalist and political commentator.
Miss Muriel Matters: The Australian Actress Who Became One of London’s Most Famous Suffragist by Robert Wainwright ($33, PB)
In 1909, a young Australian actress made headlines around the world when she took to the sky over London in an airship emblazoned with the slogan ‘Votes for Women’ & dropped leaflets over the city. Muriel Matters was dubbed ‘that daring Australian girl’, and the American media declared it to be the world’s first aerial protest. Just months earlier, Muriel had become the first woman to make a speech in the British House of Commons, after chaining herself to a brass grille to protest against the segregation of women in the Parliament. She went on to become one of the most famous suffragists of her day, her skill as an orator drawing crowds in their thousands.
Milosz: A Biography by Andrzej Franaszek
Andrzej Franaszek recounts the poet, Czeslaw Milosz’s, personal odyssey through the events that convulsed 20th century Europe: World War I, the Bolshevik revolution, the Nazi invasion & occupation of Poland & the Soviet Union’s postwar dominance of Eastern Europe. He traces Milosz’s changing, constantly questioning, often skeptical attitude toward organized religion. Despite years of hardship, alienation & neglect, Milosz retained a belief in the transformative power of poetry, particularly its capacity to serve as a source of moral resistance & a reservoir of collective hope. Translated by Aleksandra Parker & Michael Parker, this edition contains a new introduction by the translators, along with historical explanations, maps & a chronology. ($79, HB)
A Wife’s Heart: The Untold Story of Bertha and Henry Lawson by Kerrie Davies ($29.95, PB)
Henry Lawson is a revered cultural icon, but despite his literary success he descended into poverty and an early death. While many blamed his wife for his decline, Bertha Lawson alleged in April 1903 that Henry was habitually drunk & cruel, leading her to demand a judicial separation. Kerrie Davies provides a rare account of this tumultuous relationship from Bertha’s perspective, in an era when women’s rights were advancing considerably. Reproducing the Lawsons’ letters—some of which have never been published— alongside her personal reflections, Davies explores the couple’s courtship, marriage & eventual separation, as Bertha struggled to raise their two children as a single parent. Examined through a modern lens, this is an innovative, imaginative work of biography that reflects on the politics of relationships & the enduring complexities of love.
Dear Quentin: Letters of a Governor-General
As Australia’s first female Governor-General, Quentin Bryce handwrote more than fifty letters each week, and she received even more letters from every corner of the country. This is a rich collection of the letters she wrote and received during her sixyear term to prime ministers Rudd and Gillard, VC Mark Donaldson, pals Anne Summers and Wendy McCarthy, Indigenous elders, war vets, Girl Guides, grandchildren, as well as the proud owner of a calf called Quentin. Royalties from this book will be donated to Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. ($45, HB)
Gleebooks’ special price $40 The Mysterious Mr Jacob: Diamond Merchant, Magician and Spy by John Zubrzycki ($30, PB)
In 1891, a notorious jeweller & curio dealer from Simla offered to sell the world’s largest brilliant-cut diamond to the fabulously wealthy Nizam of Hyderabad. The Nizam accused him of fraud, triggering a sensational trial in the Calcutta High Court that made headlines around the world. The dealer was Alexander Malcolm Jacob, a man of mysterious origins. After arriving penniless in Bombay in 1865, he became the most famous purveyor of precious stones in princely India—a confidante of Viceroys & Maharajas. Jacob also excelled in the magical arts. He inspired all those who met him, including Rudyard Kipling who immortalised him as Lurgan Sahib, the ‘healer of sick pearls’, in his novel Kim. John Zubrzycki follows Jacob’s journey from the slums of Bombay, to the fabulous court of the Nizam of Hyderabad, in a page turner of strange twists & unexpected outcomes.
Being Wagner: The Triumph of the Will by Simon Callow ($35, HB)
His ten great mature masterpieces constitute an unmatched body of work, created against a backdrop of poverty, revolution, violent controversy, critical contempt and hysterical hero-worship. As a man, he was a walking contradiction, aggressive, flirtatious, disciplined, capricious, heroic, visionary and poisonously anti-Semitic. At one point, he had four lengthy operas written with no hope of being performed when, as if in a fairy-tale, he was rescued by a beautiful young king with limitless wealth which he bestowed on the composer. Simon Callow recalls the intellectual and artistic climate in which Wagner worked, recording the almost superhuman effort required to create his work, and evoking the extraordinary effect he had on people.
After by Nikki Gemmell ($29.99, PB) Nikki Gemmell’s world changed forever in October 2015 when the body of her elderly mother, Elayn, was found & it became clear she had decided to end her own life. After the immediate shock & devastation came the guilt & the horror, for Gemmell, her family, relatives & friends. No note was left, so the questions that Elayn’s death raised were endless. Was the decision an act of independence or the very opposite? Was it a desperate act driven by hopelessness & anger, or was her euthanasia a reasoned act of empowerment? After is the story of Elayn Gemmell—and the often difficult, prickly relationship between mothers & daughters, and how that changes over time. ‘This is a brave, raw and brutally honest account looking back through her grief at her mother’s life, at the relationship between mother & daughter, at the awful course of circumstance which determined her choice (a botched foot operation which effectively immobilised her)—I read it in one sitting.’ David Gaunt Nikki is at Gleebooks on April 2nd.
Gleebooks’ special price $26.99 Nevertheless: A Memoir by Alec Baldwin ($33, PB) Award winning actor, and the world’s favourite ‘Donald Trump, Alec Baldwin introduces us to the Long Island child who felt burdened by his family’s financial strains & his parents’ unhappy marriage; the Washington, DC, college student gearing up for a career in politics; the selfnamed ‘Love Taxi’ who helped friends solve their romantic problems while neglecting his own; the young soap actor learning from giants of the theatre; the addict drawn to drugs & alcohol who struggles with sobriety; the husband & father who acknowledges his failings & battles to overcome them; and the consummate professional for whom the work is everything.
Four Seasons In Rome by Anthony Doerr ($25, PB)
On the same day that his wife gave birth to twins, Anthony Doerr received the Rome Prize, an award that gave him a year-long stipend and studio in Rome. This book charts the repercussions of that day, describing Doerr’s varied adventures in one of the most enchanting cities in the world, and the first year of parenthood. He reads Pliny, Dante, and Keats—the chroniclers of Rome who came before him— and visits the piazzas, temples, and ancient cisterns they describe. He attends the vigil of a dying Pope John Paul II and takes his twins to the Pantheon in December to wait for snow to fall through the oculus. He & his family are embraced by the butchers, grocers & bakers of the neighbourhood, with their clamour of stories & idiosyncratic child-rearing advice. This intimate and revelatory book is a celebration of Rome, a wondrous look at new parenthood and a fascinating account of the alchemy of writers.
A Land Without Borders: My Journey Around East Jerusalem and the West Bank by Nir Baram ($33, PB)
Nir Baram spent a year & a half travelling around the West Bank & East Jerusalem—navigating the conflict-ridden regions & hostile terrain to speak with a wide range of people, among them PalestinianIsraeli citizens trapped behind the separation wall in Jerusalem & Jewish settlers determined to forge new lives on the West Bank. Baram also talks to children on Kibbutz Nirim who lived through the war in Gaza, and ex-prisoners from Fatah who, after spending years detained in Israeli jails, are now promoting a peace initiative. He also returns to Jerusalem, city of his birth, where a hushed civil war is in full swing. This is a perceptive & sensitive exploration of a labyrinthine conflict & the experiences of the people ensnared in it.
Where Hummingbirds Dance by Susi Prescott
Susi Prescott had it all. A large, busy family, a school teaching job she loved, a home on Sydney’s leafy North Shore. But with the sudden demise of her 30 year marriage, her world crumbles. So she packs up her former life and moves to the city of Arequipa in Peru, where she starts working at Colegio Elohim, a struggling school at the foot of the Andes. Arequipa teases with contrasts: colonial elegance ringed by sprawling slums; worldly affluence alongside grinding poverty; intellectuals decrying corruption & sexism; while the joy of song & dance transcends all barriers. Amongst all this Prescott learned valuable lessons about hardship and injustice; about turning disaster into opportunity; about the nature of conflict and forgiveness. ($25, PB)
Tragic Shores: A Memoir Of Dark Travel by Thomas Cook ($33, PB)
With his wife & daughter, Thomas Cook travels across the globe in search of darkness—from Lourdes to Ghana, from San Francisco to Verdun, from the monumental, mechanised horror of Auschwitz to the intimate personal grief of a shrine to dead infants in Kamukura, Japan. Along the way he reflects on what these sites may teach us, not only about human history, but about our own personal histories—from the leper colony on Molokai to ground zero at Hiroshima, he finds not darkness alone, but a light that can illuminate the darkness within each of us.
THE TREEHOUSE FUN BOOK 2 Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton Stuff to write! Pictures to draw! Puzzles to solve! And so much more! Grab your Treehouse passport and hold on tight for an adventure through the bestselling Treehouse series. Join Andy, Terry and Jill as they combine animals, create magical kingdoms, time travel, solve crosswords, search for words, colour and scribble, spot the difference, find the odd one out, crack codes and so much more!
THE SILENT INVASION James Bradley “A seriously addictive page-turner” Missy Higgins “Fascinating, frightening and utterly compelling” Garth Nix It’s 2027 and the human race is dying. Plants, animals and humans have been infected by spores from space and become part of a vast alien intelligence. When 16-year-old Callie discovers her little sister Gracie has been infected, she flees with Gracie to the Zone, where what she finds will alter her irrevocably. The first book in a heart-stopping and suspenseful YA trilogy from award-winning author James Bradley.
HAPPY & WHOLE Magdalena Roze Magdalena’s food is simple, nutritious and delicious. Her recipes celebrate traditional wholefoods that not only taste great, but also have great health benefits. It’s the way our grandparents (or great grandparents) used to eat, but with a little bit of indulgence too. It’s not about eliminating things such as sugar, dairy or carbs, but focusing more on what’s in season, tastes the best and then enjoying every moment of what we make!
THE FIVE INVITATIONS Frank Ostaseski This beautiful book is at home in an energising genre that finally allows us to talk about death. ‘The Five Invitations’ show us how to accept and embrace dying in the midst of a death-denying era and explain how death can be the guide we need to wake up fully to our lives. An exhilarating meditation on the meaning of life and how maintaining an ever-present awareness of death can bring us closer to our truest selves, this stunning, unforgettable book offers a radical path to transformation. www.panmacmillan.com.au
The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love by Per J. Andersson Pradyumna Kumar, aka PK, was born into a poor, untouchable family in a small village in eastern India. Throughout his childhood he kept a palm leaf bearing an astrologer’s prophecy: ‘You will marry a girl who is not from the village, not even from the country; she will be musical, own a jungle & be born under the sign of the ox’. Incredibly, it was a prophecy that would come true. Part reportage, part travel narrative & part memoir, this journey takes PK, armed with only a handful of paintbrushes & a second-hand bicycle, from the jungles of eastern India to the forests of Sweden. ($30, PB)
The New Paris: The People, Places & Ideas Fueling a Movement by Lindsey Tramuta
In the last few years, Paris—long-adored for its medieval vestiges, old-timey brasseries & corner cafes has had a flood of new ideas & new residents that has infused a once-static, traditional city with a new open-minded sensibility & energy. Journalist Lindsey Tramuta offers detailed insight into the rapidly evolving worlds of food, wine, pastry, coffee, beer, fashion & design in Paris. She puts the spotlight on the new trends & people that are making France’s capital a more whimsical, creative, vibrant & curious place to explore than its classical reputation might suggest. ($40, HB)
Sansovino’s Venice (eds) Vaughan Hart & Peter Hicks ($55, HB)
This is the first English translation of Francesco Sansovino’s (1521– 1586) celebrated guide to Venice, which was first published in 1561. One of the earliest books to describe the monuments of Venice for inquisitive travellers, Sansovino’s guide was written at a time when St Mark’s Piazza was in the process of taking the form we see today. With in-depth descriptions of the buildings created by the author’s father, noted sculptor & architect Jacopo Sansovino (1486–1570), including the Mint, Library, & Loggetta, the volume presents a vivid portrait of Venice during a particularly rich moment in the city’s history. An engaging introduction & scholarly annotations to the original text gives the modern reader an appreciation of the history of this great city as well as a practical guide for seeking out and enjoying its Renaissance treasures.
Now in B Format The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing, $25
books for kids to young adults Plenty of Love to Go Round! by Emma Chichester Clark ($17, PB / $30, HB)
Oh I am partial to Plum, he’s a very special dog—he has his own marvellous blog, and now his own picture books. Emma Chichester Clark’s beloved ‘whoosell’ (whippet, Jack Russell and poodle cross) is the subject for these books, all written in the first person by Plum himself. In Plenty of Love to go Around, Plum has a new neighbour—a white cat named Binky. Plum’s nose is out of joint, he simply can’t see what all the fuss is about. Binky may be a very appealing little cat, but not to Plum. With absolute compassion and humour, Emma Chichester Clark deftly describes, through Plum’s words and her pictures, the terrible sense of selfdefeating jealousy that many children feel when there’s a new small person around. This book joins the ranks of brilliant picture books like Charlotte Voake’s Ginger, and Jenny Wagner’s John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat. High praise indeed. Louise
Norton and Alpha by Kristyna Litten ($25, HB)
Reminiscent of the Pixar film Wall-E, this story of Norton the robot’s attempts to care for the single flower he discovers in his mechanical landscape is both beguiling and poignant. Containing subtexts of friendship, Nature and beauty, it is simple enough for young readers, with a provocative depth as well. I shan’t be surprised if Litten’s endearing picture book is an award contender. Lynndy
The Earth Book by Jonathan Litton, (ill) Thomas Hegbrook ($40, HB)
‘Welcome to a world of wonders! In this enormous book about the Earth there is so much to explore! Readers can marvel at the physical planet, travel back in time to primordial Earth, explore all branches of the tree of life, discover habitats from oceans to deserts, learn how the weather works and take a tour of the human planet from the Maasai steppe to Manhattan.’ Fascinating and beautifully presented, this is a book for all families and classrooms, with details to pore over endlessly. Lynndy
A Piglet Called Truffle by Helen Peters ($13, PB)
Jasmine loves animals, and is perfectly placed to get full exposure to them—she lives on a farm with a farmer father and a veterinarian mother. When she rescues a tiny piglet from a grumpy neighbouring farmer’s sow and her litter, she finds herself having to hide it from her family. What follows next is to be expected… but Jasmine learns there’s more to pigs than she first realises. Helen Peters captures all the fun, and really hard work of life on a farm, and Ellie Snowdon’s illustrations really add a layer of warmth and detail to the book. Louise
The Blue Cat by Ursula Dubosarsky
In sparse eloquent prose, multi-award-winning author Dubosarsky offers a different perspective of wartime, filtered through the experiences of Columba who is trying to understand and incorporate changes to her world in 1942 Sydney. Columba is the only child at her primary school who makes an effort to relate to Ellery, the German refugee with no English, and their odd friendship is far more peaceful than that she shares with exuberant, entrepreneurial Hilda and other school friends. The characters are realistic and credible; linked in varying degrees through the search for the blue cat, missing from the house of Columba’s secretive neighbours after an air raid practice. It’s easy to glean a sense of that era through the insightful writing and the inclusion of primary sources such as documents about water restrictions and national security, the Nock and Kirby’s ad, a photo from Luna Park, and the links to Ellery’s European background. Foremost is Columba’s altered innocence—while period detail is unobtrusively part of the whole, enriching both the novel and our knowledge. Astonishingly simple and elegant, The Blue Cat reasserts Dubosarsky’s skill as a writer, and will surely garner awards. Highly recommended. Lynndy
compiled by Lynndy Bennett, our children's correspondent
Olivia the Spy by Ian Falconer ($25, HB)
Definitely my favourite Olivia book yet! After some mishaps, feisty young Olivia is alarmed by an overheard discussion between her parents about her behaviour. Misinterpreting what she hears, Olivia embarks on a campaign to discover more (most would call it eavesdropping), and her uncharacteristic subtlety as a spy is hilarious. Falconer’s charcoal and gouache illustrations of Olivia camouflaged by household items are wonderfully entertaining for adults and children alike, as is Olivia’s discovery that her birthday treat is a surprise visit to the ballet, rather than imprisonment as she feared. Add this to your collection of porcine treasures. Lynndy
for beginner readers
Mo Willems is better known for his picture books, especially his Pigeon series, but don’t overlook his early readers. The scanty text in Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie books (eg. I am Invited to a Party!; My Friend is Sad; Are You Ready to Play Outside?—$11, PB) belies the depth of story, while minimalist expressive illustrations allow focus on the text which is all in speech or thought bubbles. Best friends Elephant and Piggie encounter relatable events, such as going to a party, feeling sad, learning new skills, the difficulty of waiting, and other childhood dilemmas. These are endearingly positive books pitched at starters on the reading trajectory. Lynndy
fiction for primary level readers
The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes
Billy Miller is starting second grade worried; two weeks before he’d fallen on his head badly, and gone to hospital. What seems to be a disaster is in fact just one of the many incidents—some big, some small—that happen to Billy in his year. Kevin Henkes has a knack of getting into the heads of all his child characters, be they mice or human, and his skill is his ability to take the reader with him. All the fears and triumphs of a small child’s life are taken into consideration, nothing is deemed unimportant. The parents and the teachers in Kevin Henkes’ books are very human, but always wonderful. And yet this is not an idealised view of childhood, just a very considered and hopeful one. The author’s own delightful black and white vignettes are throughout the book. ($15, PB) Louise
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall ($14, PB) This is the first of a quartet of books about the Penderwicks, a family of four sisters and their father, and their dog. It runs along the lines of classic family stories, (Little Women, the Bastables, the Casson family, all spring to mind). The Penderwicks are on holiday in a marvellous cottage, next door to the intimidating owner of the cottage, and her young son Jeffrey. Each of the girls is very much her own person, but they are united as a family. This may sound very familiar, but the book is not weaker for it, in fact their small adventures seem more surprising, as it is set in contemporary times. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Louise
Food, Health & Garden
The Cruden Farm Garden Diaries by Michael Morrison & Lisa Clausen ($50, HB)
Cruden Farm was given to the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch in 1928 as a wedding present from her husband Sir Keith Murdoch. The farm at Langwarrin, about 50 kilometres south-east of Melbourne, was a place she cherished throughout her long life. The beautiful garden she created there with gardener Michael Morrison is one of Australia’s finest. In 1984 Michael began to keep garden diaries, a practice that endures to this day. He writes of the plants that have thrived & those they’ve lost, of terrible heat & freak storms, of escaped cows & memorable parties. In an age preoccupied with selfies & spotlight chasers, Michael Morrison’s diaries remind us of a different way of living—of more than 40 years spent quietly but passionately dedicated to one special garden & its unique owner.
Gardening Through the Year Australia
Good gardening depends on timing—when to plant & when to prune, when to feed & when to water, when to build & when to maintain. With more than 1000 full-colour photographs of star plants for each month, step-by-step photographic sequences of garden projects & illustrated tasks, this book is the garden reference book that not only tells you what to do when, but also shows you how to do it. Whether you are a green-fingered guru or are just starting out, enjoy 12 months of satisfying and successful gardening. ($35, PB)
All Birds Have Anxiety by Kathy Hoopmann
In the style of the best-selling All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome and All Dogs Have ADHD, wonderful colour photographs express the complex and difficult ideas related to anxiety disorder in an easy-to-understand way. ($20, HB)
Fress by Emma Spitzer ($40, HB)
Emma Spitzer brings together a melting pot of Middle-Eastern and Eastern European flavours with this contemporary Jewish cookbook. From Slow-cooked Moroccan Chutney to Duck with Black Za’atar & Puy Lentils, Baharat Spiced Chicken to Apricot & Orange Blossom Frangipane, these recipes are packed with punchy flavours and delicious spices. Family recipes are included too, from Grandpa ‘Bugga’s’ Turkey Schnitzel and Aunty Rochele’s Cabbage Salad to Mummy’s Golden Chicken Soup. Big on flavour and spice, this is happy, sociable food to feed the soul.
Coastline: The food of Mediterranean Spain, France & Italy by Lucio Galletto & David Dale
The perfect pesto. The best bouillabaisse. The purest paella. A river of gold flows through western Italy, southern France & eastern Spain. It’s the olive oil that links three great cuisines, along with a love of garlic, anchovies, peppers, fresh herbs & seasonal vegetables. In stories & recipes, and beautiful location photography, Coastline explores the legacy of the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs & the Vikings, who left the gift of a ‘cuisine of the sun’ flavoured with generosity & conviviality. ($60, HB)
Cook with Love: The Pete Evans Collection
This book brings together 150 of Pete Evans’s favourite recipes from a lifelong love affair with food. This beautifully designed volume features chapters devoted to breakfast, lazy lunches, family feasts, the barbecue, seafood and more. Like all Pete’s dishes, the recipes are simple, unfussy and utterly delicious with plenty of tips for novice and experienced cooks alike. ($40, PB)
Mindful Art of Wild Swimming by Tessa Wardley
This book explores how swimming in rivers, lakes & seas is the very epitome of conscious living. Zen-seeker Tessa Wardley reconnects the physical and spiritual cycles of life to the changing seasons and flow of wild waters worldwide and leads the reader on to a mindful journey through the natural world. With expert insight and personal anecdote, she shares a sparkling clarity on why our relationship with open water is so fundamental to pure wellbeing, and reveals how wild swimming can be the ultimate Zen meditation. ($20, HB)
Junk Food Japan by Scott Hallsworth ($53, HB) Packing a heavy punch and offering a fresh new look at Japanese food, Junk Food Japan showcases Kurobuta’s ‘insanely delicious delicacies’ (Jay Rayner, Observer). It is food that is both incredibly inventive yet comfortingly familiar. Signature dishes featured in this exciting new cookbook include Barbecued Pork Belly in Steamed Buns, Tea Smoked Lamb and Kombu Roasted Chilean Sea Bass. It is food full of flavour and guaranteed to wow friends, family and hungry gatecrashers. Now in paperback Kitchen Garden Companion—Cooking by Stephanie Alexander, $50
Take Heart: A Story for Modern Stepfamilies by Chloe Shorten ($33, PB)
These days, families come in all shapes and sizes. They move from one state to create a family in another. They combine into new homes, take holidays with blends of children and parents from different households. They invent routines and rituals to establish their own rhythms. And don’t forget the double sets of school uniforms and pyjamas under different roofs. Welcome to the new normal of family life for many Australians. It is a path Chloe Shorten has walked, and she was surprised at the lack of helpful information & unexpected tripwires for those not fitting the traditional cookie-cutter model. She was also heartened by the sensible advice she unearthed, the resilience of her children & the joy of watching her husband become a father three times over. Here, she tells of her own quest to create a new normal. Honest, sincere & warm hearted, this is a story of the modern household, exploring the idea of who qualifies as ‘a family’ in the 21st century.
Gleebooks’ special price $30
Nourishing Fats by Sally Fallon Morell ($40, PB) In this book Sally Fallon Morell (author of Nourishing Traditions) expands upon the growing scientific consensus that a diet rich in good fats is the key to optimum health, and the basis of a sustainable, long-term diet. Morell shows readers why animal fats are vital for fighting infertility, depression, and chronic disease, and offers easy solutions for adding these essential fats back into readers’ diets. Get excited about adding egg yolks and butter back into your breakfast, because fat is here to stay! Being 14 by Madonna King ($33, PB)
Madonna King has interviewed 200 14 year-old girls across the country, talked to successful school principals, psychologists, CEOs, police, guidance & neuroscientists to reveal the social, psychological & physical challenges every 14 year-old girl is facing today. How much independence do they need? What is the power of a friendship group? How do you help build selfconfidence? Why the obsession with selfies, social media and FOMO? How are parents unknowingly making life so much harder for them? This is your daughter, talking to you. And her hope, beyond anything, is that you will listen.
W(h)ine: 50 Perfect Wines to Pair with Your Child’s Crappy Behavior by Jennifer Todryk
Did your daughter just get out of bed for the 12th time to ask for another glass of water? We’ve got a wine for that. Did your son just have a public meltdown in the middle of the grocery store? We’ve got a Pinot for your pain. Got Rotavirus? Try a Riesling. 50 perfect pairings to match your child’s crappy behaviour. Each wine featured comes with a small sticker— every time you sample a wine to match your bad day, add it to the Periodic Table of Intoxication at the back of the book & you’ll be able to see if your child has behaviour problems, attitude problems, or just plain bad DNA. ($20, HB)
Work Strife Balance by Mia Freedman ($35, PB)
Eating disorders. Grief. Divorce. Losing a job. Losing a loved one. Losing your mind. Infertility. None of these things have rituals. In an age of social media brag-fests they mostly exist underground. But the way women connect is by sharing failures, disappointments & insecurities. Quietly. Privately. Over wine. Over text. Over fences. Female connections are forged through vulnerability not Facebook brags. Work Strife Balance is split into my most valuable failures, my most significant setbacks & my most mortifying slip-ups in life, love & work. ‘Whenever women are honest about their struggles, they give other women a gift. Mia delivers’. Elizabeth Gilbert
New in Reaktion’s Botanical Series ($33) Cactus by Dan Torre Tulip by Celia Fisher The 7:2:1 Plan by Tim Robards ($35, PB)
This is chiropractor & fitness advocate Tim Robards’ method of combining fitness & flexibility with eating 70% super clean, 20% sensible & 10% relaxed for a nutritionally-balanced lifestyle. Robards does not believe in counting calories, but goes back to nutrition basics to help you form simple & sustainable eating practices based on your own individual needs. The book contains a tailored step-by-step exercise guide to help you be your fittest & most flexible self, plus 100 easy recipes.
s Eve nt ar d n e Cal
Launch—3.30 for 4
Kazantzakis: Sixty Years On
Launch—3.30 for 4
GREEK FESTIVAL 2017 Kate & Jol Temple presented by Howard Dossor with John Foye Howard Dossor’s existentialist apCaptain Jimmy Cook Discovers proach to the work of Nikos KaX Marks the Spot zantzakis will be introduced by Dr Captain Jimmy Cook is back! This Vassilis Adrahtas’. In the same existime he’s made a Top Secret tentialist vein, Dr Zdenko Zlatar will Important Discovery. conclude the event with his talk on A real dinosaur footprint!. Kazantzakis and El Greco: The Poetics of Exile.
Launch—3.30 for 4 Joan Boler
Aft in conv. with Sar Australia’s braves est writer explore aftermath of her decision to end
Bates Gill & Li
China M This is a concise o today, and the imp tralia. It examin unique dynamism delving into every ness ties to the gro the Chinese go Australia. Esse
29 Launch—3.30 for 4
Melissa Bruce Picnic at Mount Disappointment Launcher: Gabrielle Carey Fifteen–year–old Lucy arrives from inner city Melbourne to live on a Victorian farm in the early 1980s. Wandong hosts the second largest truck and country music festival in the southern hemisphere…and nothing else. ‘An ode to the tumult of coming of age’.—Gabrielle Carey
The Truth Seeker This book delves with fascinating detail into psychic ability, the power of the mind and out-of-body and neardeath experiences. It explores reincarnation, life between one life and the next, and the existence of nonphysical life forms.
Remember! Join the Gleeclub and get free entry to events held at our shops, 10%credit accrued with every purchase, and the Gleaner delivered to your door every month.
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Events are held upstairs at #49 Glebe Point Road unless otherwise noted. Bookings—Phone: (02) 9660 2333, Email: email@example.com, Online: www.gleebooks.com.au/events
—6 for 6.30 Gemmell
Launch—6 for 6.30
A Writing Life: Helen Garner and her work ter Launcher: Maggie Mackellar rah Macdonald Bernadette Brennan’s A Writing Life st and most hones the devastating is the first full-length study of Helenelderly mother’s Garner’s forty years of work, a literary portrait that maps all of her d her own life. books against the different stages of her life.
—6 for 6.30 inda Jakobson
Matters overview of China plications for Ausnes the country’s & contradictions, ything from busiowing influence of overnment in ential reading.
12 Launch—6 for 6.30 David Stephens & Alison Broinowski
THURSDAY Event—6 for 6.30
Where Hummingbirds Dance in conv. with Janet Fennell Susi Prescott had it all. A large, busy family, a school teaching job she loved, a home on Sydney’s leafy North Shore. But with the sudden demise of her 30 year marriage, her world crumbles—so she packs up her former life and moves to the city of Arequipa in Peru
Launch—6 for 6.30 Cristina Rocha
John of God Launcher: This is the first ethnographic account of the global spiritual movement headed the Brazilian faith healer John of God, who has become an international faith healing superstar in the past decade.
27 Double Launch
Honest History Book Launcher Ass. Prof. Michelle Arrow This collection explores not only the militarisation of our history but the alternative narratives swamped under the khaki-wash—Indigenous history, frontier conflict, multiculturalism, the myth of egalitarianism, economics & the environment.
Event—6 for 6.30
Ailsa Piper & Tony Doherty
Event—6 for 6.30 The Attachment Catherine McKinnon A celebration of friendship, renewal, Storyland nature and the human spirit told This is an ambitious, remarkable through letters between a writer, Ailand moving novel about who we are: sa Piper & 80 year-old priest, Tony our past, present and future, and Doherty. An intriguing, entertaining our connection to this land. and moving celebration of family, faith, connection—even the correct time of day to enjoy rhubarb.
26 Event—6 for 6.30 Allan Gyngell
Fear of Abandonment: Australia in the World Since 1942 Allan Gyngell tells the story of how Australia has shaped the world & been shaped by it since it established an independent foreign policy during the dangerous days of 1942— fear of abandonment by our allies being the important driver.
t! iss ou ail! m t ’ Don eem for gl weekly p u ’s Sign Allen date. h t e b Eliza l events up om.au emai eebooks.c @gl asims
Global Cities & Real Estate 6 for 6.30
The Geopolitics of Real Estate: Re-configuring Property, Capital and Rights
Global Cities and Urban Theory Emcee: Prof. Robyn Dowling
In Early May Event: Wed 3rd— Michael Duffy & Nick Hordern Sydney Noir: The Golden Years In conv. with Bret Walker SC Event: Thur 4th— Catherine Fox Stop Fixing Women Event: Wed 10th— Susan Carland Fighting Hislam
Sydney Writers’ Festival 2017 May 22–28
Granny’s Good Reads with Sonia Lee
I’ve just discovered Tana French’s ‘Dublin Murder Squad’ series, which began in 2007 with the highly acclaimed In The Woods ($20). The series can be read out of sequence and I began with The Secret Place ($20)—a boarding school mystery whose narrator, Stephen Moran, is marking time in Cold Cases when teenager Holly Mackey brings him a card with the legend I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM and a photo of young Chris Harper. Chris, a boarder at St Colm’s school, has in the previous year been found dead in the grounds of St Kilda’s, a posh all-girls school, with his head bashed in, four hyacinths strewn on his corpse and a condom in his pocket. Holly, known to Moran from a previous case, has found the card pinned up in the Secret Place, a notice board for anonymous postings at St Kilda’s, where she is one of the boarders. Moran teams up with abrasive colleague Antoinette Conway to solve this still cold case and the two go back to St Kilda’s to investigate further. Moran proves adept at coaxing information from the girls and by the end of the day has eight suspects, four close-knit friends in Holly’s dorm and four girls in a rival clique headed by Joanne Heffernan, a terrifyingly precocious queen bee with a penchant for casually humiliating opponents and supporters alike. The action takes place over just one day, with flashbacks to the year before Chris died. It’s part police-procedural and part psychological thriller; the characterisation is superb and the teenspeak pitch-perfect. (Faithful Place ($20), number three in the series, has the backstory of Holly Mackey and her dad Frank, the head of Undercover.)
Moran and Conway team up again in French’s latest, The Trespasser ($23, b format due 6.17). This time Conway is narrator, so that a different lens is run over the pair’s relationship. Conway, who is mixed-race and never knew her Brazilian father, has an elephant-sized chip on her shoulder, so is very unpopular with her colleagues, who do their darndest to set her up for failure. She and Moran are perfect together, with easy-going Moran often stopping Conway from blowing a fuse. They now have to investigate the death of Aislinn Murray, a young receptionist found with a battered head, dinner in the oven and a table set for two—and it’s made clear to our sleuths that a quick solve would be welcome, since it’s obvious that bookshop proprietor Rory Fallon must have done it in a lovers’ tiff gone wrong. When O’Kelly, the Squad’s gaffer, gets their know-all colleague Breslin to supervise the investigation, they come under extreme pressure to put Rory in the frame. Breslin, who has ‘winner’s dazzle, the gold glow that shouts to everyone within range that this dude is something special: smarter, faster, savvier, smoother’, is clearly someone you want to hate, if not at first sight, then certainly when Conway and Moran come to suspect that he’s bent. The Trespasser had me on the edge of my seat and guessing all the way through. Tana French studied drama at Trinity College, Dublin, then worked in theatre for ten years and it shows in her writing. All her cast are superb troupers. Conway and Moran, for instance, are brilliant role-players, taking subliminal cues from each other, skilfully alternating their good-cop/bad-cop routine and always asking the vital ‘innocent’ question at just the right moment. In the Woods begins in the summer of 1984 when three twelve-year-olds go into the woods near Knocknaree; two are never seen again, the third appears in a catatonic state with blood in his sneakers and no memory of what happened. Twenty years later a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered at the same spot. Rob Ryan, the survivor of the first incident, is now a police Detective, and he finds himself in charge of the case. He knows he should recuse himself from the investigation but keeps his past a secret from everyone but Detective Cassie Maddox, his partner in Operation Vestal. Instead he has a slow psychological meltdown as shards of memory come to the surface. The murder plot is absolutely riveting but it is the relationship between the two detectives which held my interest until the shocking ending.
Sadly there will not be another Cliff Hardy story because his creator Peter Corris has eye problems, so we have to say goodbye to our favourite gumshoe in Win, Lose or Draw. Gerard Fonteyn is a rich guy whose daughter Juliana has gone missing and Cliff takes up the job of finding her. The trail takes him to Norfolk Island and the Gold Coast, where he runs into numerous unsavoury characters such as shady brothel owners and crooked cops. Any Cliff Hardy story slips down as smoothly as Cliff’s favourite malt and we’ll miss him from Sydney’s mean streets. Goodnight Cliff Hardy, good luck and thanks for the memories. Sonia
Smile, Particularly in Bad Weather by Prudence Black
Prudence Black tells a story about the development of the airhostess in Australia. She describes the shift from the 1930s, when the girl-next-door took to the air with a great degree of bravado, through to the 1960s & the ‘coffee, tea or me?’ stereotype where airlines sexualised the air hostess as a point of marketing difference, then on to a crucial period where the air hostess fought back, no longer wanting to be stereotyped nor discriminated 14 against in terms of fair working conditions. ($30, PB)
Fear of Abandonment: Australia in the world since 1942 by Allan Gyngell ($35, PB)
Spanning events as diverse as the Malayan Emergency, the White Australia Policy, the Vietnam War, Whitlam in China, apartheid in South Africa, East Timorese independence and the current South China Sea dispute, this vivid narrative history reveals how Australia has evolved as a nation on the world stage. Allan Gyngell argues that the fear of being abandoned—originally by Britain, and later by our most powerful ally, the United States—has been an important driver of how Australia acts in the world.
The Unseen Anzac by Jeff Maynard ($30, PB) Cameras were banned at the Western Front when the Anzacs arrived in 1916, prompting correspondent Charles Bean to argue continually for Australia to have a dedicated photographer. He was eventually assigned an enigmatic polar explorer—George Hubert Wilkins. Wilkins did what no photographer had previously dared to do. He went ‘over the top’ with the troops & ran forward to photograph the actual fighting. He led soldiers into battle, captured German prisoners, was wounded repeatedly, and was twice awarded the Military Cross—all while he refused to carry a gun and armed himself only with a bulky glassplate camera. Throughout his life, Wilkins wrote detailed diaries & letters, but when he died in 1958 these documents were locked away. Jeff Maynard follows a trail of myth & misinformation to locate Wilkins’ lost records and to reveal the remarkable, true story of Australia’s greatest war photographer. The Honest History Book (eds) David Stephens & Alison Broinowski ($35, PB)
The passionate historians of the Honest History group argue that while war has been important to Australia—mostly for its impact on our citizens & our ideas of nationhood—we must question the stories we tell ourselves about our history. We must separate myth from reality—and to do that we need to reassess the historical evidence surrounding military myths. Writers including Paul Daley, Mark McKenna, Peter Stanley, Carolyn Holbrook, Mark Dapin, Carmen Lawrence, Stuart Macintyre, Frank Bongiorno & Larissa Behrendt explore not only the militarisation of our history but the alternative narratives swamped under the khaki-wash—Indigenous history, frontier conflict, multiculturalism, the myth of egalitarianism, economics & the environment.
The Shadow Men: The Leaders Who Shaped the Australian Army From the Veldt to Vietnam (eds) Craig Stockings & John Connor ($35, PB)
Australian military history is full of big names that loom large in the public memory of the nation’s wartime experiences, like Monash, Chauvel, Jacka and Blamey. But their story is not the only story. There are also the individuals who shaped the history of the Australian Army in the 20th century, as intellectuals, strategists & administrators, but are largely invisible in popular memory. The Shadow Men brings together some of Australia’s best military historians to shed light on 10 of these men and to bring their achievements& influence into the foreground.
The Long Road: Australia’s Train, Advise & Assist Missions (ed) Tom Frame ($40, PB) Helping neighbours & partners stabilise their political systems & work towards peace & security is a core activity for the modern Australian Defence Force. This book analyses the successes & failures of ADF’s ‘train, advise, assist’ missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, the Solomon Islands, South Vietnam & Uganda. The diverse array of contributors including media commentators Chris Masters & Ian McPhedran, politicians Kevin Andrews & David Feeney, academics, aid workers & military personnel.
Code Breakers by Craig Collie ($33, PB)
At the height of WWII in the Pacific, two secret organisations existed in Australia to break Japan’s military codes. They were peopled by brilliant & idiosyncratic cryptographers, including some with achievements in mathematics & the Classics & others who had lived or grown up in Japan. These men patiently & carefully unravelled the codes in Japanese signals, ultimately playing a crucial role in the battles of Midway & the Coral Sea, as well as Macarthur’s push into the Philippines. More than a story of codes, this is an extraordinary exploration of a unique group of men & their intense personal rivalries & loathing, of white-anting & taking credit for others’ achievements. It is also the story of a fierce inter-national & inter-service political battle between a group of cryptographers based at the Monterey apartment block in Melbourne’s Albert Park and General MacArthur’s counter group that eventually established its headquarters in suburban Brisbane. What happened between these two groups would have consequences for intelligence services in the years to follow.
Also New Badge, Boot, Button: The Story of Australian Uniforms by Craig Wilcox, $45
Jewish Anzacs: Jews in the Australian Military Mark Dapin ($40, HB)
Over 7000 Jews have fought in Australia’s military conflicts, including more than 330 who gave their lives. While Sir John Monash is the best known, in Jewish Anzacs Mark Dapin reveals the personal, often extraordinary, stories of many other Jewish servicemen and women: from air aces to POWs, from nurses to generals, from generation to generation. Weaving together official records & interviews, private letters, diaries & papers, Dapin explores the diverse lives of his subjects & reflects on their valour, patriotism, mateship, faith & sacrifice.
Alice’s Daughter: Lost Mission Child by Rhonda Collard-Spratt ($34.95, PB)
In 1954, aged 3, Rhonda Collard-Spratt was taken from her Aboriginal family & placed on Carnarvon Native Mission, WA. Growing up in the white world of chores & aprons, religious teachings & cruel beatings, she drew strength & healing from her mission brothers &sisters, her art, music & poetry, and her unbreakable bond with the Dreaming. This is the story of her search for culture & family as she faced violence, racism, foster families & her father’s death in custody—one of the first deaths investigated as part of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The book includes her vibrant & powerful paintings & poetry.
Something About Emus: Indigenous Knowledge of Emus From Western Arnhem Land (ed) Murray Garde ($39.95, PB)
The emu is an iconic Australian bird, especially so to Indigenous Australians who have had a special relationship with this curious animal for thousands of years. This bilingual, full-colour book reveals valuable ecological knowledge in a collection of essays by senior members of the Bininj Gunwok language group from Kakadu National Park & Western Arnhem Land. It goes beyond biology & ecology to encompass other culturally important domains such as the visual & verbal arts, music, ritual & the relationships between humans & animals. Whilst Indigenous ecological knowledge is increasingly acknowledged as a valuable part of Australia’s cultural heritage, such knowledge is most richly expressed in Australia’s Indigenous languages which have largely remained inaccessible to those outside their communities.
Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System by Paul Collier & Alexander Betts ($50, HB)
Europe is facing its greatest refugee crisis since WW2, yet the institutions responding to it remain virtually unchanged from those created in the post-war era. Refugees need more than simply food, tents & blankets, and research demonstrates that they can offer tangible economic benefits to their adopted countries if given the right to work & education. Going beyond the scenes of desperation which have become all-too-familiar in the past few years, Alexander Betts & Paul Collier show that this crisis offers an opportunity for reform if international policy-makers focus on delivering humane, effective & sustainable outcomes—both for Europe & for countries that border conflict zones.
Everything Under The Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power by Howard W. French ($35, PB)
For many years after its reform & opening in 1978, China maintained an attitude of false modesty about its ambitions. That role, reports Howard French, has been set aside. China has asserted its place among the global heavyweights, revealing its plans for pan-Asian dominance by building its navy, increasing territorial claims to areas like the South China Sea, and diplomatically bullying smaller players. Underlying this attitude is a strain of thinking that casts China’s present-day actions in decidedly historical terms, as the path to restoring the dynastic glory of the past. If we understand how that historical identity relates to current actions, in ways ideological, philosophical, and even legal, we can learn to forecast just what kind of global power China stands to become—and to interact wisely with a future peer. Steeped in deeply researched history as well as on-the-ground reporting, this is New York Times Asia correspondent Howard French at his revelatory best.
A Little History of Economics by Niall Kishtainy
What causes poverty? Are economic crises inevitable under capitalism? Is government intervention in an economy a helpful approach or a disastrous idea? The answers to such basic economic questions matter to everyone, yet the unfamiliar jargon & math of economics can seem daunting. This clear, accessible & even humorous book is ideal for young readers new to economics & for all readers who seek a better understanding of the full sweep of economic history & ideas. Economic historian Niall Kishtainy organizes short, chronological chapters that centre on big ideas & events. He recounts the contributions of key thinkers including Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, and others, while examining topics ranging from the invention of money and the rise of agrarianism to the Great Depression, entrepreneurship, environmental destruction, inequality, and behavioural economics. The result is a uniquely enjoyable volume that succeeds in illuminating the economic ideas & forces that shape our world. ($34, HB)
Amazons: The Real Warrior Women of the Ancient World by John Man ($35, PB)
Since the time of the ancient Greeks we have been fascinated by accounts of the Amazons, an elusive tribe of ruthless, hardfighting, horse-riding female warriors. Following decades of new research and a series of groundbreaking archeological discoveries, we now know these powerful warrior queens did indeed exist. Examining the evidence, John Man travels to the grasslands of Central Asia, from the edge of the ancient Greek world to the borderlands of China, to discover the truth about the warrior women mythologized as Amazons.
Empire of Things: How We Became a World of Consumers, from the 15th C to the 21st by Frank Trentmann ($30, PB)
What we consume has become the defining feature of our lives: our economies live or die by spending, we are treated more as consumers than workers, and even public services are presented to us as products in a supermarket. In this monumental study, Frank Trentmann unfolds the extraordinary history that has shaped our material world, from late Ming China, Renaissance Italy & the British empire to the present. In rich detail he explores how we have come to live with so much more, how this changed the course of history, and the global challenges we face as a result.
Isabella of Castile by Giles Tremlett ($55, HB)
In 1474, a 23 year old woman ascended the throne of Castile, the largest & strongest kingdom in Spain. Ahead of Isabella of Castile lay the considerable challenge not only of being a young, female ruler in an male-dominated world, but also of reforming a major European kingdom that was riddled with crime, corruption & violent political factionism. Her pivotal reign was long & transformative, uniting Spain & setting the stage for its golden era of global dominance. Giles Tremlett chronicles Isabella’s life as she led her country out of the murky middle ages & harnessed the newest ideas and tools of the early Renaissance to turn her ill-disciplined, quarrelsome nation into a sharper, modern state with a powerful, clear-minded, & ambitious monarch at its centre.
Just Cool It: The Climate Crisis & What We Can Do—A Post-Paris Agreement David Suzuki, & Ian Hanington ($28, PB)
Climate change is the most important crisis humanity has faced, but we still confront huge barriers to resolving it. So, what do we do, & is there hope for humanity? The problem itself is complex, and there’s no single solution. But by understanding the barriers to resolving global warming & by employing a wide range of solutions—from shifting to clean energy to planting trees to reforming agricultural practices—we can get the world back on track. David Suzuki at his most passionate and cogent takes a comprehensive look at the current state of climate science & knowledge & the many ways to resolve the climate crisis, imploring us to do what’s necessary to live in a better, cleaner future. When enough people demand action, change starts happening—this time, it could be monumental.
How the Hell Did This Happen? The US Election of 2016 by P.J. O’Rourke ($30, PB)
No comedian could have written the joke this election cycle has been. The punchline is too ridiculous (whoever the punchline is going to be). Celebrated political satirist, journalist & diehard Republican P.J. O’Rourke brings his critical eye & inimitable voice to some serious risky business. He covers the whole election process from the pig pile of presidential candidates circa June 2015, the dreadful key primaries & candidate debates through his come-to-Satan moment with Hillary—‘She’s the second worst thing that could happen to our nation. I endorse her.’—to the Beginning of End Times in November.
Utopia for Realists: An Idea Whose Time by Rutger Bregman ($22, PB)
‘If you’re looking for the blueprint for a better tomorrow, you’ll find it in Rutger Bregman’s Utopia for Realists. Its premise is simple: we should adopt a universal basic income plan for all citizens, work less, and open up our borders. Crazy, right?’ We live in a time of unprecedented upheaval, when technology and so-called progress have made us richer but more uncertain than ever before. We have questions about the future, society, work, happiness, family & money, and yet no political party of the right or left is providing us with answers. So, too, does the time seem to be coming to an end when we looked to economists to help us define the qualities necessary to create a successful society. We need a new movement. One defined by a political outsider, the voice of their generation, one who doesn’t harness rage or agitate grievances but who provides us with the answer’s for which we’ve been looking. That person is Rutger Bregman and his vision is Utopia for Realists.
Science & Nature April To-Read List
Kathy Lette’s riotous yet heartrending novel tackles the taboo subject of sex for the ‘differently abled’.
Unmasked will reveal the woman behind the headlines, and in so doing, uncover the grace, humour and inner-steel that gets Turia Pitt through every day.
The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors by David George Haskell ($33, PB)
David Haskell repeatedly visits a dozen trees around the world, exploring the trees’ connections with webs of fungi, bacterial communities, cooperative & destructive animals & other plants. An Amazonian ceibo tree reveals the rich ecological turmoil of the tropical forest, along with threats from expanding oil fields. Thousands of miles away, the roots of a balsam fir in Canada survive in poor soil only with the help of fungal partners—in links that are nearly two billion years old. By unearthing charcoal left by Ice Age humans & petrified redwoods in the Rocky Mountains, Haskell shows how the Earth’s climate has emerged from exchanges among trees, soil communities & the atmosphere. Humans have transformed these networks, powering our societies with wood, tending some forests, but destroying others. Through his exploration, Haskell shows that this networked view of life enriches our understanding of biology, human nature & ethics.
The Greatest Story Ever Told ... So Far by Lawrence Krauss ($33, PB)
This is an introduction to greatest intellectual adventure in history— how humanity reached its current understanding of the universe. Krauss connects the world we know with the invisible world all around us, he explains our current understanding of nature and the struggle to construct the greatest theoretical edifice ever assembled, the Standard Model of Particle Physics—and then to understand its implications for our existence. On this tour of science & the brilliant personalities who shaped it, often against political & religious indoctrination, enduring persecution & ostracism, Krauss creates a captivating blend of research & narrative to invite us into the lives and minds of these figures.
The Secret Life of Flies by Erica McAlister
Following years of unrequited love, an out-of-work school teacher takes matters into his own hands, triggering a chain of events neither he nor his psychiatrist could have anticipated.
The everyday rhythms of Venetian life are at the core of this thrilling new instalment in the bestselling Commissario Brunetti series.
Entomologist with a knack for story-telling, Erica McAlister, gets under the wings of these crucial creatures as she ventures into the land of the fly. From hungry herbivores & precocious pollinators to robber flies, danceflies & the much maligned mosquito, she describes the different types of fly, their unique & often unusual characteristics, and the unpredictable nature of their daily life. She travels from the drawers of wonder at the Natural History Museum, London to the mountains of Peru, via underground caves, smelly latrines & the English country garden. She discovers flies without wings, eyes on stalks, rotating genitalia & the terrible hairy fly, while pausing along the way to consider today’s key issues of conservation, taxonomy, forensic entomology & climate change. ($29.95, PB)
The Ascent of Gravity by Marcus Chown ($33, PB)
Michael Morrison’s garden diaries reveal how Cruden Farm was developed and maintained, but it’s also the story of a wonderful friendship.
A deeply reported book on the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement, offering unparalleled insight into the reality of police violence in America.
Gravity is the weakest force in the everyday world yet it is the strongest force in the universe. It was the first force to be recognised and described yet it is the least understood. It is a ‘force’ that keeps your feet on the ground yet no such force actually exists. Penetrating this enigma promises to answer the biggest questions in science: what is space? What is time? What is the universe? And where did it all come from? Marcus Chown takes an unforgettable journey from the recognition of the ‘force’ of gravity in 1666 to the discovery of gravitational waves in 2015. And, as we stand on the brink of a seismic revolution in our world view, he brings us up to speed on the greatest challenge ever to confront physics.
Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs by Michael T. Osterholm & Mark Olshaker ($40, HB)
Every new development—from exploding human & animal populations to trade & travel—intensifies our susceptibility to a devastating epidemic. Ironically, a pandemic on the scale of the 1918 flu that killed perhaps a hundred million people would be deadlier today, despite a century of medical advances. As the current Zika epidemic proves, we are wholly unprepared for these diseases. So what can— and must—we do to protect ourselves against mankind’s Deadliest Enemy? In what is high scientific drama, a chronicle of mystery & discovery, a reality check & a plan of action, Osterholm & Olshaker detail the plans & resources that must be in place when the unthinkable becomes the inevitable.
Megatech: Technology in 2050 (ed) Daniel Franklin
A celebration of the forgotten heroes of war, the animals that have served alongside Australian forces.
The spellbinding, deeply moving story of a child prodigy and her soulmate.
Read more at penguin.com.au
What will the world of technology look like in 2050? And how will it affect the way we live? This book explores these big questions in a collection of thought-provoking insights which imagine how big developments in technology might shape the future. The book takes a journey to the future, contemplating of how far & where technology might take us. Top scientists, industry leaders, innovation academics, science-fiction writers & Economist journalists examine what the impact of technology might be in 2050 & consider the policies we might need, both to make the most of the opportunities ahead & to tackle the environmental, economic & social challenges in prospect. ($33, PB)
Now in B Format The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee, $25 Tide by Hugh Aldersey-Williams, $25 The Trainable Cat by John Bradshaw, $25
Philosophy & Religon
The Tempest-Tossed Church: Being a Catholic today by Gerard Windsor ($30, PB)
Interlaced with twelve moving cameos, Gerard Windsor entertains and stimulates with anecdote, history, forays into art and literature, and the occasional bit of gossip to explore what it means to be a Catholic today. Starting with how you get religion in the first place, Windsor moves on to the Gospels and the personality of Jesus Christ, and the possibility of any relationship with him. He then grapples with the existence & nature of God, and winds down with the grubby present realities—the factions within current Catholicism, scandal, sexual abuse, argument and bigotry.
A blazingly beautiful memoir of a mother's choice and a daughter's grief
The Enigma Of Reason: A New Theory of Human Understanding by Hugo Mercier & Dan Sperber
Reason, we are told, is what makes us human, the source of our knowledge & wisdom. If reason is so useful, why didn’t it also evolve in other animals? If reason is that reliable, why do we produce so much thoroughly reasoned nonsense? Hugo Mercier & Dan Sperber argue that reason is not geared to solitary use, to arriving at better beliefs & decisions on our own. What reason does, rather, is help us justify our beliefs & actions to others, convince them through argumentation, and evaluate the justifications & arguments that others address to us. In other words, reason has evolved to help humans better exploit their uniquely rich social environment. This illuminating interpretation of reason makes sense of strengths & weaknesses that have long puzzled philosophers & psychologists—why reason is biased in favour of what we already believe, why it may lead to terrible ideas & yet is indispensable to spreading good ones. Ambitious, provocative, and entertaining, this book will spark debate among psychologists & philosophers, and make many reasonable people rethink their own thinking. ($55, HB)
Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in a Globalized World by Miroslav Volf ($38, PB)
Theologian Miroslav Volf sheds light on how religions & globalization have historically interacted & argues for what their relationship ought to be. Recounting how these twinned forces have intersected in his own life, he shows how world religions, despite their malfunctions, remain one of our most potent sources of moral motivation & contain within them profoundly evocative accounts of human flourishing. Globalization should be judged by how well it serves us for living out our authentic humanity as envisioned within these traditions. Through renewal & reform, religions might, in turn, shape globalization so that it can be about more than bread alone.
Truth: Ideas in Profile by Simon Blackburn ($23, PB)
Truth has always been a thorny topic. How does it work? Who decides what it is? And why is it seen as so important? Simon Blackburn describes the main approaches to the notion of truth & considers how these relate to different perspectives on belief, interpretation, facts, knowledge & action. He then looks at how these ideas can be applied to: aesthetics, taste and the judgement of art; ethics & how people decide how they should (or should not) live; reason & rational truth & whether these may be found or learnt in conversation, agreement and disagreement; religious belief & the ultimate cause of the cosmos. Understanding what constitutes truth has practical value in every aspect of life—whether you are voting in an election or finding an excuse for being late.
A Cabinet of Philosophical Curiosities: A Collection of Puzzles, Oddities, Riddles & Dilemmas by Roy Sorensen ($23, PB)
If you want to learn how to conform to confound, raze hopes, succeed your successor, order absence in the absence of order, win by losing & think contrapositively, look no further. Here you can unlock the secrets of Plato’s void, Wittgenstein’s investigations, Schopenhauer’s intelligence test, Voltaire’s big bet, Russell’s slip of the pen and lobster logic. Among your discoveries will be why the egg came before the chicken, what the dishwasher missed and just what it was that made Descartes disappear. Experience the unbearable lightness of logical conclusions in Professor Sorensen’s intriguing cabinet of riddles, problems, paradoxes, puzzles and the anomalies of human utterance.
The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims by Mustafa Akyol ($40, HB)
Muslims and the first Christians—the Jewish followers of Jesus—saw Jesus as not divine but rather as a prophet and human Messiah, and that salvation comes from faith and good works, not merely from faith, as Christians would later emphasize. What Akyol seeks to reveal are how these core beliefs of Jewish Christianity, which got lost in history as a heresy, emerged in a new religion born in 7th Arabia: Islam. Akyol exposes this extraordinary historical connection between Judaism, Jewish Christianity and Islam. From Jesus’ Jewish followers to the Nazarenes and Ebionites to the Qu’ran’s stories of Mary and Jesus, The Islamic Jesus reveals links between religions that seem so contrary today. It also calls on Muslims to discover their own Jesus, at a time when they are troubled by their own Pharisees and Zealots.
An ambitious, remarkable and moving novel about who we are: our past, present and future, and our connection to this land
The Australian actress who became one of London's most famous suffragists
Psychology The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone by Sloman & Fernbach ($33, PB)
To function, individuals rely not only on knowledge that is stored within our skulls but also on knowledge stored elsewhere, be it in our bodies, in the environment or especially in other people. Put together, human thought is incredibly impressive, but at its deepest level it never belongs to any individual alone. And yet the mind supports the most sublime, incredible phenomenon of all: consciousness. How can any of this be possible with a mind that is so imperfect? This is one of the key challenges confronted in this book. The Knowledge Illusion ties together established scientific facts whilst also considering what the mind is for. Understanding why the mind is as it is, and what it is for, shows why we need to consider it as extending beyond our skulls; why we should think about ‘the mind’ as far more than an extension of the brain but as an emergence from multiple brains interacting. Simply put, individuals know relatively little, but the human hive that emerges when people work together knows a lot.’
Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character by Kay Redfield Jamison ($54, HB)
In his Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry, Robert Lowell put his manic-depressive illness (now known as bipolar disorder) into the public domain, creating a language for madness that was new & arresting. Psychologist, and author of An Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jamison illuminates not only the relationships between mania, depression & creativity but also the details of Lowell’s treatment & how illness & treatment influenced the great work that he produced (and often became its subject). With unprecedented access to Lowell’s medical records, as well as to previously unpublished drafts & fragments of poems (she is also the first biographer to have spoken with his daughter, Harriet Lowell) Jamison delivers a bold, sympathetic account of a poet who was—both despite & because of mental illness--a passionate, original observer of the human condition.
Now in B Format Against the Double Blackmail: Refugees, Terror and Other Troubles with the Neighbours by Slavoj Zizek, $20 The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind by A. C. Grayling, $20
Moss & Fitzgerald
Margaret Drabble (one of my favourite authors of all time) said The Tidal Zone ($28) was one of her favourite novels of 2016, and as I hadn’t even heard of the author, Sarah Moss, I thought I would give it a go. Set now, in the English Midlands, the novel is narrated by Adam, a stay at home father of two daughters, and husband to a busy doctor. Very early in the piece, his eldest daughter Miriam is found unconscious on her school playing field, after an apparent cardiac arrest. What follows is a perfect rendition of a family thrown into a chaos of anxiety, while still getting on with the minutiae of daily life. Adam somehow manages to keep his family going—doing the laundry, cooking nutritious meals, organising his younger daughter and generally running the household while being plagued with anxiety bordering on fear, much like women everywhere. The frustration and sense of endless waiting that one experiences in the modern hospital system, is also very neatly described, as is the familiar sense of being patronised by hospital staff—Adam is frequently being called ‘Dad’ by all and sundry. The narrative threads underlying the story give it a surprising beauty and resonance; Adam’s mother died unexpectedly when he was young, while ocean swimming, and his American father was left to bring him up. His father had rejected his own upbringing and had drifted across America, living on hippy communes—a way of life that seems to foreign now, and yet it wasn’t so long ago. Adam himself is man of hidden parts. He is a part time academic, an expert on the Arts and Crafts movement, and he is trying to write a thesis on the post war rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral—and this is a fascinating motif that runs through the book. I must also mention the cover of the book—the inside is illustrated with the extraordinary angels (designed by John Piper) in the stained glass windows of Coventry Cathedral, which Sarah Moss describes so vividly, and the front cover has a luminous portrait painting by English artist Michael Gaskell, the hyper reality of which is both unnerving and yet somehow reassuring.
Cultural Studies & Criticism
Hermione Lee’s biography of Penelope Fitzgerald is an engrossing account of the English author whose books include the Booker Prize winner, Offshore (1978) and the brilliant The Blue Flower, a fictional account of the German Romanticist Novalis. Lee’s biography is long, detailed and dense, and succeeds in making the reader want to go back and read all Penelope Fitzgerald’s books. Her early life was much informed by her relatives, her father and uncles were the Knox brothers, four brilliant men who excelled in their given fields, her grandfathers were high up in the English clergy, and her aunt was the author, Winifred Peck. Fitzgerald was both prickly and critical of others, but could be very warm and engaging, and above all else, very brave. Her world fell into chaos through her husband’s misbehaviour, and it is fascinating to read how she managed to drag her family through disaster, and to eventually prevail. She wrote her first book much later in life, and eventually become a much lauded author. The book is engrossing in its detail, full of black and white photographs, and the author’s own drawings, it’s a very fitting tribute to its subject. Louise
Notes from the Sick Room by Steve Finbow
This book is set in an imaginary hospital populated by artists, musicians & writers who have suffered from various physical illnesses—cancer, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS & physical trauma. Their lives & works are discussed in an attempt to diagnose how their complaints influenced their work or how their creativity affected their symptoms. Virginia Woolf, Kathy Acker, Frida Kahlo, Katherine Mansfield, Bob Dylan, Bruce Chatwin & many struggle to produce works of art, literature & music while in denial, acceptance or flight and through periods of serious illness & convalescence. Moving through the hospital, specialists keep us informed of the history of creativity and illness as Steve Finbow divulges his own medical history. ($20, PB)
The Pen and the Brush by Anka Muhlstein
Anka Muhlstein revisits the delights of the French novel focussig on late 19th & 20th century writers—Balzac, Zola, Proust, Huysmans & Maupassant—through the lens of their passionate involvement with the fine arts. She delves into the crucial role that painters play as characters in their novels, which she pairs with an exploration of the profound influence that painting exercised on the novelists’ techniques, offering an intimate view of the intertwined worlds of painters & writers at the time. Her deftly chosen vignettes bring to life a portrait of the 19th century’s tight-knit artistic community, where Cézanne & Zola befriended each other as boys & Balzac yearned for the approval of Delacroix. She leads the reader on a journey of spontaneous discovery as she explores how a great painting can open a mind & spark creative fire. ($34, HB)
A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work by Bernadette Brennan ($33, PB)
Helen Garner is one of Australia’s most important, and some would say, most admired living writers. That admiration is inspired by a sense that she is honest, authentic & fearless in the pursuit of her craft. But Garner also courts controversy, not least because she refuses to be constrained by the rules of literary form. She appears to write so much of herself into her non-fiction, and many of her own experiences inform her fiction. But who is the ‘I’ in Helen Garner’s work? Dr Bernadette Brennan has had access to previously unavailable papers in Garner’s archive, and she provides a lively & rigorous reading of the books, journals & correspondence of one of Australia’s most beloved women of letters. A Writing Life is the first full-length study of Garner’s work, a literary portrait that maps Garner’s writing against the different stages of her life.
Stop Fixing Women: Why Building Fairer Workplaces is Everybody’s Business by Catherine Fox ($30, PB)
Millions of words have been spent in our quest to explain men’s seemingly never-ending dominance in boardrooms, in parliaments, in the bureaucracy & in almost every workplace. Wage inequality between men & women seems one of the intractables of our age. Women are told they need to back themselves more, stop marginalising themselves, negotiate better, speak up, support each other, strike a balance between work & home. This searing book argues that insisting that women fix themselves won’t fix the system, the system built by men. Catherine Fox’s book is an important tool for male leaders who say they want to make a difference. She throws down the gauntlet, showing how business, defence, public service & community leaders might do more than just talk about the problem.
The Dog’s Last Walk (and Other Pieces) by Howard Jacobson ($25, PB)
Hilarious, heartbreaking, provocative & affecting—Howard Jacobson’s irresistible journalism reveals the Man Booker Prize-winning novelist in all his humanity. From the tiniest absurdities to the most universal joys & desolations, Jacobson writes with a thunder, passion & wit unmatched. Just as did his previous volume, Whatever It Is I Don’t Like It, this glorious, unputdownable collection will delight, entertain, challenge and move.
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson ($35, HB)
In his 2016 New York Times op-ed piece Death in Black and White, Michael Eric Dyson moved a nation. In this book he continues with a provocative and deeply personal call for change. Dyson argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted. ‘The time is at hand for reckoning with the past, recognizing the truth of the present, and moving together to redeem the nation for our future. If we don’t act now, if you don’t address race immediately, there very well may be no future.’.
The Age of Inequality: Corporate America’s War on Working People by Jeremy Gantz ($30, PB)
40 years ago, the richest 1% controlled 25% of America’s wealth. Today it’s 40%, and the richest one-tenth of 1% have as much wealth as the bottom 90%. Launched in Chicago in 1976, the muckraking, progressive magazine In These Times has been tracking this disastrous history through groundbreaking and heart-wrenching reportage, as well as incisive analysis. This book tells the story of a shockingly successful corporate crackdown, from Reaganomics to the precarious sharing economy, as well as intermittent movements to stem the tide, from the Seattle global justice protests to the Fight for 15. Featuring contributions from Barbara Ehrenreich, Tom Frank, Tom Geoghegan, Juan Gonzalez, Chris Hayes, Naomi Klein, Salim Muwakkil, Ralph Nader, Frances Fox Piven, Bernie Sanders, Slavoj Zizek, and many others, The Age of Inequality is a definitive account of one of the defining issues of our time.
The Last Resistance by Jacqueline Rose ($20, PB) Jacqueline Rose explores the power of writing to create & transform our political lives. In particular, she examines the role of literature in the Zionist imagination: here, literature is presented as a unique form of dissidence, with the power to expose the unconscious of nations, and often proposing radical alternatives to their dominant pathways & beliefs. While Israel-Palestine is the repeated focus, Rose also turns to post-apartheid South Africa, to American national fantasy post-9/11, and to key moments for the understanding of Jewish culture & memory. Rose also underscores the importance of psychoanalysis, both historically in relation to the unfolding of world events, and as a tool of political understanding. Examining topics ranging from David Grossman, through W.G. Sebald, Freud, Nadine Gordimer, the concept of evil, and suicide bombers, Rose offers a unique way of responding to the crises of the times. Now in B Format Everywhere I Look by Helen Garner, $24
Against Everything: Essays by Mark Greif ($52, HB)
Over the past eleven years, Mark Greif has been publishing essays in n+1, the high-profile little magazine that he co-founded. These essays address such key topics in the cultural, political & intellectual life of our time as the tyranny of exercise, the tyranny of nutrition & food snobbery, the sexualization of childhood (and everything else), the philosophical meaning of Radiohead, the rise & fall of the hipster, the impact of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the crisis of policing. Four of the selections address, directly and unironically, the meaning of life—what might be the right philosophical stance to adopt toward one’s self & the world.
Barthes: A Biography by Tiphaine Samoyault
This major new biography of Barthes, based on unpublished material never before explored (archives, journals and notebooks), sheds new light on his intellectual positions, his political commitments and his ideas, beliefs and desires. It details the many themes he discussed, the authors he defended, the myths he castigated, the polemics that made him famous and his acute ear for the languages of his day. Barthes’s life story gives substance and cohesion to his career, which was guided by desire, perspicacity and an extreme sensitivity to the material from which the world is shaped—as well as a powerful refusal to accept any authoritarian discourse. ($55.95, HB)
Language & Writing
The Gift of the Gab: How Eloquence Works by David Crystal ($28, PB)
We all know eloquence when we hear it. But what exactly is it? And how might we gain more of it for ourselves? This entertaining and, yes, eloquent book illuminates the power of language from a linguistic point of view and provides fascinating insights into the way we use words. David Crystal’s lively analysis encompasses everyday situations (wedding speeches, business presentations, storytelling) as well as the oratory of great public gatherings. In the core analysis of the book, Crystal offers an extended and close dissection of Barack Obama’s electrifying ‘Yes we can’ speech of 2008, in which the president demonstrated full mastery of virtually every element of eloquence—from the simple use of parallelism & an awareness of what not to say, to his brilliant conclusion constructed around two powerful words: dreams & answers.
Nabokov’s Favourite Word Is Mauve by Ben Blatt
This is a playful look at what the numbers have to say about our favourite authors and their classic books. Journalist and statistician Ben Blatt asks the questions that have intrigued curious book lovers for generations: Does each writer have their own stylistic footprint? Do men and women write differently? What are the crutch words our best-loved authors fall back on? Which writer is the most clichéd? Spanning from Shakespeare and Jane Austen to fan fiction, JK Rowling and Stephen King, Blatt reveals the quirks and oddities of the world’s greatest writers. This is a lighthearted, humorous book that uses numbers to inform our understanding of words to enlighten, to clarify, and, above all, to entertain. ($35, HB)
Scientific Babel: The language of science from the fall of Latin to the rise of English by Michael Gordin
Today, the language of science is English. But the dominance of this particular language is a relatively recent phenomenon—and far from a foregone conclusion. In a sweeping history that takes us from antiquity to the modern day, Michael Gordin untangles the web of politics, money, personality & international conflict that created the monoglot world of science we now inhabit. Beginning with the rise of Latin, Gordin reveals how we went on to use (and then lose) Dutch, Italian, Swedish & many other languages on the way, and sheds light on just how significant language is in the nationalistic realm of science—just one word mistranslated into German from Russian triggered an inflammatory face-off between the 2 countries for the credit of having discovered the periodic table. ($25, PB)
Released this month: Macquarie Concise Dictionary Seventh Edition Hardcover, $60; Paperback, $50 Horrible Words: A Guide to the Misuse of English by Rebecca Gowers ($23, PB)
Nothing inflames the language purists like an illogical ‘irregardless’ or a hideous ‘otherization’. But is it enough simply to dismiss these words as vile and barbarous howlers? Taking a genial tour far and wide through our linguistic badlands, Rebecca Gowers finds answers that are helpful, surprising and often extremely funny. ‘Exuberant, erudite, informative and fun ... a call on all English-speakers to trust their own feel for their language, to relish their verbal inventiveness and to do battle against the pedants who tell them they are wrong’ Michael Skapinker, Financial Times.
s d d w n n a o 2 H R
TRILOGY OF TERROR
London Tales of Terror (ed) Jacqueline Visick Scottish Tales of Terror (ed) ‘Angus Campbell’ (R. Chetwynd-Hayes) Welsh Tales of Terror (ed) R. Chetwynd-Hayes All $10 By the mid-1970s, photographic book jackets had largely replaced original illustrated art work on most mass market paperbacks. This often resulted in some truly awful book covers—I can still recall (with a grimace) the Macmillan paperback reissues of Thomas Hardy’s Collected Works adorned with posed subjects in period costumes. But time has now added a layer of nostalgic affection for the now Golden Age of wonderfully schlocky 1970s paperback covers. These three titles—all published in 1972 and 1973—are wonderful examples of this genre. But never judge a book by... All three books contain a wide assortment of memorable stories by classic and (perhaps) surprising authors: Brian Aldiss, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Algernon Blackwood, Eleanor Farjeon, Arthur Machen and Walter Scott. Here is a selection of my favourites:
LONDON TALES OF TERROR L. P. Hartley—Someone in the Lift: The Maldon family spend Christmas at the Brompton Court Hotel and their six-year-old son Peter is certain that he can see a man in the lift, a figure in shadows. The mysterious individual is always absent when Peter tries to show him to his parents. A figment of a youthful imagination? Elizabeth Bowen—The Demon Lover: In 1941, Mrs Drover returns to her boarded-up home in bomb-ravaged London to collect various family items and finds a letter from her ‘missing, presumed dead’ soldier fiancé reminding her of a promise she gave on the eve of his departure to France in 1916—some twenty-five years earlier. As the agreed hour arrives, her nerves overcome her. She flees into the street and hails a taxi …You will probably guess the ending but it is still registers as one of the most terrifying.
SCOTTISH TALES OF TERROR Angus Stewart—Brown God in The Beginning: Young Aljo McBain lives on a remote settlement on the Atlantic coast. He is entirely subjugated by the Brown God, a pitiless voice in his head that commands him to conduct bizarre acts of devotion such as obsessively sweeping the path to the light house or squashing hundreds of slugs under the wheels of his bicycle. As he grows older, Aljo’s displays of worship become more vicious and deadly. Robert Louis Stevenson—The Body-snatcher: The author of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde here pens a fictitious account of the Burke and Hare serial murders that took place in Edinburgh in the 1820s. Medical students Fettes and Macfarlane go into business as Resurrection Men—delivering dug-up corpses to the dissecting rooms of the medical institutions. One stormy night, at Glencorse, the exhumation of a farmer’s wife does not go as planned. Eileen Bigland—The Lass with The Delicate Air: In this gentle ghost story, a war veteran convalescing at Cawdor Village in the Highlands, falls in love with the mysterious, mournful vision of a beautiful young woman in a blue dress who appears in the forest every New Moon.
WELSH TALES OF TERROR Dorothy K. Haynes—Mrs. Jones: Mrs. Jones wins all the local cookery competitions with ease. One day a famished crone asks for one of her cakes. Mrs. Jones refuses her, saying ‘I don’t bake for the likes of you’. Unfortunately, the elderly woman turns out to be a sidh, one of the Fae, who spirits Mrs Jones away to the fairy kitchen at the Cove to bake for all eternity. R. Chetwynd-Hayes—Lord Dunwilliam And the Cwy Annwn: The arrogant Lord Dunwilliam, lost in a snowstorm, chances upon a solitary cottage where live Evan ap Evans and his beautiful daughter, Silah. Dunwilliam decides she will be his at any cost. Such is his lustful obsession that he refuses to heed warnings from both father and daughter that she has a fearsome lover, Annwn the Wild Huntsman and his pack of Hell-Hounds. Stephen Reid
1917 Stalemate & Revolution Part 2
Wilson by A. Scott Berg ($25, PB) The Price of Glory by Alistair Horne ($32, PB) The First World War by John Keegan ($31, PB) The War Poems by Siegfried Sassoon ($25, HB) Lenin by Robert Service ($29.99, PB) 1914–1918 by David Stevenson ($35, PB)
President Woodrow Wilson is unwell and distressed. He has called a joint session of Congress and will address them on 2 April 1917 to request a declaration of war against Germany. On the eve of doing so, he requests that New York World Editor, Frank Cobb, visit him at the White House. Cobb arrives late, close to 1.00am and later writes of his visit: I’d never seen him (Wilson) so worn down. He looked as if he hadn’t slept, and he said he hadn’t… For nights, he said, he’d been lying awake going over the whole situation—over the provocation given by Germany ... He said he couldn’t see any alternative. ‘I think I know what war means,’ he said, and he added that if there were any possibility of avoiding war he wanted to try it. ‘What else can I do?’ he asked. ‘Is there anything else I can do?’ In his speech to congress, Wilson cites Germany’s violation of its pledge to suspend unrestricted submarine warfare, as well as its attempts to entice Mexico into an alliance against the United States, as his reasons for declaring war. On 4 April 1917, the U.S. Senate votes in support of the measure to declare war on Germany. The House concurs two days later. On 9 April 1917, Bolshevik revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, boards a special sealed train organised by the German authorities. He outlines his tactics to his lieutenants: ‘Total mistrust… no support for the Provisional Government. Above all, mistrust Kerensky. No alliance with other parties.’ Allowing Lenin and his lieutenants to cross Germany en route from Switzerland to Sweden, then to Petrograd, Berlin hopes that the return of the anti-war revolutionaries will undermine the Russian war effort. Lenin arrives on 16 April, to a tumultuous welcome. His aims are clear: ‘The Revolution must not mean that the new class rules through the old state machinery, but that this class smashes that machinery, and rules, governs, through new machinery.’ For the next six months, Lenin and his Bolshevik followers will act as an anti-war focus in parallel with the new Provisional Government which— contrary to German hopes—is determined to continue Russia’s military participation. On the Western Front a new Allied offensive is imminent. Beginning 9 April 1917—amidst atrocious weather of heavy rain and sleet—British and Canadian troops simultaneously launch attacks at Arras and Vimy Ridge. New tactics are tried. The ‘Creeping Barrage’ is used—artillery fire moves steadily forward with the infantry following close behind to take advantage of the disruption of the bombardment. Some territorial gains are made on the first two days. Then more stalemate. At Vimy Ridge, all four Canadian Divisions on the Western Front participate. The Ridge is gained—with heavy loss. A striking Canadian Memorial—built in 1936 on 250 acres (1 sq. km) of trench-marked land granted by the people of France in perpetuity to the people of Canada—lists 11,500 names of the missing. Total Allied casualties for the Arras offensive, which ends five weeks later on 16 May, are 158,000 men. Some 67 military cemeteries mark the loss caused in this one battle alone. Captain Siegfried Sassoon—a participant—expresses his feelings in poetry: ‘Good-morning, good-morning!’ the General said When we met him last week on our way to the line. Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ‘em dead, And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine. ‘He’s a cheery old card,’ grunted Harry to Jack As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack. But he did for them both by his plan of attack. Two months later, Sassoon will write a letter to his commanding officer, entitled: Finished with the War: A Soldier’s Declaration. It is also forwarded to the press. Bertrand Russell—philosopher and pacifist—prevails upon a sympathetic Member of Parliament to read it out in the House of Commons: I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it. I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that the war upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them and that had this been done the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation. I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust. I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.
On behalf of those who are suffering now, I make this protest against the deception which is being practised upon them; also, I believe it may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share and which they have not enough imagination to realise. For this act of defiance, Sassoon is placed in a mental institution in Edinburgh. On 16 April, as the Arras offensive concludes, the French armies launch their own offensive front on the River Aisne. Twenty divisions attack on a 25 mile (40km) front. Planned by General Robert Nivelle—and named after him—the Nivelle Offensive is a complete disaster. A planned advance of 6 miles (9.5 km) is halted after 600 yards (550m). Expected casualties are predicted to be 10,000 men. There are almost 130,000. The offensive crumbles after a week. Nivelle has broken the French Army. Mutinies are hatching. They will explode in May and June 1917. Stephen Reid
Injury Time by Clive James ($35, HB)
Injury Time finds Clive James thinking about how best to live in his remaining days, and casting his mind forward to when he will be gone & how he might be remembered. A series of intimate poems reveals family as one of life’s true treasures. James captures tender childhood memories of his mother, has his spirits lifted by the wonderful vision of his granddaughter in graceful acrobatic movement, and addresses the haunting loss of his father in WW2. He writes of his early years in Australia, where he began and where he hopes to ‘reach the end’, and also reflects on the wisdom & consolation to be found in art, music and literature.
The Unaccompanied by Simon Armitage
Simon Armitage’s 11th volume of poetry documents a world on the brink, a world of unreliable seasons and unstable coordinates, where Odysseus stalks the aisles of cut-price supermarkets in search of direction, where the star of Bethlehem rises over industrial Yorkshire, and where alarm bells for ailing communities go unheeded or unheard. Looking for certainty the mind gravitates to recollections of upbringing and family, only to encounter more unrecoverable worlds, shaped as ever through Armitage’s gifts for clarity and detail as well as his characteristic dead-pan wit. ($33, HB)
The Complete Poems by Emily Dickinson
The startling originality of Emily Dickinson’s style condemned her poetry to obscurity during her lifetime, but her bold experiments in prosody, her tragic vision, and the range of her intellectual & emotional explorations have since won her international recognition as a poet of the highest order. In this single volume editor, Thomas H. Johnson, has presented the poems in their original contexts; and where alternate readings were suggested, he has chosen only those which the poet evidently preferred. His introduction includes a brief explanation of his selection of texts as well as an outline of Emily Dickinson’s career. ($35, PB)
No Art: Poems by Ben Lerner ($30, HB) This book brings together for the first time Ben Lerner’s 3 volumes of poetry, along with a handful of newer poems, to present a decade-long exploration of the relationship between form & meaning, between private experience & public expression. It is an exhilarating argument both with America & with poetry itself, in which online slang is juxtaposed with academic idiom, philosophy collides with advertising, and the language of medicine & the military is overlaid with echoes of Whitman & Keats. George Washington by Adam Fitzgerald
These frenetic poems channel the proper names and product placement in the suburban New Jersey memescape of the 1990s. Fitzgerald’s catalogues—a world of video games &love songs, entertainment franchises & widespread anomie—seek out the proxies by which millions now live their most intimate experiences, examining everything from sexuality & faith to the spectacles of shopping & mass shootings. ($36.95, HB)
P Was $45
A God In Ruins Kate Atkinson, HB
Madness & Memory: The Discovery of Prions—A New Biological Principle of Disease Stanley B. Prusiner, HB
The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The Definitive Chronicle of History’s 100 Worst Atrocities Matthew White, HB
Carmen: The Complete Opera, CD
La Boheme: The Complete Opera, CD
Chagall & the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater, HB
Kandinsky & the Harmony of Silence: Painting with White Border, HB
The Gap of Time: The Winter’s Tale Retold Jeanette Winterson, HB
Mortality Christopher Hitchens, HB
Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields Wendy Lower, HB
S Was $29.99
John Aubrey: My Own Life Ruth Scurr, HB
M Train Patti Smith, HB
Lives of the Novelists: A History of Fictin in 294 Lives John Sutherland, HB
Carried Away: Selected Stories Alice Munro, HB
The Handsome Man’s de Luxe Cafe, Alexander McCall Smith, HB
Do You Think You’re Clever? The Oxford and Cambridge Questions, PB
The Marriage of Figaro: The Complete Opera, CD
Man Ray Portraits, HB
La Traviata: The Complete Opera, CD
Flora: The Art of Plant Exploration Sandra Knapp, HB
Michelangelo & Sebastiano ($71, HB)
Through most of Michelangelo’s working life, one of his closest colleagues was the great Venetian painter Sebastiano del Piombo (1485—1541). The two men met in Rome in 1511, shortly after Sebastiano’s arrival from his native city, and while Michelangelo was based in Florence from 1516 to 1534 Sebastiano remained one of his Roman confidants, painting several works after partial designs by him. The lavishly illustrated text examines their shared preoccupation with the depiction of death and resurrection, primarily in the life of Christ, through a close analysis of drawings, paintings & sculpture. The book also brings the austerely beautiful work of Sebastiano to a new audience, offering a reappraisal of this less famous but most accomplished artist.
Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists by Donna Seaman ($43, HB)
Who hasn’t wondered where—aside from Georgia O’Keeffe and Frida Kahlo—all the women artists are? Donna Seaman brings to dazzling life 7 of these forgotten artists, among the best of their day: Gertrude Abercrombie, with her dark, surreal paintings & friendships with Dizzy Gillespie & Sonny Rollins; Bay Area self-portraitist Joan Brown; Ree Morton, with her witty, oddly beautiful constructions; Lois Mailou Jones of the Harlem Renaissance; Lenore Tawney, who combined weaving & sculpture when art & craft were considered mutually exclusive; Christina Ramberg, whose unsettling works drew on pop culture & advertising; and Louise Nevelson, an art-world superstar in her heyday but omitted from most recent surveys of her era.
Chardin & Rembrandt by Marcel Proust
Written when he was only 24 years old, this newly translated essay not only reemphasizes the importance of visual art to Proust’s development, but contains the seeds of his later work. Much more than a straightforward piece of art criticism, it is a literary experiment in which an unnamed narrator gives advice to a young man suffering from melancholy, taking him on an imaginary tour through the Louvre where his readings of Chardin imbue the everyday world with new meaning, and his ruminations on Rembrandt take his melancholic pupil beyond the realm of mere objects. ($20, PB)
Diaries: 1955–1970 by Eva Hesse ($81, PB) Pioneering American artist Eva Hesse Eva Hesse (19361970) is known for her sculptures that made innovative use of industrial and everyday materials. Her diaries and journals, which she kept for the entirety of her life, convey her anxieties, her feelings about family and friends, her quest to be an artist, and the complexities of living in the world. Her family fled Nazi Germany, her mother committed suicide when Hesse was 10 years old, her marriage ended in divorce, and she died at the age of 34 from a brain tumour. The diaries featured in this publication begin in 1955 & describe Hesse’s time at Yale University, followed by a sojourn in Germany with her husband, Tom Doyle, and her return to New York and a circle of friends that included Sol LeWitt, Mel Bochner & Lucy Lippard.
DVDs With Scott Donovan Ivan’s Childhood: Dir. Andrei Tarkovsky
A determined 12 year old boy named Ivan joins a Russian partisan regimen. He has an uncanny ability to slip quickly through enemy lines undetected, but as his missions become increasingly dangerous he is pulled from duty, something which he is quick to protest against because Ivan has an ulterior motive—to avenge the death of his family at the hands of the Nazis. Andrei Tarkovsky’s first feature film is regarded as one of the most accomplished cinematic debuts. (Region 2, $32.95)
Soundbreaking: Stories from the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music ($29.95)
From the Beatles to Beck, Elton to Adele, Hendrix to The Beastie Boys, Rolling Stones to Run DMC, this 8 part series tells the definitive story of how music was transformed by the art of recording—chronicling the extraordinary impact of studio recording on the modern world & the stories behind some of the best music ever made. With rare archival studio footage & unprecedented access to some of the most celebrated music artists, producers & industry pioneers of our time including Sir George Martin, Paul McCartney, Roger Daltrey, Brian Eno, Dave Grohl, Don Was, Jonie Mitchell, Debbie Harry, Quincy Jones & Mark Ronson.
The Arcades: Contemporary Art & Walter Benjamin (eds) Jens Hoffmann etal ($48, PB)
The Arcades Project (1927–40), the monumental unfinished work of cultural criticism by Walter Benjamin, is the German philosopher’s effort to comprehend urban modernity through the 19th century Parisian shopping arcade, a temple of commerce associated with the flâneur. This book combines artworks with archival materials to form an original, multifaceted response to this collage-like cultural text. Jens Hoffmann pairs works by 36 well-known & emerging artists, including Lee Friedlander, Andreas Gursky, Pierre Huyghe, & Cindy Sherman, with the 36 ‘Convolutes’, or themes, in Benjamin’s text. Also included is a 16 page graphic recounting, from the imagination of Vito Manolo Roma, of Benjamin’s dream the night before he committed suicide while fleeing the Nazis. Essays by Hoffmann & Caroline A. Jones, texts selected by the poet Kenneth Goldsmith, reproductions of Benjamin’s handwritten notes, and a list of the main Paris arcades discussed by him round out this publication.
Indigenous Archives: The Making & Unmaking of Aboriginal Art (eds) Jorgensen & Mclean
In recording & ordering documents considered important, the archive is a source of power. It takes control of the past, deciding which voices will be heard & which won’t, how they will be heard & for what purposes. Indigenous communities understood the power of the archive well before the European Enlightenment arrived & began archiving them. For them colonialism has been a struggle over archives as much as anything else. The 18 essays by 20 authors, 7 of whom are Indigenous, investigate different aspects of this struggle in Australia, from Indigenous uses of traditional archives & the development of new ones to the deconstruction & appropriation of European archives by contemporary artists as acts of cultural empowerment. ($40, PB)
Max Beckmann in New York ($60, HB) German Expressionist painter Max Beckmann (1884–1950) is known for allegorical, autobiographical works that capture the doom & grotesquerie of WWI and the subsequent rise of Nazism. In 1937, under threat by the Nazi regime (which featured Beckmann’s work prominently in the notorious ‘Degenerate Art’ exhibition that year), he and his wife relocated, first to Amsterdam, then to St Louis, and eventually to New York City, where Beckmann died less than one year later. This book features beautiful reproductions of Beckmann’s remarkable artworks, accompanied by an essay by art historian Sabine Rewald that contextualises his paintings and provides insight into his tumultuous life.
We have fresh supplies of the wonderful wooden spinning tops from Mader Kreisel. Handmade in Austria, in natural wood or handpainted, they never fail to delight. Some of them have suprisingly long spin times, and they all have varying degrees of difficulty. Various prices, the simplest starting at $6.95. For serious top collectors we have spinning top plates, also made by Mader, from various beautiful woods, native to the region, eg, black oak wood, cherrywood, maple, and the rather sinister sounding Christ’s thorn wood. At $59.95 they would presumably last a lifetime.
The Five ($39.95)
When they were twelve years old, Mark, Pru, Danny & Slade were out together in the woods. Mark’s five year old brother Jesse was bothering them, so they told him to get lost. Jesse ran away. He was gone. Never seen again. 20 years later, Danny—now a detective—learns some shocking news. Jesse’s DNA has been found at a murder scene. He is alive and out there. Somewhere. A thrilling 10 part series based on Harlan Coben’s Tell No One.
The Party (Region 2, $19.95)
When accident-prone Indian actor Hreundi V. Bakshi (Peter Sellers) manages to blow up an expensive Hollywood movie set—just seconds before it’s scheduled to be blown up on film - the director calls a studio executive to have the actor placed on the ‘exclusion list.’ A clerical error, however, places Bakshi on the ‘A List’ instead and earns him an invitation to the studio executive’s swanky party. Once there, he manages, with nothing but the best intentions, to create disaster! Birdy Num Nums anyone?
Francofonia: An Elegy for Europe (Region 2, $36.95)
Francofonia is the story of 2 remarkable men, Louvre director Jacques Jaujard & Nazi occupation officer Count Franziskus WolffMetternich enemies then collaborators whose alliance would be the driving force behind the preservation of museum treasures. From the mast director of Faust & Russian Ark comes a fascinating exploration of the relationship between art & power.
Winton's Paw Prints
I’ve just finished P. J. O’Rourke’s How The Hell Did This Happen? The ‘this’ of the title being either that dyed-in-the-wool Libertarian Republican, O’Rourke, voted for Hillary Clinton, or that Donald Trump is now President—take your pick. It’s an entertaining read— O’Rourke really knows how to put the boot in, and there’s a plethora of lack lustre 2016 Presidential candidates at whom to take aim. In the midst of all the abuse though I couldn’t help but wince every now and then at the insults he levels at Clinton. Whilst all the attacks are deeply personal, for example Chris Christie’s ample waistline gets a good fatty-boombah bollocking, there is a distinct distaste for women (particularly old women) behind just about everything he says about Hillary. Perhaps, it’s just that there’s only one of her, as is often the case in politics, so the female-specific abuse isn’t diluted by being directed at a stack of candidates. The other thing I am eternally bewildered by is the ‘Libertarian’ stance. O’Rourke’s solution to the ‘elites’ and ‘big government’—the idealised ‘individual’, who would never take part in a populist mob, who understands the value of individual dignity, individual freedom and individual responsibility, seems about as pie-in-the-sky ‘hippie’ claptrap as Bernie Sanders’ old-fashioned 60s socialism O’Rourke so mercilessly mocks. And in spruiking it, O’Rourke comes across as elite as his elite readers (all book readers are of the elite these days). As I was puzzling over this I stumbled across Mark Greif’s collection of essays, Against Everything, and found his essay, Gut-Level Legislation, or, Redistribution a very interesting discussion of how to bridge the obscene poverty/ absurd wealth divide. It’s a libertarian socialism I could happily participate in. Winton Andrew: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry slid onto our shelves last August—an incredibly handsome hardback at only $30 with a beautiful dust jacket featuring a William Morris design. It gathered sales momentum over Christmas, particularly after it won the Waterstones 2016 Book of the Year. Waterstones is of course that British high street bookshop chain, a bit ‘literary’ but with nevertheless a very sharp eye for the commercial. The award treads into the territory that the Oprah Winfrey book club occupied in the USA a few years back; casting itself as an arbiter of intelligent entertainment. I can see now why it won the award. Sarah Perry’s second novel is a gothic page turner set in late Victorian London and Essex—with a cast of incredibly well-drawn characters: a widow adventurer and her companion, an acerbic surgeon, a formidable clergyman and the like. The nineteenth century meets the modern age; religion meets science, and superstition collides with reason in a rollicking spooky tale of a mysterious monster that may or may not be lurking in the Blackwater estuary. It is a clever novel with plenty of ideas, and a genuine knack to both entertain and engage; peopled with characters brimming with repressed thoughts and desires about to be shook awake. You can buy the smart hardcover now, or the paperback when it comes out in June—it’s the perfect book to curl up with in winter.
what we're reading
David Gaunt: It’s odd, if you’re me, and people keep telling you about a book you MUST read. Quite naturally, you resist, and then, when you finally relent, you’re bowled over by the obvious excellence of said book. Such is the case with Graham Swift’s Mothering Sunday, a novella so perfectly crafted that its only shortcoming is its brevity. Since the brilliant Last Orders was published 20 years ago, I’ve eagerly devoured everything Swift has published, but in my opinion this is the best thing he’s written. Exquisite in every way, in the story (‘romance’) it tells and the story it conceals (it is in a very real way a book about writing), it is compact, intense, beautifully and sensually erotic, and a tragic drama.
Scott: Margaret Thatcher: A Life & Legacy, $28—David Cannadine’s new biography is a wonderfully concise and readable portrait of Britain’s Iron Lady charting her upbringing and influences, her political career, her life after politics, and her personal reputation and political legacy. From humble beginnings as a green grocer’s daughter Margaret Thatcher would become Britain’s first female Prime Minister, the second longest serving Tory leader in history, a major player on the international stage during the last years of the Cold War and champion of free market economics which came to be known as Thatcherism. Her radical political agenda and abrasive manner won her few friends but would change Britain forever. Cannadine concludes: ‘There are times when nations may need rough treatment. For good and for ill, Thatcher gave Britain plenty of it.’ Viki: I love the Text Australian Classics series, and am often tempted to indulge in their offer of the whole set for a special price. I have a book lucky dip at Xmas— usually the popular penguins—but last Noel I stocked it with the Text Classics to much joy in those in receipt. My ‘read-aloud’ group of two has just finished Annie Proulx’s Barkskins which somehow led to the idea of an Australian book as palate cleanser. Christina Stead’s name was raised—but after the whopper of a read that Barkskins was we didn’t want to open a big commitment like The Man Who Loved Children. Happily Text has just re-issued a couple of her smaller (in page-count) books. With the first 80 pages of The Little Hotel read, I have to say I had no idea Stead could be so funny. The ‘Swiss-Touring Hotel’, a fourth rate rental for those needing a cheap roof over their heads whilst walking the lakes in a post WW2 Switzerland, has a clientele worthy of a Preston Sturges movie—there’s a role for every character actor from Hollywood’s golden age. Narrated by the young hotel proprietor in one long screwball breath worthy of Hildy Johnson the satire never lets up—I don’t know if it was helped by the fact of reading aloud, but the i forbici affair had tears running down my face I was laughing so much. A master class in comic timing! PS—if you have a friend (or friends) who like to read aloud, I’d highly recommend forming a weekly group.
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Bestsellers—Non-Fiction 1. Still Lucky: Why you should feel optimistic about
Australia & its people
2. Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Under
3. Yarn Spinners
Giulia Enders Marilla North
4. Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate
5. Lion: A Long Way Home
6. Only: A Singular Memoir
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8. The Case Against Fragrance
9. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family & Culture
10. Talking to My Country
J D Vance Stan Grant
Bestsellers—Fiction 1. Do You Love Me Or What? 2. Between a Wolf and a Dog 3. Lincoln in the Bardo 4. The Sellout 5. Truly Madly Guilty 6. The Dark Flood Rises
Sue Woolfe Georgia Blain George Saunders Paul Beatty Liane Moriarty Margaret Drabble
7. The Good People
8. The Sympathizer
Viet Thanh Nguyen
9. Days Without End 10. Swing Time
Sebastian Barry Zadie Smith
and another thing.....
Coopes is back! And promises that more punning with the classics is in the offing. Any titles you’d like seen given the Coopes touch, please email. The Sydney Writers’ Festival is almost upon us, and Gleebooks staff are doing their annual best to stock every book by every writer that is attending. Sadly none of us ever get to the events, so it’s nice to hear from Morgan this month taking a breather in her home town at the Adelaide Writers’ Week. Meanwhile, this month on the to-read list there’s a trifecta of new crime novels I’m looking forward to: a new Brunetti from Donna Leon, another Turkish outing with Barbara Nadel’s Inspector Çetin Ikmen—a mysterious house, and a family of ill-fortune—can’t wait, and Bernie Gunther is back juggling past and present, the Stasi and the Nazis, in Philip Kerr’s Prussian Blue. Also on the crime pages, I like the look of Arrowood—the‘self-taught psychologist, occasional drunkard and private investigator’ who looks after London’s paupers when they’re in need of a PI (Sherlock Holmes being only the rich man’s ‘dick’). As panacea for the cynical depression of old age, and the after-effects of having read P. .J. O’Rourke’s latest diatribe against the elites, I’m going to give the 28 year old Rutger Bregman’s Utopia for Realists (p.15) a go—a universal basic income plan for all citizens, less work, and open up the borders—sounds good to me. The other book I’m really looking forward to is Kay Redfield Jamison’s biography of Robert Lowell (p.17)—her memoir, An Unquiet Mind, was a great read. Viki
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