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Vol. 25 No. 5 June 2017
This month Arundhati Roy returns to fiction with The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
Vale Rose & Rosie
I wouldn’t usually use this space to mark the death of others, but I’d like to pay tribute to two people with long and meaningful relationships with me personally, with Gleebooks, and with the broader community who died in the last few weeks. Rose Creswell died after a long illness on April 19th. She had been hospitalised for some years in the Blue Mountains, before her death, and her partner of many years, Roger Milliss, has both our sympathy and the recognition of his great devotion to her across those years. A cruel illness robbed her in her final years of recognition of the rich bounty of friends and industry colleagues whose relationships she had nurtured during her life. Rose established the first Australian-owned literary agency, in 1979. My strongest personal memories are of the decade we were working neighbours in the 1980s. Rose’s first office was upstairs, two doors down from the old Gleebooks, opposite St Johns Church. Rose conducted a lively business here (and, it ought to be said, from ‘the Habit’ Wine Bar, two doors further up the hill), for a decade, and Gleebooks has the fondest memories of those days. And the greatest admiration for Rose’s trailblazing efforts on behalf of her stable of some of Australia’s best writers during a time of justifiable pride in a burgeoning local publishing scene. She had a fine and discerning intellect, a fierce determination to represent her writers, and was a very significant figure in the Australian literary landscape. Her friends and loved ones mourn her illness and death, but celebrate her life with deep respect and fondness. Rosie Scott died on May 4th, from brain cancer. A very fine writer of novels, short stories, and essays, Rosie was also a fierce and dedicated social justice advocate. As well as her acclaimed fiction, Rosie was responsible for two important works she co-edited (one with Tom Keneally, the other with Anita Heiss) which demonstrated her passionate concern for asylum seekers and Indigenous Australians. She was a great mentor to younger writers, and a teacher of creative writing. Nobody who came to know her could fail to acknowledge her warmth, her compassion, her intellect, and her beautiful shining spirit. I will miss her keen eye and always engaged and engaging conversation. Rosie cared enormously for people and justice. Much loved and missed. David Gaunt
Australian Literature No More Boats by Felicity Castagna ($26.95, PB) It is 2001. 438 refugees sit in a boat called Tampa off the shoreline of Australia while the TV and radio scream out that the country is being flooded, inundated, overrun by migrants. Antonio Martone, once a migrant himself, has been forced to retire, his wife has moved in with the woman next door, his daughter runs off with strange men, his deadbeat son is hiding in the garden smoking marijuana. Amidst his growing paranoia, the ghost of his dead friend shows up and commands him to paint ‘No More Boats’ in giant letters across his front yard. The Prime Minister of Australia keeps telling Antonio that we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstance in which they come, but Antonio’s not sure he wants to think about all those things that led him to get on a boat and come to Australia in the first place. A man and a nation unravel together. This Water: Five Tales by Beverley Farmer
This is a collection of five tales, three of them novella length, each a fragmentary love story with a nameless woman at the centre, and a mythic dimension (Greek or Celtic, folklore or fable) rooted in the power of nature. Water & stone, ice & fire, light & darkness play an important role in all the stories, as do other motifs, closely related to women’s experience, blood, birth, possession & release, marriage and singularity. One tale, set on the south coast of Victoria, is animated by the legend of the Great Silkie, following Sylvia Plath & Joan Baez; another finds its rebellious princess in Lake Annaghmakerrig in Ireland; a third has Clytemnestra as its central figure, mourning the daughter sacrificed by her husband Agamemnon so that he can go to war with Troy. The stories contain and reflect and shadow one other: in each the women speak, act, think for themselves, in opposing or escaping from situations ordained by authority. ($26.95, PB)
Joiner Bay & other stories (ed) Ellen van Neerven
These 17 stories are selected from the 6th annual Margaret River Short Story Competition. A truly national competition, contributors this year come from QLD, Victoria, NSW and WA. Queenslander Laura Elvery’s winning entry, Joiner Bay, is a tender story about running and suicide by a schoolboy in a coastal community. Second prize was awarded to Melbourne Writer Else Fitzgerald for Sheen, a sparkling science fiction story that asks questions about the crossroads of humanity and progress. ($24, PB)
Some Tests by Wayne Macauley ($30, PB) It begins with the normally healthy Beth—aged-care worker, wife of David, mother of Lettie & Gem—feeling vaguely off-colour. A locum sends her to Dr Yi for some tests. ‘There are a few things here that aren’t quite right,’ says Dr Yi, ‘and sometimes it is these little wrongnesses that can lead us to the bigger wrongs that matter.’ Beth is sent on to Dr Twoomey for more tests. Then to another specialist, and another…Referral after referral sees her bumped from suburb to suburb, bewildered, joining bus loads of people all clutching white envelopes & hoping for answers. But what is actually wrong with Beth—is anything, in fact, wrong with her? And what strange forces are at work in the system? As Wayne Macauley’s new novel reaches its climax, we realise how strange these forces are. Losing It by Moira Burke ($23, PB)
In the 1980s in the Melbourne suburb of Fawkner, Josie’s father is drinking himself to an ugly & appalling death. Josie’s mother is a factory machinist, bringing home piecework to keep the family afloat. And Josie is surviving, or not—self-destructive sex, excessive alcohol, drugs, brutalised friendships. But her internal monologue reveals a heartbreaking portrait of an intelligent young woman desperately looking for a way to make sense of her life, grappling with her feelings of repulsion & love for her father and her longing to be loved. Losing It is a vivid & visceral account of 1980s working-class Melbourne.
Art Auction Fundraiser - SAVE THE DATE In collaboration with Penguin Random House and the Australian Society of Authors, we are pleased to announce a silent auction of donated artwork from prominent children’s book illustrators. This special fundraising evening will be held on Thursday 22 June from 5pm. Save the date and watch this space for more information... www.indigenousliteracyfoundation.org.au
Blue Skies by Helen Hodgman ($12.95, PB) In Helen Hodgman’s dazzlingly written debut a young woman is trapped in a small city on an island at the end of the world—by motherhood and an absent husband, by busybody in-laws and neighbours, by a drab society yet to throw off the shackles of its colonial past. A darkly funny tale of a crack-up in stultifying suburbia, Blue Skies marked the emergence of a unique, acerbic voice in Australian fiction. This edition includes an introduction by the acclaimed Tasmanian author Danielle Wood.
Fortune’s Son by Jennifer Scoullar ($33, PB) Young Luke Tyler’s future appears bright, until he defends his sister from the powerful Sir Henry Abbot. His reward is 15 years hard labour on a prison farm in Tasmania’s remote highlands. Luke escapes, finding sanctuary with a local philanthropist, Daniel Campbell, and starting a forbidden relationship with Daniel’s daughter, Belle. When he is betrayed he flees to South Africa to start afresh. Yet he remains haunted by the past, and by Belle, the woman he can’t forget. When he returns to seek revenge and reclaim his life, his actions will have shattering consequences—for the innocent as well as the guilty.
'A luminous story of renewal and resurrection' - Kylie Ladd, author of Mothers and Daughters
THE EXTRAORDINARY TRUE STORY OF THE FIRST BICYCLE RACE AROUND AUSTRALIA
Everyone knows it's hard to make new friends
New this month: Meanjin Vol 76 No 2 (ed) Jonathan Green ($25, PB) Amber and Alice by Janette Paul ($33, PB)
Amber Jones wakes up in her sister Sage’s speeding car, with no idea how she got there (though the hangover is a clue). Sage is convinced a road trip to Alice Springs will finally answer the burning question: who is Amber’s father? Because 9 months before Amber’s birth, her late mother Goldie made the same trip. Armed with just a name and Goldie’s diaries, Amber agrees to search for a man she’s never met in one of the world’s biggest deserts. And that means spending 2 weeks in a convoy of four-wheel-driving tourists & camping in freezing desert nights. Her fellow travellers hate her & the handsome tour leader Tom thinks she’s an alcoholic. But slowly the desert starts to reveal its secrets—and Amber must decide which horizon to follow.
On D’Hill As all ‘Dully’ (there, I’ve used that nickname I don’t like) residents know there’s a huge amount of building going on in the burg. And underneath all these new apartment buildings are new shop premises begging to be leased. Just up the road from gleebooks yet another café has opened and yet again, the minute it opened its doors it filled with people. Apparently they’re aiming to open at night once council gets around to approving it which is a good thing. The one thing we do need in our high street is a lively night scene—more restaurants and bars please. A fish shop would be good too! This month I’ve read two very deserving prize-winners—The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose ($28) which won the Stella prize for women’s fiction and The Lost Pages by Marija Pericic ($30), which has won the Vogel Prize for a debut novel. Both wonderful in their own ways, both intelligent and a bit arty-farty. Rose’s book has an audacious conceit which is having the artist Marina Abramovic’s famous MOMA performance piece The Artist is Present at its heart. But the book is actually about a composer, Levin, dealing with a tragedy in his life and obsessively going to the gallery to watch Abromovic’s performance. The book is part novel, part biography of Abramovic, part art criticism and the closest thing I’ve read to Siri Hustvedt in its New York art setting and in its deep humanity. Marvellous. The Lost Pages centres on two ‘real’ people—Max Brod and Franz Kafka. In Pericic’s novel, Brod is incredibly jealous of Kafka’s writing, but it would appear that they were, in fact, very close and Brod did everything he could to promote Kafka’s work. Highly enjoyable and very well written. Pericic is definitely a writer to watch. Perhaps neither of these novels would be eligible for the Miles Franklin Prize as both are set overseas and neither have Australian characters, but I like that our writers aren’t afraid to be international. That’s certainly true of the Swiss writer Joel Dicker who writes novels set in America which need to be translated from the French. His first The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair ($20) was terrific—a literary thriller of the first order. Now his second book, The Baltimore Boys ($33) features the same character, writer Marcus Goldman, in what is described as a prequel to Harry Quebert. I’ve only just started it so can’t really say anything but at my age and gender, I’m not sure yet another male coming-of-age story will interest me. There’s a fabulous line-up of new books for the second half of the year which publishers are already showing booksellers. We’re looking forward to a great Christmas trade with new books from Michelle de Kretser (can’t wait to get my paws on a proof!), Richard Fidler and Richard Flanagan. An embarrassment of riches. A reminder to those of you with toddlers to come along to storytime at 10am every Thursday. See you on D’Hill, Morgan
Gravity Well by Melanie Joosten ($30, PB)
Lotte is an astronomer who spends her nights peering into deep space rather than looking too closely at herself. When she returns to her hometown after years in South America, reeling from a devastating diagnosis, she finds that her father has remarried, and she feels like an outsider in the family home. She’s estranged from her former best friend, Eve and unsure of how to recover their closeness. Initially, a cause of disharmony, her return becomes the catalyst for an event that will change Lotte & Eve’s lives forever. If families are like solar systems what is the force that drives them? And what are the consequences when the weight of one planet tugs others off course?
To Become a Whale by Ben Hobson ($30, PB)
13 year old Sam Keogh’s mother has died. He has to learn how to live with his silent, hitherto absent father, who decides to make a man out of his son by taking him to work at Tangalooma, then the largest whaling station in the southern hemisphere. What follows is the devastatingly beautiful story of a gentle boy trying to make sense of the terrible reality of whaling and the cruelty and alienation of his new world, the world of men. Set around Moreton Island & Noosa in 1961, this haunting debut novel has echoes of Tim Winton & Randolph Stow.
The Gulf by Anna Spargo-Ryan ($30, PB)
Year of the Orphan by Daniel Findlay
Outback Australia. Hundreds of years from now. After the end. A girl races across the desert pursued by the reckoner, scavenged spoils held close. In a blasted landscape of abandoned mines & the crumbling bones of civilisation, she survives by picking over the dead past. She trades her scraps at the only known settlement, a ramshackle fortress of greed, corruption & disease. An outpost whose only purpose is survival—refuge from the creatures that hunt beyond. Sold then raised hard in the System, the Orphan has a mission, carries secrets about the destruction that brought the world to its knees. And she’s about to discover that the past still holds power over the present. Given an impossible choice, will the Orphan save the only home she knows or see it returned to dust? Both paths lead to blood, but whose will be spilled? ($33, PB)
Skye’s sixteen, and her mum’s got yet another new boyfriend. Trouble is, Jason’s bad news. Really bad. Now mum’s quit her job and they’re all moving north to Port Flinders, population nobody. ‘That’s a Southhern Right Whale. They have the largest balls of any animal in the world.’ She’d do anything to keep her ten-year-old brother safe. Things she can’t even say out loud. And when Jason gets violent, Skye knows she has to take control. She’s got to get Ben out and their mum’s useless as. The train home to Adelaide leaves first thing each morning and they both need to be on it. Everything else can wait. ‘Ladybirds bleed from their knees when they’re stressed.’ The Gulf is an acute, moving and uplifting story from the inimitable, alchemical imagination of Anna Spargo-Ryan.
The Reminders by Val Emmich ($30, PB)
Overcome with the loss of his boyfriend Sydney, Gavin Winters has set fire to every reminder in their home. A neighbour has captured the blaze on video, turning this little-known TV actor into a household name. Gavin flees LA for New Jersey, where he hopes that 10 year-old Joan, the daughter of a close friend, can reconnect him with the memories of Sydney he is now in danger of losing forever. Joan was born with a rare ability to recall every single day of her life in perfect detail, and in return for sharing her memories of Sydney, Gavin will help her write a song for a local competition. For Joan has had enough of being the girl who can’t forget—she wants to be the girl who will never be forgotten. The Reminders is an irresistible story of the unlikely friendship between a grief-stricken man who can’t remember & a ten-year-old girl who can’t forget.
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan ($33, PB)
On the eve of her daughter Alia’s wedding, Salma reads the girl’s future in a cup of coffee dregs. Although she keeps her predictions to herself that day, they soon come to pass in the wake of the SixDay War of 1967. Caught up in the resistance, Alia’s brother disappears, while Alia and her husband move from Nablus to Kuwait City. Reluctantly they build a life, torn between needing to remember and learning to forget. When Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait, Alia and her family yet again lose their home, their land, and their story as they know it. Scattering to Beirut, Paris and Boston, Alia’s children begin families of their own, once more navigating the burdens and blessings of beginning again. A lyrical debut about one family in the wake of war, about needing to remember, and learning to forget.
Nest in the Bones: Stories by Antonio Benedetto ($35, PB)
Philosophically engaged & darkly moving, the 20 stories in this collection span 3 decades from Antonio di Benedetto’s wildly various career. From his youth in Argentina to his exile in Spain after enduring emprisonment & torture under the military dictatorship during the so-called ‘dirty war’ to his return in the 1980s, Benedetto’s kinetic stories move effortlessly between genres, examining civilization’s subtle but violent imprint on human conciousness. A late 20th century master of the short form, this is the first comprehensive volume of Benedetto’s stories in English.
Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou ($30, PB) It’s 1970, and in the People’s Republic of Congo a MarxistLeninist revolution is ushering in a new age. But over at the orphanage on the outskirts of Pointe-Noire where young Moses has grown up, the revolution has only strengthened the reign of terror of Dieudonn Ngoulmoumako, the institution’s corrupt director. So Moses escapes to Pointe-Noire, where he finds a home with a larcenous band of Congolese Merry Men & among the Zairian prostitutes of the Trois-Cents quarter. But the authorities won’t leave Moses in peace, and intervene to chase both the Merry Men & the Trois-Cents girls out of town. All this injustice pushes poor Moses over the edge. Could he really be the Robin Hood of the Congo? Or is he just losing his marbles? A larger-than-life comic tale of a young man obsessed with helping the helpless in an unjust world. Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett ($30, PB)
Cass Wheeler—a British singer-songwriter, hugely successful since the early 70s, whose sudden disappearance from the music world 3 decades later has been the subject of intense speculation among her fans—is in the studio that adjoins her home, taking a journey back into her past. Her task is to choose 16 songs from among the hundreds she has written since her early teens, for a uniquely personal greatest hits album, describing the arc of her life through song. It has been over a decade since Cass last put out an album; ten years since a tragedy catapulted her into a breakdown. In the course of this one day each song Cass plays sets off a chain of memories, leading into her past, and into the creative impulse that has underpinned her work.
The Wangs Vs the World by Jade Chang
Charles Wang has just lost the cosmetics fortune he built up since emigrating to the US. Gone are the houses, the cars & the incredible lifestyle. Faced with this loss, he decides to take his family on a trip to China & attempt to reclaim his ancestral lands. But first they must go on a cross-country journey from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the Upstate NY retreat of his eldest daughter, Saina. Charles takes his other two children out of schools that he can no longer afford & packs them into the only car that wasn’t repossessed—along with their wealth-addicted stepmother, Barbra. But with his son waylaid by a much-older temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets, and an epic smash-up in North Carolina, Charles may have to choose between the old world & the new, between keeping his family intact and finally, finally fulfilling his dream of China. ($23, PB)
New this month: Granta 139: Best of Young American Novelists 3, $25
The End We Start From by Megan Hunter ($20, HB)
In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety. As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z’s small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds. ‘Megan Hunter’s prose is exquisite, her depiction of a world descending into chaos is frighteningly real, and yet, it is her portrayal of motherhood—that tender-terrifying experience of bringing a child into a world—that has remained with me ... an incredible, original exploration of all that beauty, boredom and bewilderment. I read it in one sitting, and was deeply moved.’ Hannah Kent.
Phone by Will Self ($33, PB)
Meet Jonathan De’Ath, aka ‘the Butcher’. The curious thing about the Butcher is that everyone who knows him—his washed-up old university lecturer father, his jumbling-bumbling mother, his hippydippy brothers, his so-called friends, his spooky colleagues and his multitudinous lovers—they all apply this epithet to him quite independently, each in ignorance of the others. He knows everyone calls him ‘the Butcher’ behind his back, but he also knows that they don’t know the only real secret he maintains, encrypted in the databanks of his steely mind: Colonel Gawain Thomas, husband, father, highly-trained tank commander—is Jonathan De’Ath’s longtime lover.
Gleebooks’ special price $29.99
Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan ($20, HB)
When Nicholas Young hears that his grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, he rushes to be by her bedside—but he’s not alone. It seems the entire Shang-Young clan has convened from all corners of the globe, ostensibly to care for their matriarch but truly to stake claim on the massive fortune that Su Yi controls. With each family member secretly fantasizing about getting the keys to Tyersall Park—a trophy estate on 64 prime acres in the heart of Singapore—the place becomes a hotbed of intrigue and Nicholas finds himself blocked from entering the premises. As relatives claw over heirlooms, Astrid Leong is at the center of her own storm, desperately in love with her old sweetheart Charlie Wu, but tormented by his ex-wife—a woman hell bent on destroying Astrid’s reputation and relationship. Meanwhile Kitty Pong, married to billionaire Jack Bing, finds a formidable opponent in his fashionista daughter, Colette. The author of Cracy Rich Asians offers a sweeping novel that takes us from the elegantly appointed mansions of Manila to the secluded private islands in the Sulu Sea, from a schoolyard kidnapping to a gold-leaf dancefloor spattered with blood
The Nothing by Hanif Kureishi ($25, HB)
In this novella Waldo, a fêted filmmaker, is confined by old age and ill health to his London apartment. Frail and frustrated, he is cared for by his lovely younger wife, Zee. But when he suspects that Zee is beginning an affair with Eddie, ‘more than an acquaintance and less than a friend for over thirty years,’ Waldo is pressed to action: determined to expose the couple, he sets himself first to prove his suspicions correct—and then to enact his revenge.
Ninety-Nine Stories of God by Joy Williams
At a hot-dog-eating contest or at a demolition derby, in line at the pharmacy counter waiting for a shingles vaccination, living in a cave with a colony of bats: the Almighty appears in ever-more mysterious ways in Joy Williams’ surreal, sublime new collection of very short short stories. Each less than a page long, each packing a punch belied by its size, every one of these ninety-nine stories tells of everyday human interaction with an increasingly elusive & arbitrary deity. Haunted by an array of extraordinary historical figures, from Tolstoy to O. J. Simpson & Philip K. Dick, but populated by anonymous ordinary people, the stories pool seemingly random moments into something deep & disconcerting—breaking down the barriers between the everyday and the divine. ($25, HB)
Everybody’s Son: A Novel by Thrity Umrigar
During a terrible heat wave in 1991 ten-year-old Anton has been locked in an apartment in the projects, alone, for seven days, without air conditioning or a fan. Hot, hungry, and desperate, he shatters a window and climbs out. Juanita, his mother, is discovered in a crack house less than three blocks away, nearly unconscious & half-naked. She went out for a quick hit and was headed right back, until her drug dealer raped her and kept her high. Though the bond between mother and son is extremely strong, Anton is placed with child services while Juanita goes to jail.The Harvard-educated son of a US senator, Judge David Coleman is a scion of northeastern white privilege. Desperate to have a child after the tragic death of his teenage son, David uses his power and connections to keep his new foster son, Anton. Following in his adopted family’s footsteps, Anton, too, rises within the establishment. But when he discovers the truth about his life, his birth mother, and his adopted parents, this man of the law must come to terms with the moral complexities of crimes committed by the people he loves most. ($30, PB)
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy ($33, PB)
In Arundhati Roy’s first novel since her Booker prize winner, The God of Small Things, she takes an intimate journey across the Indian subcontinent—from the cramped neighbourhoods of Old Delhi and the glittering malls of the burgeoning new metropolis to the snowy mountains and valleys of Kashmir, where war is peace and peace is war, and from time to time ‘normalcy’ is declared. Anjum unrolls a threadbare Persian carpet in a city graveyard that she calls home. We encounter the incorrigible Saddam Hussain, the unforgettable Tilo and the three men who loved her—including Musa whose fate as tightly entwined with hers as their arms always used to be. Tilo’s landlord, another former suitor, is now an Intelligence officer posted to Kabul. And then there are the two Miss Jebeens: the first born in Srinagar and buried, aged four, in its overcrowded Martyrs’ Graveyard; the second found at midnight, in a crib of litter, on the concrete pavement of New Delhi.At once an aching love story and a decisive remonstration, a heartbreaker and a mind-bender, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is told in a whisper, in a shout, through tears and sometimes with a laugh.
A BLUE MOUNTAINS LITERARY EVENT The firsT ever book devoTed enTirely To The golden years of The sydney underworld. In the late 1960s Sydney was one of the most prosperous places on earth and one of the most corrupt. A large proportion of the population was engaged in illegal gambling and other activities that made colourful characters such as Lennie McPherson, Abe Saffron and George Freeman wealthy and, to many, folk heroes. Thousands of American soldiers on their seven-day leave from Vietnam turned Kings Cross, with its strip shows and night clubs, into one big party. In Sydney Noir Michael Duffy and Nick Hordern revisit this dark yet fascinating chapter of Sydney’s history, telling stories that would be unbelievable were they not true. Finally, they make the bold argument that premier of the time, Sir Robert Askin, may not have been as guilty of corruption as many have claimed.
Gleebooks’ special price $29.99
The Complete Stories by Anita Desai ($45, HB)
On the occasion of her 80th birthday, The Complete Stories gathers together the short story collections Diamond Dust and Games at Twilight and the novellas of The Artist of Disappearance, with a new preface from the author. From the icy suburbs of Canada to the overcrowded B&Bs of Cornwall, via the hill towns and cities of India, Anita Desai observes human behaviour unflinchingly but not unkindly, recognising our ordinariness and our strangeness, and capturing both with quiet precision.
Now in B Format Nutshell by Ian McEwan, $20 Cousins by Salley Vickers, $20 Conrad & Eleanor by Jane Rogers, $20 The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler, $20 Jews Queers Germans by Martin Duberman
This novel revolves around three men: Prince Philipp von Eulenburg, Kaiser Wilhelm II’s closest friend, who becomes the subject of a notorious 1907 trial for homosexuality; Magnus Hirschfeld, a famed, Jewish sexologist who gives testimony at the trial; and Count Harry Kessler, a leading proponent of modernism, and the keeper of a famous set of diaries which lay out in intimate detail the major social, artistic and political events of the day and allude as well to his own homosexuality. The central theme here is the gay life of a very upper crust intellectual milieu that had a real impact on the major political upheavals that would shape the modern world forever after. Abreathtaking historical novel that recreates the intimate milieu around Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm from 1907 through the 1930s, a period of great human suffering & destruction and also of enormous freedom & creativity, a time when the remnants & artifices of the old world still mattered, and yet when art & the social sciences were pirouetting with successive revolutions in thought & style. ($33, PB)
Catarina the Wise and Other Wondrous Sicilian Folk and Fairy Tales by Giuseppe Pitrè ($45, PB)
Born to a poor family of sailors in Palermo, Giuseppe Pitrè would go on to serve with Garibaldi, become a traveling country doctor, and gather one of the most colossal collections of folk & fairy tales of the 19th century. But while his work as a folklorist rivaled that of the Brothers Grimm, Pitrè remains a relative unknown. From The Pot of Basil to The Talking Belly, The Little Mouse with the Stinky Tail to Peppi, Who Wandered out into the World, the stories in Catarina the Wise range from simple tales of getting a new dress or something good to eat to fantastical plots for outwitting domineering husbands, rescuing impoverished fathers, or attracting wealthy suitors (frequently the Prince of Portugal). Many feature strong, clever women (usually daughters who become queen). Many are funny; many are wise. Some are very, very strange.
The French Art of War by Alexis Jenni ($33, PB)
It was the beginning of the Gulf War. I watched it on TV and did little else. I was doing badly, you see. Everything was going wrong. I just awaited the end. But then I met Victorien Salagnon, a veteran of the great colonial wars of Indochina, Vietnam and Algeria, a commander who had led his soldiers across the globe, a man with the blood of others up to his elbows. He said he would teach me to paint; he must have been the only painter in the French Forces, but out there no one cares about such things. I cared, though. In return, he wanted me to write his life story. And so he talked, and I wrote, and through him I witnessed the rivers of blood that cut channels through France, I saw the deaths that were as numberless as they were senseless and I began finally to understand the French art of war. This is the Goncourt-winning novel about the intervals of peace and the moments of unspeakable savagery in French wars spanning half the world and half a century.
MICHAEL DUFFY has worked for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sun Herald as a reporter of crime and other urban issues. He is the author of many crime books – novels and non-fiction - including The Tower, The Simple Death and Drive By. He is currently a media officer for NSW Prisons. Michael will be conversation with MArk TEDESCHI AM QC who is an Australian Barrister, Crown Prosecutor, law professor, photographer and author.
When: Where: Cost:
sunday 25 June, 2017
2.00pm for 2.30pm start. Glenella Guesthouse, Blackheath $15 ($12 conc) includes afternoon tea
Bookings essential. Tickets available at Gleebooks Blackheath or phone Gleebooks on 4787 6340 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Heloise by Mandy Hager ($33, PB)
Heloise is a determined young woman with an exceptional mind, longing to pursue learning rather than marriage or life as a cloistered nun. Her path inevitably crosses with Peter Abelard, the celebrity philosopher, theologian & master at Paris’ famed Cathedral School. But theirs is an impossible love. This is a time when the Gregorian Reforms are starting to bite and celibacy among the clergy & church officials is being rigorously imposed. Based on meticulous up-to-date research and the pair’s own writings, this novel offers a plausible interpretation of the known facts and a vivid imagining of the gaps in this legendary story.
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy ($25, HB)
Seduced by politics and poetry, the unnamed narrator falls in love with a university professor and agrees to be his wife, but what for her is a contract of love is for him a contract of ownership. As he sets about reducing her to his idealised version of a kept woman, bullying her out of her life as an academic and writer in the process, she attempts to push back—a resistance he resolves to break with violence and rape. Informed and inspired by her own experiences, Kandasamy’s second novel is a provocative novel of an abusive marriage.
The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty ($20, PB)
This is is Man Booker-winner Paul Beatty’s electrifying debut novel about teenage-surf-bum Gunnar Kaufman who is forced to wise up when his mother moves from suburban Santa Monica to urban West Los Angeles. There, he begins to undergo a startling transformation from neighbourhood outcast to basketball superstar, and eventually to reluctant messiah of a ‘divided, downtrodden people’.
The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett
Jamie Allenby wakes, alone, and realises her fever has broken. But could everyone she knows be dead? Months earlier, Jamie had left her partner Daniel, mourning the miscarriage of their baby. She’d just had to get away, so took a job on a distant planet. Then the virus hit. Jamie survived as it swept through our far-flung colonies. Now she feels desperate and isolated, until she receives a garbled message from Earth. If someone from her past is still alive - perhaps Daniel - she knows she must find a way to return. She meets others seeking Earth, and their ill-matched group will travel across space to achieve their dream. But they’ll clash with survivors intent on repeating humanity’s past mistakes, threatening their precious fresh start. ($30, PB)
THE WILDER AISLES
Charity Norman is the author of five novels, including Freeing Grace and Second Chances, both of which I have reviewed in these pages. Her latest is about to be released, and having really enjoyed reading it, I thought I should share it with my readers. See You In September ($30) is about Cassy and her holiday in New Zealand—a short trip, she takes with her boyfriend Hamish, before her best friend’s wedding. ‘See you in September’ are the last words Cassy says to her family as she prepares to board the plane. Things go awry when they reach Auckland, and they find themselves on the outskirts of the city, trying to hitch to Taupo. With the weather getting worse along with their relationship, Cassy, cold and miserable, decides to take the first lift that comes along, which turns out to be a white van—full of people singing loudly. The door slides open, and a feeling of warmth and welcome encloses Cassy—she abandons Hamish, and jumps in. The friendly crowd in the van say they will take her to Rotorua, but before long Cassy is drawn into the group and easily persuaded to accompany them to their home, Gethsemane, deep in the forest. What happens to Cassy here after she meets the very charismatic Justin Calvin is a great story of obsession, love, family and faith. I can easily relate to Cassy’s desire to stay safe and cared for, to be Justin’s special friend, and find the idea of leaving intolerable. This is an absorbing hard to put down novel, with a very interesting cast of characters, living a supposedly idyllic life, in beautiful surroundings, but like the other Eden, things can go horribly wrong. Where I Lost Her by T. Greenwood ($30)—an author up to now unknown to me—is an unusual crime novel. Tess and Luke, a well-known couple in the world of publishing, are staying with friends, Effie and Devin, in their camp in Vermont, a six-hour drive from their home in Brooklyn, but another world in terms of surroundings. Tess seeks help and consolation from Effie about her inability to have a child and the deteriorating state of her marriage. She is drinking too much and one night when the wine runs out she insists on driving to get more. On her way home, she sees a tiny child standing in the middle of the road—naked from the waist up, wearing a ragged tutu and ladybird boots. Tess slams on the brakes and approaches the child, who is unresponsive to her questions. When Tess accidentally sets the car alarm off the girl vanishes into the woods. What follows is a severe test for Tess. The ensuing search is called off without a result, and everyone, including the police, decide that either Tess was drunk and imagined the whole thing, or just made the story up for the chance to be on television. The story progresses with many varied strands, including sexual attacks on children and drugs. As Tess sorts out her marriage, her career, and her life back in Brooklyn, she matures and starts to come to terms with her lack of a child. I really liked this book. It has a bit of everything—crime, a touch of romance and a very satisfactory ending. The Shadow District by Arnaldur Indridason ($33), my favourite Icelandic writer is the first book in a new series. It features retired detective Konrad—a great character who will never give up once he has started investigating. During the war, a young woman is found strangled in a rough and dangerous are a of Reykjavik, known as the shadow district. The Americans are in Iceland and the American military police and a local detective are investigating the murder. In the present day, a ninety-year- old man is found dead, smothered by his pillow. Newspapers found in his flat date back to the war. So what is the link between the two crimes, and why has the old crime resurfaced now. During the war, the case is investigated by two detectives, Flovent and Thorson. In the present day, Konrad, who grew up in the shadow district, remembers the crime and his memory may be an asset in solving the case. Also, in the present, a woman and a child have gone missing and Konrad becomes involved in the search. This becomes personal for him due to the earlier death of another missing child, a case with which he was connected. This is a complicated story, with so much going on it is hard to summarise it. I do recommend reading it, you won’t be disappointed. Just quickly, I want to mention the new Anita Shreve, The Stars are Fire ($30). It is set in the late 1940s when fires, caused by drought and high temperatures, ripped through the coast of Maine and destroyed many houses and acres of land. The pregnant Grace Holland is forced to leave her house and shelter on the beach with her two young children. Her husband, Gene, has gone to fight the fires, with other volunteers, who are trying to bring them under control. Grace is left with nowhere to live, no money and no husband. Her mother’s house has also been destroyed so Grace, her children and her mother move in with old friends until they can sort their lives out. Grace finds that although she is worried about her husband, she experiences a new feeling of freedom. How Grace uses her new freedom, reinvents herself and finds unexpected strengths makes for a really good read. I admired Grace, her fight for her children, her ability to make a new life for them and her coping skills when things threaten to collapse around her. I like Anita Shreve’s books. They may not be great literature, but they are entertaining and well-written. Good to while away a cold winter’ afternoon. Janice Wilder
The Girl in Kellers Way by Megan Goldin ($33, PB)
When a body is found buried near the desolate forest road of Kellers Way, Detective Melanie Carter must identify the victim if she is to have any chance of finding the killer. That’s no easy task with fragmentary evidence from a crime committed years earlier & a conspiracy of silence from anyone who might have information. The one person who may be able to help is Julie West. In a troubled marriage, Julie often jogs along Kellers Way to clear her mind and escape the confines of her suffocating suburban life. Until one day, something happens there that shakes Julie to the core, making her question everything—even her sanity.
Camino Island by John Grisham ($33, PB)
The most daring & devastating heist in literary history targets a high security vault located deep beneath Princeton University—valued at $25 million (though some would say priceless) the 5 manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s only novels are amongst the most valuable in the world. The manuscripts & the ruthless gang of thieves who took them have vanished without trace. A struggling writer burdened by debts, Mercer Mann spent summers on Florida’s idyllic Camino Island as a kid, in her grandmother’s beach cottage. Now she is being made an offer she can’t refuse: to return to the peace of the island, to write her novel—and get close to a certain infamous bookseller, and his interesting collection of manuscripts.
The Templars’ Last Secret by Martin Walker ($33, PB) The body of a woman is found outside a cave beneath the ruined Templar chateau of Commarque in the heart of Chief Bruno’s Dordogne. An accidental fall, or was she pushed? The only clue to her identity is that her dentistry looks American, but Bruno’s inquiries at local hotels yields no trace of a missing foreign woman. The chateau of Commarque is one of the few Templar sites in France that has never been associated with the fabled hidden treasure of the Templars—until now. When a local journalist publishes a sensational story around the unknown woman’s death, a centuries-old mystery looks like it might finally be solved.
Need You Dead by Peter James ($30, PB) Lorna Belling, desperate to escape the marriage from hell, falls for the charms of another man who promises her the earth. But a chance photograph on a client’s mobile phone changes everything for her. When the body of a woman is found in a bath in Brighton, DS Roy Grace is called to the scene. At first it looks an open & shut case with a clear prime suspect. Then other scenarios begin to present themselves, each of them tantalisingly plausible, until, in a sudden turn of events, and to his utter disbelief, the case turns more sinister than Grace could ever have imagined. The Barrier by Shankari Chandran ($30, PB) 20 years ago an Ebola epidemic brought the world to the edge of oblivion. The West won the war, the East was isolated behind a wall, and a vaccine against Ebola was developed. Peace prevailed. Now Agent Noah Williams is being sent over the barrier to investigate a rogue scientist who risks releasing another plague. But why would a once-respected academic threaten the enforced vaccination program that ensures humans are no longer an endangered species? Hunting for answers amid shoot outs, espionage and murder, Noah will have to confront a fundamental question: In the fight for survival, can our humanity survive too? The Force by Don Winslow ($33, PB)
Malone and his crew are an elite special unit given carte blanche to fight gangs, drugs and guns. For 18 years, Malone has served on the front lines. He’s done whatever it takes to serve & protect in a city built by ambition & corruption, where no one is clean—including Malone himself. What only a few know is that Denny Malone is dirty. Trapped & squeezed by the Feds, he must walk the thin line between betraying his brothers & partners, the Job, his family, and the woman he loves—trying to survive while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all. Based on years of research inside the NYPD, The Force is a searing portrait of a city on the brink and of a courageous, heroic, and deeply flawed man who stands at the edge of its abyss.
A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson ($30, PB) Agatha Christie, in London to visit her literary agent, boards a train, preoccupied and flustered in the knowledge that her husband Archie is having an affair. A light touch on her back causes her to lose her balance, then someone pulls her to safety from the rush of the incoming train. But her rescuer is no guardian angel; rather, he is a blackmailer of the most insidious, manipulative kind. Agatha must use every ounce of her cleverness and resourcefulness to thwart an adversary determined to exploit her genius for murder to kill on his behalf. Defectors by Joseph Kanon ($30, PB)
Moscow, the Cold War, 1961. Former CIA agent Francis ‘Frank’ Weeks, the most notorious of the defectors to the Soviet Union, is about to publish his memoirs, and what he reveals is reportedly going to send shock waves through the West. When a Soviet agency approaches Frank’s brother Simon, a publisher in NYC with a proposition to publish his brother’s memoirs, he finds the offer irresistible since it will finally give him the chance to learn why his brother chose to betray his country. But what he discovers in Moscow is far more than he ever imagined.
Marlborough Man by Alan Carter ($30, PB)
Nick Chester is working as a sergeant for the Havelock police in the Marlborough Sound, at the top of NZ’s South Island. If the river isn’t flooded and the land hasn’t slipped, it’s paradise—unless you are also hiding from a ruthless man with a grudge, in which case, remote beauty has its own kind of danger. In the last couple of weeks, two local boys have vanished. Their bodies are found, but the Pied Piper is still at large. Marlborough Man is a gripping story about the hunter and the hunted, and about what happens when evil takes hold of a small town.
Sunday Morning Coming Down by Nicci French
Psychotherapist Dr Frieda Klein once again finds herself in the midst of a criminal investigation when the rotting body of an ex-policeman is found beneath the floorboards of her house. The corpse is only months old but the main suspect, murderer Dean Reeve, died over seven years ago. As the killer picks off his next victims and her home is turned into a crime scene, Frieda’s old life seems like a hazy dream. With eyes of the world upon her and no answers from the police, Frieda realises that she will have to track this killer before he tracks down those she loves. ($33, PB)
You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood ($33, PB)
An unnamed defendant stands accused of murder. Just before the Closing Speeches, the young man sacks his lawyer, and decides to give his own defence. He says that his barrister told him to leave some things out. Sometimes, the truth can be too difficult to explain, or believe. But if he’s going to go down for life, he wants to go down telling the truth. As he talks us through the evidence against him, his life is in our hands. We, the reader—member of the jury—must keep an open mind till we’ve heard his story. His defence raises many questions—but at the end of the speeches, only one matters: Did he do it?
No Killing Sky by Rory McCourt ($25, PB)
When young Irish/American climber, Liam Doyle, sets out to locate the body of his father, high in the death zone of the ‘savage mountain’ K2, he is confronted by a series of inexplicable events. He enlists the help of two friends, an ex-special forces buddy and a Washington editor. Their investigations take them into the heart of a conspiracy with the potential to wreak atmospheric havoc on a planetary scale. A critical US election race, escalating violence across Asia and increasingly hostile media create a toxic climate in which they must risk their lives to expose the truth.
Butterfly on the Storm by Walter Lucius ($33, PB)
A young boy wearing jewellery is found in woods outside Amsterdam. Broken and bloody, he appears to be the victim of a brutal hit and run. When the police at the hospital ask what happened, the one word the boy whispers —‘Padar’—they don’t understand. But journalist Farah Hafez does. She left Afghanistan as a child and she recognizes her native tongue. As the boy is taken into surgery she finds herself visiting the scene of the crime, seeking to discover how a little Afghan boy came to be so far from home. Instead, she comes across a burnt-out car and two bodies—sinister clues to something far darker than a simple hit and run. Her journey that will lead her from one twisted strand to another in an intricate web of crime and corruption that stretches across Europe and deep into a past that Farah had sought to escape—one that nearly killed her.
Heretics by Leonardo Padura ($27, PB)
In 1939, the Saint Louis sails from Hamburg into Havana’s port with hundreds of Jewish refugees. From the docks, 9 year old Daniel Kaminsky watches as the passengers, including his parents, become embroiled in a fiasco of Cuban corruption. But the Kaminskys have a treasure that they hope will save them: a Rembrandt portrait of Christ. 6 days later the vessel is forced to return to the horrors of Europe. The Kaminskys, along with their Rembrandt, disappear. 70 years later it reappears in a London auction house, prompting Daniel’s son to travel to Cuba to track down the story of this lost masterpiece. He hires Inspector Mario Conde, and together they navigate a web of deception and violence in the morally complex city of Havana.
The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey ($33, PB) A beautiful young teacher has been murdered, her body found in the lake, strewn with red roses. Local policewoman Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock pushes to be assigned to the case, concealing the fact that she knew the murdered woman in high school years before. But that’s not all Gemma’s trying to hide. As the investigation digs deeper into the victim’s past, other secrets threaten to come to light, secrets that were supposed to remain buried. The lake holds the key to solving the murder, but it also has the power to drag Gemma down into its dark depths.
Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love by James Runcie ($28, HB)
May 1971, Archdeacon Sidney Chambers is walking in a bluebell wood with his daughter Anna and their ageing Labrador Byron when they stumble upon a body. Plunged into another murder investigation, Sidney discovers a world of hippies & psychedelic plants, where permissive behaviour seems to hide something darker. A celebrated photographer is accused of rape; a priceless religious text vanishes from a Cambridge college; the authentication of a lost masterpiece proves a slippery business. And whilst wrestling with all this Sidney continues to reflect on the divine mysteries of love, life and faith.
Anna Spargo-Ryan ‘A literary star is born.’ Australian Women’s Weekly Skye’s sixteen, and her mum’s got yet another new boyfriend. Trouble is, Jason’s bad news. Really bad. Now mum’s quit her job and they’re all moving north to Port Flinders, population nobody. She’d do anything to keep her ten-year-old brother safe. And when Jason gets violent, she’s got to get Ben out and their mum’s useless as. The train home to Adelaide leaves first thing each morning and they both need to be on it.
DANCING WITH DEMONS Tim Watson-Munro
'Doc' Tim Watson-Munro is famous for his association with the infamous. As Australia's leading criminal psychologist he assessed over 20,000 'persons of interest' in some of the country's most notorious court cases. But the frontline of psychology is not a world for the faint-hearted, and such close proximity to evil wrought a devastating effect on Tim's private life. But his low road provided him with even more insight into the minds of those he assesses. After all, when you're dancing with demons it takes one to know one...
THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS Rebecca Skloot
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells – taken without her knowledge – become one of the most important tools in modern medicine. Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.
Shankari Chandran Twenty years ago an Ebola epidemic brought the world to the edge of oblivion. The West won the war, the East was isolated behind a wall, and a vaccine against Ebola was developed. Peace prevailed. Now Agent Noah Williams is being sent over the barrier to investigate a rogue scientist who risks releasing another plague. In the fight for survival, can our humanity survive too?
Law & Disorder: The Chaotic Birth of the NYPD by Bruce Chadwick ($40, HB)
19th century NYC was one of the most magnificent cities in the world, but also one of the most deadly. The staggering amount of crime threatened to topple a city that was experiencing meteoric growth & striving to become one of the most spectacular in America. Bruce Chadwick examines how rampant violence led to the founding of the first professional police force in NYC, entering into the bloody & violent city, where race relations & an influx of immigrants boiled over into riots, street gangs roved through town with abandon, and thousands of bars, prostitutes & gambling emporiums clogged the streets. The drive to establish law & order and protect the city involved some of NY’s biggest personalities, including mayor Fernando Wood, PC George Walling & journalist Walt Whitman. A must read for fans of NY history and those interested in how the 1st police force, untrained & untested, battled to maintain law & order.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels by Matthew Benns
There are con men you fear & con men you hate, and con men with amazing stories who take your breath away with their dirty tricks & sheer brazen effrontery. How do they get away with it? Matthew Benns gives a rollicking rollcall of all the worst & most outrageous scammers & dodgy dealers in a book that will have you gasping in disbelief at the sheer effrontery of these Aussie crooks & amazed at the gullibility of their victims. Con artists often revel in the image of a larrikin but Benn’s push beneath the veneer to delve into the true nature of the evil these people do and the long lasting damage, emotional and financial, suffered by their victims. ($33, PB)
The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich ($33, PB)
Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working on the retrial defence of death-row convicted murderer and child molester, Ricky Langley, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti death penalty. But the moment Ricky’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes, the moment she hears him speak of his crimes, she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper & deeper into the case, and is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, to reckon with how her own past colours her view of his crime.
First Confession: A Sort of Memoir by Chris Patten
June To-Read List
Chris Patten was a cradle Catholic (hence the title), became one of the most prominent Tory ‘Wets’ of the 1980s & 1990s, and went on to hold a series of prominent public offices—Chairman of the Conservative Party, the last Governor of Hong Kong, European Commissioner for External Affairs, Chancellor of Oxford University, Chairman of the BBC, advisor to the Pope—as he self-deprecatingly puts it ‘a Grand Poo-bah, the Lord High Everything Else’. He writes with wry humour about his time in all these offices, taking us behind the scenes and showing us unexpected sides of many of the great figures of the day. In exploring his own identity he also examines the dangers of identity politics, which he encountered in several of his jobs, from Northern Ireland to Asia & the Middle East. ($50, HB)
A Woman of Substances: A Journey Addiction and Treatment by Jenny Valentish ($33, PB)
Here is a cast of unforgettable characters caught up in the tide of history. Told with a whisper, with a shout, with tears and with laughter.
Meet Jonathan De’Ath, aka ‘the Butcher’. He knows a secret: Colonel Gawain Thomas, husband, father, highly-trained tank commander - is his lover.
Journalist Jenny Valentish investigates the female experience of drugs and alcohol, using her own story to light the way. Her travels around Australia take her to treatment facilities and AA groups. Mining the expertise of leading researchers, she explores the early predictors of addiction, such as childhood trauma & temperament, and teenage impulsivity. Drawing on neuroscience, she explains why other self-destructive behaviours—such as eating disorders, compulsive buying & high-risk sex— are interchangeable with problematic substance use. In a rigorous and brutally honest read Valentish follows the pathways that women, in particular, take into addiction—and out again.
Adult Fantasy: My Search for True Maturity in an Age of Mortgages, Marriages & other Supposedly Adult Milestones by Briohny Doyle ($30, PB)
A scintillating sequence of essays on writers and writing from one of the great minds of our times.
The Captain Class is like no other sports book and is guaranteed to spark endless debate and heated argument among fans of every sport.
The first of the millennials are now in their thirties. Dubbed ‘the Peter Pan generation’, they have been accused of delaying adult milestones. But do marriage, careers, mortgages & babies mean the same thing today that they did 30 years ago? Briohny Doyle turned 30 without a clear idea of what her adult life should look like. A greengrocer with a graduate degree, the world she lived in didn’t match the one her parents described— but she couldn’t help wondering if the so-called adult milestones distract us from other measures of maturity. In a crackling mix of memoir & cultural critique, Doyle explores how societies cultivate ideas about education, work, relationships & ageing. She interrogates the concept of adulthood through the neon buzz of pop culture & the lives of other young adults. In a rapidly-changing world, she asks: what is an adult, and how do you become one?
The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living & Dying by Nina Riggs ($30, PB)
This game-changing book reveals the extraordinary results of focusing on our children’s strengths rather than always trying to correct their weaknesses.
Amal Awad spoke with women in the Arab world and Arab Australian women. The breadth, variety and beauty of what she discovered will surprise you.
In 2015 poet & writer Nina Riggs was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it metastasised later that year. She was 38 years old, married to the love of her life & the mother of two small boys; her mother had died only a few months earlier from multiple myeloma. This is Nina’s intimate, unflinching account of ‘living with death in the room’. She tells her story in a series of absurd, poignant & often hilarious vignettes drawn from a life that has ‘no real future or arc left to it, yet still goes on as if it does’. Riggs goes into the innermost chambers of the writer’s life: into the mind & heart, the work & home & family, of a young woman alternately seeking to make peace with & raging against the reality of her approaching death.
A Forger’s Tale: The Memoir of One of Britain’s Most Successful and Infamous Art Forgers by Shaun Greenhalgh ($33, PB)
In 2007, Bolton Crown Court in the UK sentenced Shaun Greenhalgh to 4 years & 8 months in prison for the crime of producing artistic forgeries. Working out of a shed in his parents’ garden, Greenhalgh had successfully fooled some of the world’s greatest museums. During the court case, the breadth of his forgeries shocked the art world & tantalised the media. What no one realised was how much more of the story there was to tell. Written in prison, A Forger’s Tale details Shaun’s notorious career & the extraordinary circumstances that led to it. From Leonardo drawings to L.S. Lowry paintings, from busts of American presidents to Anglo-Saxon brooches, from cutting-edge Modernism to the ancient art of the Stone Age, Greenhalgh could—and did—copy it all. Told with great wit and charm, Greenhalgh’s love for art saturates every page of this extraordinary memoir.
In a post-apocalyptic future in the harsh Australian outback, an orphan with her own brutal past must decide if what’s left of humanity is worth saving.
A new anthology of essays and previously published and unpublished work by the brilliant evolutionary biologist, author of The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion.
Read more at penguin.com.au
The Mighty Franks: A Memoir by Michael Frank
‘My aunt called our two families the Mighty Franks. But, she said, you and I, Lovey, are a thing apart. The two of us have pulled our wagons up to a secret campsite. We know how lucky we are. We’re the most fortunate people in the world to have found each other, isn’t it so?’Michael Frank’s upbringing was unusual to say the least. His aunt was his father’s sister and his uncle his mother’s brother. The two couples lived blocks apart in the hills of LA, with both grandmothers in an apartment together nearby. Most unusual of all was his aunt, ‘Hankie’: a beauty with violet eyelids and leaves fastened in her hair, a woman who thought that conformity was death, a Hollywood screenwriter spinning seductive fantasies. With no children of her own, Hankie took a particular shine to Michael, taking him on Antiquing excursions, telling him about ‘the very last drop of her innermost self’, holding him in her orbit in unpredictable ways. This love complicated the delicate balance of the wider family and changed Michael’s life forever. ($28, PB)
A Bold & Dangerous Family: The Rossellis and the Fight Against Mussolini by Caroline Moorehead
Mussolini was not only ruthless: he was subtle & manipulative. Black-shirted thugs did his dirty work for him: arson, murder, destruction of homes & offices, bribes, intimidation & the forcible administration of castor oil. His opponents—including editors, publishers, union representatives, lawyers & judges—were beaten into submission. But the tide turned in 1924 when his assassins went too far, horror spread across Italy & 20 years of struggle began. Antifascist resistance was born & it would end only with Mussolini’s death in 1945. Among those whose disgust hardened into bold & uncompromising resistance was a family from Florence: Amelia, Carlo & Nello Rosselli. Caroline Moorehead has drawn on letters & diaries never previously translated into English to reveal a family driven by loyalty, duty & courage, yet susceptible to all the self-doubt & fear that humans are prey to. This is the story of a remarkable family—and their loves, their loyalties, their laughter & their ultimate sacrifice. ($35, PB)
Bluets by Maggie Nelson ($30, HB)
Bluets winds its way through depression, divinity, alcohol & desire, visiting along the way with famous blue figures, including Joni Mitchell, Billie Holiday, Yves Klein, Leonard Cohen & Andy Warhol. While its narrator sets out to construct a sort of ‘pillow book’ about her lifelong obsession with the colour blue, she ends up facing down both the painful end of an affair & the grievous injury of a dear friend. The combination produces a raw, cerebral work devoted to the inextricability of pleasure & pain, and to the question of what role, if any, aesthetic beauty can play in times of great heartache or grief.
I Was Told To Come Alone by Souad Mekhennet
For her whole life, Souad Mekhennet, a reporter for the Washington Post who was born & educated in Germany, has had to balance the two sides of her upbringing—Muslim & Western. She has also sought to provide a mediating voice between these cultures, which too often misunderstand each other. In this memoir, Mekhennet journeys behind the lines of jihad, starting in the German neighbourhoods where the 9/11 plotters were radicalised & the Iraqi neighbourhoods where Sunnis & Shia turned against one another, and culminating on the Turkish/Syrian border region where ISIS is a daily presence. In her travels across the Middle East & North Africa, she documents her chilling run-ins with various intelligence services & shows why the Arab Spring never lived up to its promise. She then returns to Europe, first in London, where she uncovers the identity of the notorious ISIS executioner ‘Jihadi John’, and then in France, Belgium & her native Germany, where terror has come to the heart of Western civilisation. ($33, PB)
Bleaker House: Chasing My Novel to the End of the World by Nell Stevens ($33, PB)
When Nell Stevens was given the opportunity to spend 3 months in a location of her choice in order to write her novel, she was determined to rid herself of all distractions. So she decided to travel to Bleaker Island (official population: two) in the Falklands where she would write 2,500 words a day. But Bleaker House is not that novel. Instead this is a book about a young woman realising that the way to writing fiction doesn’t necessarily lie in total solitude and a clear plan. Nor does it lie in a daily ration of 1085 calories, no means of contacting the outside world and a slow descent towards something that feels worryingly like madness. An exploration of the narrow spaces between real life and fiction and, in the end, a book about failing to write a novel, but finally becoming a writer.
Manderley Forever: A Biography of Daphne du Maurier by Tatiana de Rosnay ($40, HB)
As a bilingual bestselling novelist with a mixed Franco-British bloodline & a host of eminent forebears, Tatiana de Rosnay is the perfect candidate to write a biography of Daphne du Maurier. As a 13 year-old, de Rosnay read & reread Rebecca, becoming a lifelong devotee of Du Maurier’s fiction. In this book she pays homage to the writer who influenced her so deeply, following Du Maurier from a shy 7 year-old to a rebellious 16 year-old, a twenty-something newlywed, and finally, a cantankerous old woman. With a rhythm & intimacy to its prose characteristic of all de Rosnay’s works, Manderley Forever is a vividly compelling portrait and celebration of an intriguing, hugely popular and (in her time) critically underrated writer.
Understory by Inga Simpson ($33, PB) ‘The understorey is where I live, alongside these plants and creatures. I tend the forest, stand at the foot of trees and look up, gather what has fallen.’ This is the story of a tree-change, of escaping suburban Brisbane for a cottage on ten acres in search of a quiet life. Of establishing a writers retreat shortly before the Global Financial Crisis hit, and of losing just about everything when it did. It is also the story of what the author found there: the beauty of nature and her own path as a writer. award-winning author of Mr Wigg, Nest & Where The Trees Were delivers a memoir about staying in one place, told through trees.
A Goddess in the Stones: Travels in Eastern India—Bihar and Orissa by Norman Lewis
Not for Norman Lewis the tourist sights of Delhi and Rajasthan. His travels in India begin in the impoverished, overpopulated & corrupt state of Bihar, scene of a brutal caste war between the untouchables & higher-caste gangsters. From these violent happenings, he heads down the west coast of Bengal & into the highlands of Orissa to testify to the life of the caste-free indigenous ‘tribals’, who have survived here in isolation. There is much to be learned from these threatened cultures & Lewis is the perfect guide. ($30, PB)
On Persephone’s Island: A Sicilian Journal by Mary Taylor Simeti ($30, PB)
American Mary Taylor Simeti arrived in Sicily after college to work as a volunteer on Danilo Dolci’s remarkable social welfare programme, but went on to marry and make her life here. This book chronicles a year in the life of the island: its seasons & its sacred festivals, its almonds& oranges, its demanding family life, its casual assassinations & village feasts, its weather & its people. Written by a fascinated outsider, Simeti also has the intimacy of an insider: wife to a Sicilian, mother to two Sicilian teenagers, gardener, cook & carer for a suspicious mother-in-law.
The Push by Tommy Caldwell ($35, PB) In January 2015 Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson achieved the ‘impossible’. Over three weeks they made their way up the forbidding, 3000-foot-high south-west face of El Capitan. It was a climb that Caldwell, after losing a finger in a domestic accident, had been told he had no hope of achieving. Yet conquering El Capitan represented the end of a difficult recovery from the trauma of being held hostage by rebels during an earlier climbing expedition to Kyrgyzstan. Much more than an account of a single, monumental climb, The Push looks set to join the classics of the genre.
Rooms of One’s Own: 50 Places That Made Literary History by Adrian Mourby ($25, HB)
Adrian Mourby follows his literary heroes around the world, exploring 50 places where great works of literature first saw the light of day. From the Brontes’ Yorkshire Moors to the New York of Truman Capote, Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin to the nowlegendary Edinburgh cafe where J.K. Rowling plotted Harry Potter’s first adventures Mourby explains what the writer was doing there and describes what the visitor can find today of that great moment in literature.
The Other Exile: The Story of Fernao Lopes, St Helena & a Paradise Lost by A. R. Azzam
In 1506 Fernão Lopes, a member of his country’s minor nobility, travelled to Goa in search of honour & wealth. There he converted to Islam, married a Muslim, fought his former countrymen, and was eventually captured—his nose & hands publicly cut off for treachery. Eventually sailing for home, he jumped ship at St. Helena, becoming the island’s first inhabitant, with only a black cockerel for company. News of Lopes reached the King of Portugal. Picked up by a ship sent especially for him, Lopes so impressed the King, and the Pope in Rome, that he was granted one wish. He requested his return to St Helena. At once a historical adventure story & a meditation on solitude, this is a story about redemption in one of the darkest periods in Europe and the tale of the haunting relationship between man and wild nature. ($30, PB)
Cycling’s Strangest Tales by Iain Spragg ($20, PB) This is a quirky and fascinating collection of stories from cycling’s history. Included are stories of Thomas Stevens, the doughty Englishman who circumnavigated the world on a penny farthing, the 1904 Tour de France winner who was disqualified for catching the train, the 1937 Japanese invasion of China spearheaded by 50,000 bicycle-mounted troops, and the man who soared over nine circus elephants on an ordinary yellow bike. The stories come from every corner of the cycling world, whether it’s the open road, the velodrome or the BMX track, this the perfect gift for anyone who’s in love with life on two wheels. The Lost City of Z by David Grann ($20, PB)
Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett was among the last of a legendary breed of British explorers. For years he explored the Amazon and came to believe that its jungle concealed a large, complex civilization, like El Dorado. Obsessed with its discovery, he christened it the City of Z. In 1925, Fawcett headed into the wilderness with his son Jack, vowing to make history. They vanished without a trace. For the next 80 years, hordes of explorers plunged into the jungle, trying to find evidence of Fawcett’s party or Z. Some died from disease and starvation; others simply disappeared. In this spellbinding true tale of lethal obsession, David Grann retraces the footsteps of Fawcett and his followers as he unravels one of the greatest mysteries of exploration.
books for kids to young adults
compiled by Lynndy Bennett, our children's correspondent
Marking the beginning of our winter, June stirs the urge to snuggle somewhere warm, with appropriate provisions, to read away the chill outside. But did you know that ‘Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.’ In less than a minute a day, you could help change that, or help one person read for the first time and share in the pleasure we take for granted. By clicking daily on theliteracysite.greatergood.com/ you can change the world. Simples! Lynndy
for your pre-school pet lovers
Raymond by Yann & Gwendal Le Bec ($25, HB)
Raymond is a good dog, has a nice family, and a really happy life. But one day Raymond has a thought: he’d like to improve his situation, and he decides he may as well do what humans do. Many outings, treats and finally a high powered job follow, until one day, well ... it just gets to be a bit much. Wonderfully clear, expressive pictures extend this amusing story about what a dog’s life really means. The design and production of the book are really notable—this is a handsome book, befitting the very attractive Raymond. Louise
Good Dog: A Dog Breed Primer & Here Kitty, Kitty! A Cat Breed Primer by Dawn DeVries Sokol ($15, BD)
Crammed with different breeds of dogs and cats exercising their personalities, these board books are lively and eye-catching with a mixed-media blend of realism and winsome humorous illustrations. Lynndy
If I had a Little Dream by Nina Laden (ill) Melissa Castrillon ($23, HB)
Storm Whale by Sarah Brennan (ill) Jane Tanner ($25, HB)
This beautiful picture book is hard to describe, written in verse as Best known for her playfully rhymed picture books about each year of the Chinese zodiac, a child’s wish list ‘If I had…’ a land, a house, a garden, a pond, here Sarah Brennan surges into very different territory, collaborating with the wonderful a boat, all the way down to a little dream. Whimsical children’s Jane Tanner in a lyrical, tinglingly realistic picture book about three sisters tending a beached books don’t always work, they can just be too fey for words, whale. Pencil illustrations graduate from grey to full colour, mirroring the intensity of the story and providing texture that engages. In so many ways this book is perfect: both narra- but Melissa Castrillon’s pictures are strong, full of humour and detail, and in a rather tive and art build with drama and contrast, then resolve with a tidal ebb that is wonderfully fabulous, unexpected palette, which make it a delight to read and reread. Surely this satisfying. Storm Whale is sure to be on many future awards lists! Highly recommended for book will be a classic in years to come. Louise age 3+. Lynndy
Amongst the canon of children’s literature are some names very familiar to adult readers, which prompted my indulging in this tangent. In a brief overview of luminaries who have written children’s books are the following, proving it’s never too early to instil in young readers a love of fine writing.
A Trio of Tolerable Tales by Margaret Atwood ($29, HB)
Three rambunctious stories formerly published separately as picture books are collected for the first time into a chapter book riddled with wordplay, humour and adventure.
Jane’s Blanket by Arthur Miller (ill) Al Parker ($19, PB/$40, HB)
In his sole children’s book playwright Arthur Miller narrates the bittersweet nuances between out-growing and growing up through the story of Jane’s childhood experiences, all shared with her beloved security blanket.
Sun Moon Star by Kurt Vonnegut (ill) Ivan Chermayeff ($15, PB)
Taking the baby Jesus’ perspective, and offering beautiful and insightful descriptions of the world from someone newly born into it Vonnegut presents the people most important to Jesus, in a style very different to his mature work. Originally published in 1980, this book is now back in print.
What Can I Be? by Ayn Rand (ill) Ingrid Fiksdahl King
Geometric shapes ponder the possibilities of what they might be, or become. The base shapes are shown in black & white; their imaginings in fully-realised colour, and after each the reader is prompted for further suggestions from the natural or built world. Deceptively simple, yet inviting and inspiring, this is a beautiful object in its own right. ($35, HB)
Artist Kyle Hughes-Odgers to install bespoke windows. Picture book creator and global street-art sensation Kyle Hughes-Odgers will be visiting Gleebooks this June. He’ll be installing a window featuring work from his new book, One Thousand Trees, plus a one-of-a-kind drawing inspired by the book. Kyle began creating artwork on the streets of Australia in the early 2000s before his first solo exhibition in Perth. Invitations to hold exhibitions and create public art across the world soon followed. He has had solo exhibitions in Berlin, Amsterdam, Madrid and Los Angeles and his large-scale murals can be seen in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, London, Sheffield, Hong Kong, Singapore, Madrid, Berlin and Cambodia. Recent work includes From Above, a six-by-eighty-metre exterior painting for the Perth International Airport, and his current commission is to paint the Southern Hemisphere’s largest recycling plant. The environment is a theme close to Kyle’s heart. One Thousand Trees is a timely picture book about greening up your environment and reintroducing kids to the joys of nature play. It’s a beautiful addition to Kyle’s previous four children’s books, which include Can a Skeleton Have an X-ray?, which was one of only two Australian titles on the longlist for Frankfurt Book Fair’s inaugural Global Illustration Award. To meet Kyle visit him in Gleebooks Glebe and Gleebooks Dulwich Hill on June 25th and 26th. Check our website for times.
Chase by Linwood Barclay ($15, PB)
Our narrator Chipper is a very special dog: part of a top-secret, multi-million dollar experiment to create the ultimate canine spy technology, he lives in a secret organization known only as The Institute. Although he is supposedly more technology than living dog, Chipper is faulty and due to be terminated. When he escapes using the very intelligence installed by The Institute, his flight involves 12-year-old orphan Jeff and his friend Emily, thus The Institute’s retrieval plans become far more sinister and ruthless. Danger, secrets and thrilling suspense collide in Linwood Barclay’s action-packed first volume of a series for 9–12 year-olds.
A Long Trip to Teatime by Anthony Burgess (ill) Fulvia Testa ($19, PB)
Edgar longs for an escape from the classroom—which he finds with a sudden plunge through a tiny hole in his desk. Now Edgar is adrift, searching for Edenborough, from whence he must find his way home in time for tea. Like Lewis Carroll’s Alice, Edgar finds himself astray in a wonderland, his bizarre adventures highlighted by gloriously nonsensical conversations with curious creatures. Inventive wordplay, twisted logic and philosophical undertones render Burgess’s children’s book suitable for ages 8–adult.
The Big Bazoohley by Peter Carey (ill) Stephen Michael King ($15, PB)
Pyjama-clad Sam Kellow sleep-walks out of the hotel room in Toronto where he is staying with his parents ... and wakes to find the door firmly closed behind him. Exploring the hotel, Sam encounters adventure, bizarre characters—two of whom kidnap him to enter him in a contest—and impossible mysteries. Interwoven is zany humour that lampoons many social tropes, including eating and beauty competitions. This is a sparkling mix of fantasy, reality and humour. (Alas, this great novel is now print on demand, but we do have a copy in stock at Glebe.)
Food, Health & Garden
Six Months to Change the World by Pierre Dukan
Learn the importance of eating right in the 2nd & 3rd trimester of pregnancy to protect your child’s health. Author of The Dukan Diet, Dr Dukan gives new insights into optimising the development of your unborn baby through nutrition, especially during the latter 6 months of pregnancy. In a world which is plagued by self-inflicted diseases such as diabetes & obesity, it is crucial for mothers to give their babies the best start in life. ($23, PB)
The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi & Fumitake Koga ($25, PB)
An enormous bestseller in Asia, with more than 3 million copies sold, this book demonstrates how to unlock the power within yourself to be the person you truly want to be. Using the theories of Alfred Adler, one of the three giants of 19th century psychology alongside Freud and Jung, this book follows an illuminating conversation between a philosopher and a young man. The philosopher explains to his pupil how each of us is able to determine our own lives, free of the shackles of past experiences, doubts and the expectations of others. It’s a way of thinking that’s deeply liberating, allowing us to develop the courage to change, and to ignore the limitations that we and those around us can place on ourselves.
Resilient Grieving: How to find your way through devastating loss by Dr Lucy Hone ($23, PB) Dr Lucy Hone works in the field of resilience psychology, helping ordinary people exposed to real-life traumatic situations. When faced with the incomprehensible fact of her daughter’s tragic death Lucy knew that she was fighting for the survival of her sanity & her family unit. She used her practice to develop ways to support her family in their darkest days, and to find a new way of living without Abi. Hone’s metaphor for life after loss is both powerful & apt: Think of it as a scattered jigsaw puzzle, where the pieces of one’s former life have been scattered & now must be reconfigured in a new way.
The Wine Dine Dictionary: An A–Z of Suggestions for Happy Eating & Drinking by Victoria Moore Want to pick the perfect wine for dinner? Wondering what to eat with a special bottle? Let The Wine Dine Dictionary be your guide. Arranged A–Z by food at one end & A–Z by wine at the other, this unique handbook will help you make more informed, more creative & more delicious choices about what to eat & drink. As one of the country’s most popular & influential wine journalists, as well as an expert in the psychology of smell & taste, Victoria Moore doesn’t just explain what goes with what, but why & how the combination works. ($40, HB)
The Good Carbs Cookbook by Dr Alan Barclay, Kate McGhie & Philippa Sandall ($40, PB)
This book helps you choose the best fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, seeds, nuts & grains & explains how to use them in 100 refreshingly nourishing recipes to enjoy every day, for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner & dessert. The recipes have short ingredients lists, are easy to prepare, quick to cook, long in flavour & full of sustaining goodness, so you feel fuller for longer. There is a nutritional analysis for each recipe & there are tips & helpful hints for the novice, nervous, curious or time-starved cook.
What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses by Daniel Chamovitz ($30, PB)
How does a Venus flytrap know when to snap shut? Can a fern get jet lag? Do roses remember the romance springtime? Renowned biologist Daniel Chamovitz presents a beguiling exploration of how plants experience our shared Earth—in terms of sight, smell, touch, hearing, memory, and even awareness. Combining cuttingedge research with lively storytelling, he explains the intimate details of plant behaviour, from how a willow tree knows when its neighbours have been commandeered by an army of ravenous beetles, and why an avocado ripens when you give it the company of a banana in a bag (it’s the pheromones). And he settles the debate over whether the beloved basil on your kitchen windowsill cares whether you play Led Zeppelin or Bach.
In Pursuit of Memory by Joseph Jebelli ($33, PB)
When Joseph Jebelli was 12, his beloved grandfather began to act very strangely. It started with inexplicable walks, and gradually his bright smiles were replaced by a fearful, withdrawn expression. Before long, he didn’t recognise his family any more. Dr Jebelli explores the past, present & future of Alzheimer’s disease starting from the first recorded case more than 100 years ago right up to the cutting-edge research being done today. He meets with expert scientists from around the world—but also with the incredibly brave patients & families who have changed the way scientists think about Alzheimer’s, unveiling a pandemic that took us centuries to track down, and above all, reminding everyone never to take memory—our most prized possession—for granted.
So French So Sweet: Delectable Cakes, Tarts, Crèmes and Desserts by Gabriel Gaté ($30, HB)
This is Gabriel Gatés love letter to pâtisserie, baking & sweet treats. An irresistible collection of French classics & Gatés most treasured sweet recipes, it brings together exquisite cakes & tarts, refreshing sorbets & fruity desserts, scrumptious ice creams, mousses & crèmes & heavenly warm desserts. With a focus on fresh seasonal ingredients & home-style cooking, Gaté shows just how simple it is to create delightful treats for everyone to enjoy.
The Garden Apothecary by Reece Carter
Herb Nerd Reece Carter shows you how to grow & make your own gentle herbal remedies, taking you right through from growing your own plants to concocting your own tinctures & ointments. Using 40 of his favourite recipes, he shows how you can use organic raw ingredients to relieve a wide range of everyday ailments, naturally: boost your immunity and fight flus and colds, relieve stress and sleep issues, improve your digestion and gut health, increase your vitality and libido, and resolve skin and beauty problems. ($40, PB)
The Clever Guts Diet by Michael Mosley ($30, PB)
One Pan Roasts by Molly Shuster ($35, HB)
Dr Mosley takes a revelatory journey through the gut, showing how junk food & overuse of antibiotics have wiped out many ‘good’ gut bacteria, leading to a modern plague of allergies, food intolerances & obesity. Setting the record straight on everything from prebiotics to probiotics, fermented foods to fasting, Dr Mosley provides scientifically proven ways to control your appetite & boost your mood. His book is packed with delicious, healing recipes, menu plans, checklists & tips—all the tools you need to transform your gut and change the way you eat forever.
Sri Lanka: The Cookbook by Prakash K. Sivanathan ($40, HB)
Find 140 inspiring recipes and insightful tips to make your pulses, roots, vegetables and greens dazzle in their own right. Think of garlic oil pea shoots, smoky ratatouille, celeriac baked in a salt and thyme crust, carrots with brown butter and hazelnuts, spelt grains with wild mushrooms, and chorizo roast potatoes. Complete with a recipe directory that will help you find the perfect accompaniment, whatever you’re cooking.
One Pan Roasts features 80 incredibly simple recipes for meat, poultry, seafood & vegetarian meals, all cooked slowly in the oven & flavoured with herbs, spices & aromatics. There are also recipes for pilaf, quinoa, couscous & roasted vegetables to complete the meal, plus a chapter of delicious one-pan desserts, such as Cherry clafoutis, Peach tart & Pineapple roasted with vanilla, cinnamon & star anise.
Feather-light hoppers, fiery sambols, subtly spiced curries and unique ‘vada’ (fried snacks) come together in this definitive collection of Sri Lanka’s most authentic & vibrant recipes. As well as absorbing influences from India, the Middle East, Far East Asia & myriad European invaders, Sri Lanka also has strong Singhalese & Tamil cooking traditions—dig into 100 recipes that celebrate the island’s wonderful ingredients, from okra & jackfruit to coconut & chillies, and explore its culture through original travel photography of the country, its kitchens & its people.
New from the Australian Women’s Weekly Fast Favourite Dinners, $35 Fast Desserts, $14.95 Fast Pasta, $14.95
On the Side: A Sourcebook of Inspiring Side Dishes by Ed Smith ($40, HB)
Wild Fermentation: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Cultural Manipulation by Sandor Ellix Katz
A classic beginner’s guide to basic home fermentation of just about anything, this book is a great resource by one of the world’s foremost experts on the topic. Includes easy to read & inspiring instructions to get you started making anything fermentable, from bread to cheese to yogurt to kimchi to miso to injera to beer to even chocolate—in the comfort of your own home. ($10, PB)
SugarDetoxMe: 100+ Recipes to Curb Cravings and Take Back Your Health by Summer Oakes
Overcome your sugar cravings & restore your health with delicious meals from an egg, sunny side up, over cauliflower & bacon with potato hash to a memorable dinner of seared scallops over marinated mushrooms, corn mash & red sorrel. ($38, HB)
s Eve nt ar d n e Cal
Coming in June Event: Thursday 13th—Cartoonist Judy Horac Random Life In conv. with Fiona Katauskas Launch: Friday 14th— John Matthews The Global Green Shift Launcher: Bob Carr Also Mark Butler (Climate Wars), and Richard Walsh (Reboot: A democracy makeover to em Australia’s voters) dates to be confirmed
Remember! get free Join the Gleeclub and our shops, entry to events held at every pur10%credit accrued with livered to chase, and the Gleaner de your door every month.
4 Free Event—11.30 for 12 Sally Rippin
Polly and Buster AUTHOR TALK Sally Rippin is the author of over 50 books for young readers, including the best-selling Billie B Brown early reader series and the Hey Jack! series. Her new series Polly and Buster is accompanied by her own enchanting illustrations.
Event—6 for 6.30 Laura Tingle
In Search of Good Government in conv. with Ross Gittins What has happened to good government? When leaders surf the wave of discontentment all the way to power, how do they deal with our great expectations? Laura Tingle’s calm, perceptive analysis seeks answers to these questions.
Is Racism an Envir Launchers: Rand Tess Lea & J Ghassan Hage pr racism & our des ship with the envir cupying force imp est as law, subord the extraction of what gets i
rget the Don’t fo Literacy ous Indigen dation Foun on CTION ART AU ay 22nd Thursd r details. e 2 fo see pag
20 Event—6 for 6.30 Louise Milligan
Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell The nation’s most prominent Catholic, George Pell is now the subject of a police investigation into allegations spanning decades that he too abused children. Louise Milligan pieces together a series of disturbing pictures of the Cardinal’s knowledge and his actions.
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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
ronmental Threat? da Abdel-Fattah, Jamie Parker roposes that both structive relationronment are an ocposes its own interdinating others for value, eradicating in the way.
Event—6 for 6.30 Chloe Shorten
The Green Bell Launcher: John Blay It’s 1972 in Canberra. Michael Dransfield is being treated for a drug addiction; Paula Keogh is delusional and grief-stricken. They meet in a psychiatric unit of the Canberra Hospital and instantly fall in love. A requiem for lost friends. A coming of age story that takes a lifetime.
Event—6 for 6.30
17 Launch—3.30 for 4
Anisa Puri & Alistair Thomson Australian Lives Launchers: Lisa Murray 50 oral histories illuminate Australian life across the 20th & into the 21st century: how Australian people have been shaped by the forces and expectations of contemporary history and how, in turn, they have made their lives and created Australian society.
24 Launch—3.30 for 4
QE 66: On the Climate Deadlock The Great Barrier Reef is dying. Extreme weather is becoming all too familiar. And the Coalition government is divided and paralysed. In this vivid, urgent essay, Anna Krien explores the psychology and politics of a warming world.
Deborah Bird Rose, Thom van Dooren & Matthew Chrulew
10 Launch—3.30 for 4
Take Heart: A Story for Modern Stepfamilies in conv. with Julia Baird Chloe Shorten tells of her own quest to create a new normal. Honest, sincere and warm hearted, this is a story of the modern household and explores the idea of who qualifies as ‘a family’ in the 21st century.
Launch—3.30 for 4
Extinction Studies: Stories of Time, Death and Generations Launcher: Jane Ulman This book explores the ways in which extinction catastrophically interrupts life-giving processes of time, death, and generations.
—6 for 6.30 an Hage
30 Launch—6 for 6.30
As The Lonely Fly Launcher: Lyndall Ryan 3 Russian-Jewish women take 3 very different paths after the fall of the tsar in an epic story of persecution, migration & dispersal during tumultuous events of the 20th Century— shining a light on the intertwined fates of Jews & Palestinians—with deep contemporary resonance.
A Reluctant Warrior A Reluctant Warrior, the new gripping novel from Kelly Brooke Nicholls takes readers where few have ventured; deep into the current Colombian drug wars. Fans of Netflix hit series, Narcos, will love this edge of your seat novel set in the drug-gang controlled streets of Buenaventura.
Granny’s Good Reads with Sonia Lee
I’ve just read a delightful collection of letters of Dymphna Cusack, Florence James and Miles Franklin. In Yarn Spinners editor Marilla North has assembled letters with biographical links, cameos of people mentioned, a chronology, photographs and endnotes, making a biography of great immediacy and interest. She calls her method of telling Cusack’s life story ‘narrative biography’. North has spent almost three decades researching and writing this book and there are to be two followup volumes. Miles Franklin is a household name but I wonder how many know Cusack and James, who jointly authored Come in Spinner, a novel about young women in a hairdressing salon in a big hotel in war-time Sydney. The hotel was a stamping ground for American soldiers, ‘overpaid, oversexed and over here’. I well remember Come in Spinner, which landed like a depth charge in 1951 in buttoned-up Australia, at a time when Ulysses, Lady Chatterley’s Lover and even Childbirth Without Pain were banned and the author of Love Me Sailor was gaoled for obscenity. A novel full of salty language and an incident where young Monnie is tricked by so-called friends and ends up in a brothel, must have turned the Chief Censor’s ear-lobes puce. No Australian outfit would publish it, even though the manuscript won a £1,000 prize from the Sydney Daily Telegraph in 1948—so Cusack joined James in London, where Heinemann published it and several of her subsequent novels. Come in Spinner went on to sell a million copies and is still in print. It also later became a successful TV series. James worked for Constable and Co and her two talented daughters were given a good education in London. Cusack had a prodigious output including plays as well as novels though she suffered all her life from multiple sclerosis, which sent her and partner Norman Freehill to the South of France in the English winters. Cusack’s Newcastle novel Southern Steel is well worth reading, as is Caddie: Autobiography of a Sydney Barmaid, written in collaboration with Mrs Catherine Elliott, the barmaid of the title. There was also a successful film version of this memoir starring Helen Morse. Yarn Spinners is a beautifully produced book with copious information and pen portraits as well as the captivating letters. If you are wondering why so many members of the working class voted for Donald Trump, read Listen Liberal or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People? by Thomas Frank. This book was written while Obama was president, but Frank could see the way the wind was blowing. The Democrats, he says, have deserted the working class for the professional class and give the impression that if workers don’t work hard at school and get to a good college they can’t expect to get a living wage. Bernie Sanders struck a chord with young voters because he was fighting for the soul of the Democrats, trying to bring the party back to its working class roots. Bill Clinton had enacted NAFTA, which sent American jobs to Mexico, as well as bank deregulation, which led to the global financial crisis of 2008. Small wonder, then, that Hillary Clinton lost, even against a politically inexperienced candidate like Trump. Frank urges the Democrats to get back to the principles of Roosevelt’s New Deal, or else they will stay in the wilderness for years, waiting for the Republicans to mess up so badly that the working class will return to their traditional protectors. The Australian Labor Party should find much of interest in this book.
I am always delighted when a new Elly Griffiths novel comes out because Dr Ruth Galloway, DCI Harry Nelson and the others feel like old, well-loved friends. Ruth’s daughter Kate is now six and acting as Alice in Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, and Nelson’s daughter Laura is back home again. Nelson is conflicted about whether to tell Laura that Kate is his daughter, especially as the attraction between him and Ruth is still bubbling along nicely. The Chalk Pit begins with the discovery of human bones in a tunnel under Norwich. A woman, one of the ‘rough sleepers’, disappears and two other street people are murdered. Rumours spread of a community of rough sleepers living in a network of old chalk-mining tunnels under the city. The plot thickens when Ruth discovers that the bones are not medieval but recent and she suspects that cannibalism may have been involved. Then a mother of four disappears and the police are pressured by the new Superintendent, called She Who Must be Obeyed, to find her quickly and also catch the murderer of ‘Aftershave Eddie’ and ‘Bilbo’. Griffiths always has suspenseful plots and this one is a real nailbiter. The ending made me gasp and left me with a To Be Continued feeling, so I hope it’s not too long before Elly’s next novel appears. Sonia
QE66: Anna Krien on the Climate Deadlock
In this vivid, urgent essay, Anna Krien explores the psychology and politics of a warming world. She visits frontlines in Australia’s climate wars—the Great Barrier Reef, the Hunter Valley, the Coalition party room. She looks at the global state of play. Talking to coal workers and scientists, lobbyists and activists, she considers where climate change is taking us, and assesses where effective action is to be found. ($23, PB)
A Historian for All Seasons: Essays for Geoffrey Bolton (eds) Stuart Macintyre et al ($39.95, PB)
Geoffrey Bolton was the most versatile and widely travelled of his generation of Australian historians. As a scholar, teacher and commentator he enriched understanding of the country’s regional mosaic, some of its notable figures & others who were just as revealing, the natural environment, social patterns & political life. He was also unflagging in his encouragement of others. The contributors to this volume take his work as a departure point for original essays on a variety of themes in Australian history. Contributors include Stuart Macintyre, Jenny Gregory, Lenore Layman, Carol Bolton, Mark McKenna, Graeme Davison, Carl Bridge, Alan Atkinson, Andrew Gaynor, Tom Griffiths, Tim Rowse, Lizzy Watt, Mary Anne Jebb & Pat Jalland.
Beautiful Balts: From displaced persons to new Australians by Jayne Persian ($40, PB)
170,000 Displaced Persons arrived in Australia between 1947 and 1952—the first non-Anglo-Celtic mass migrants. Australia’s first immigration minister, Arthur Calwell, scoured post-war Europe for refugees, Displaced Persons he characterised as ‘Beautiful Balts’. Amid the hierarchies of the White Australia Policy, the tensions of the Cold War & the national need for labour, these people would transform not only Australia’s immigration policy, but the country itself. Jayne Persian tells the extraordinary story of these Displaced Persons. She traces their journey from the chaotic camps of Europe after WWII to a new life in a land of opportunity where prejudice, parochialism & strident anti-communism were rife. Drawing from archives, oral history interviews & literature generated by the Displaced Persons themselves, Persian investigates who they really were, why Australia wanted them & what they experienced.
Now in paperback: Paul Keating: The Big-Picture Leader by Troy Bramston, $40 The Secret Codebreakers of Central Bureau: How Australia’s Signal’s-Intelligence Network Shortened the Pacific War by David Dufty ($50, HB)
David Dufty reveals how Australians built a large & sophisticated intelligence network from scratch, how Australian code-breakers cracked Japanese army & air force codes, & how the code-breakers played a vital role in the battles of Midway, Milne Bay, the Coral Sea, Hollandia & Leyte. He also reveals Australian involvement in the shooting down of Admiral Yamamoto near Bougainville in 1943, and how on 14 August 1945, following Japan’s offer of surrender, an Australian intelligence officer established the Allies’ first direct radio contact with Japan since the war had begun. This is a rich historical account of a secret and little-understood side of the war—the story of Australia’s version of Bletchley Park, of talented & dedicated individuals who significantly influenced the course of the Pacific War.
Scorched Earth: Australia’s secret plan for total war under Japanese invasion in World War II by Sue Rosen ($33, PB)
In 1942 the threat of Japanese invasion hung over Australia. The men were away overseas, fighting on other fronts, and civilians were left unprotected at home. Following the attack on Pearl Harbour & the Japanese advance south, PM Curtin ordered state governments to prepare. From January 1942, a team frantically pulled together secret plans for a ‘scorched earth’ strategy. The goal was to prevent the Japanese from seizing resources for their war machine as they landed, and capturing Australians as slaves as they had done in Malaya & elsewhere in Asia. From draining domestic water tanks to sinking dinghies & burning crops, from training special citizen squads to evacuating coastal towns, ‘Total war, total citizen collaboration’ was the motto. After the war these top secret plans were forgotten. This is the first time they have ever been made public.
The Dystopia in the Desert. The silent culture of Australia’s remotest Aboriginal communities by Tadhgh Purtill
The Ngaanyatjarra Lands, deep in Western Australia, are home to the country’s most remote Aboriginal communities. Beset by social problems, the communities and their residents are detached from mainstream Australia by factors of distance and culture. But the Ngaanyatjarra region remains obscure for other reasons. Its peculiar operational culture, which arises from the curious relationship between community members and whitefella staff, has become almost impossible for mainstream Australians—including bureaucrats and academics—to understand. This study, written by a former community manager, is the first of its kind. It lays bare the strange ways of the Ngaanyatjarra region. It takes in psychological, economic, political and anthropological aspects of the community system, and reveals a self-sustaining and possibly unreformable situation. The region, the author claims, has surpassed the merely ‘dysfunctional’: it has become a disturbing independent society, characterised by a negative coherency and a dystopian functionality. This is an in-depth look at the odd and alternative world of Australia’s Western Desert. ($44, PB)
Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power by Noam Chomsky ($33, PB)
‘During the Great Depression, things were much worse than they are today, but there was an expectation that things were going to get better. There was a real sense of hopefulness. There isn’t today. Inequality is really unprecedented. In terms of total inequality, it’s like the worst periods in American history. But if you refine it more closely, the inequality comes from the extreme wealth in a tiny sector of the population, a fraction of 1 percent. Not only is it extremely unjust in itself, inequality has highly negative consequences on the society as a whole because the very fact of inequality has a corrosive, harmful effect on democracy.’ This is not an essay collection but an entire work of some 70,000 words based on four years of interviews with Chomsky by the editors. Chomsky considers these to be his final, long-form documentary interviews.
Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden & the Surveillance State by Barton Gellman ($60, HB)
Barton Gellman’s informant called himself ‘Verax’—the truth-teller, only later unmasking himself as Edward Snowden. Gellman’s primary role in bringing Snowden’s revelations to light, for which he shared the Pulitzer prize, is only the beginning of this gripping real-life spy story. Snowden unlocked the door: here Gellman describes what he found on the other side over the course of a years-long journey of investigation. It is also the story of his own escalating battle against unknown digital adversaries after he discovered his own name on a file in the NSA document trove and realised that he himself was under attack. Through a gripping narrative of paranoia, clandestine operations and jaw-dropping revelations, Dark Mirror delineates in full for the first time the hidden superstructure that connects government espionage with Silicon Valley & the most powerful corporation whose name you’ve never heard. Who is spying on us & why? Here are the answers.
Blood and Silk: Power & Conflict in Modern South East Asia by Michael Vatikiotis ($33, PB)
Peering beyond brand new shopping malls & shiny glass towers in Bangkok & Jakarta, this book probes the heart of modern Southeast Asia. Why are the region’s richest countries such as Malaysia riddled with corruption? Why do Myanmar, Thailand & the Philippines harbour unresolved violent insurgencies? How do deepening religious divisions in Indonesia & Malaysia& China’s growing influence affect the region & the rest of the world? Using vivid portraits of the personalities who pull the strings, mixed with revealing analysis that is underpinned by decades of experience in the countries involved, from their silk-sheathed salons to blood-spattered streets, Vatikiotis delivers a fascinating study of the dynamics of power & conflict in one of the world’s fastest growing regions.
Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses & Citizens Can Save the Planet by Bloomberg & Pope ($40, HB)
Carl Bloomberg & Michael Pope offer an optimistic look at the challenge of climate change, the solutions they believe hold the greatest promise, and the practical steps that are necessary to achieve them. Writing from their own experiences, and sharing their own stories from government, business & advocacy, Bloomberg & Pope provide a road map for tackling the most complicated challenge the world has ever faced. Along the way, they turn the usual way of thinking about climate change on its head: from top down to bottom up, from partisan to pragmatic, from costs to benefits, from tomorrow to today, and from fear to hope. They explore climate change solutions that will make the world healthier & more prosperous. They aim to begin a new type of conversation on the issue that will spur bolder action by cities, businesses, and citizens—and even, someday, by Washington.
Ten Myths About Israel by Ilan Pappe ($20, PB) Ilan Pappe examines ten of the most contested ideas concerning the origins & identity of the contemporary state of Israel. He explodes the myths that justify the rights of the Israeli state, including: Was Palestine an empty land at the time of the Balfour Declaration? Were the Jews a people without a land? Is there no difference between Zionism & Judaism? Is Zionism not a colonial project of occupation? Did the Palestinians leave their Homeland voluntarily in 1948? Was the June 1967 War a war of ‘No Choice’? Is Israel the only democracy in the Middle East? Were the failed Oslo negotiations of 1992 the PLO’s fault? Was it a question of national security to bomb Gaza? Is the Two States Solution still achievable? All Measures Short of War by Thomas Wright
The two decades after the Cold War saw unprecedented cooperation between the major powers as the world converged on a model of liberal international order. Now, great power competition is back and the liberal order is in jeopardy. Russia and China are increasingly revisionist in their regions. The Middle East appears to be unravelling. And many Americans question why the United States ought to lead. What will great power competition look like in the decades ahead? Will the liberal world order survive? What impact will geopolitics have on globalization? Thomas Wright explains how major powers will compete fiercely even as they try to avoid war with each other. Wright outlines a new American strategy—Responsible Competition—to navigate these challenges & strengthen the liberal order. ($45, HB)
The Trial of Adolf Hitler: The Beer Hall Putsch and the Rise of Nazi Germany by David King
16 years before WW2, Adolf Hitler had already begun his plan to take over the world. With the help of 9 close conspirators & a few hundred followers, he staged his first attempt at an overthrow of the German government in the so called ‘Beer Hall Putsch. The attempt was far from a triumph. Cuffed and behind bars, Hitler and his accomplices found themselves accused of high treason—facing deportation, or worse, life in prison. But things did not go as the prosecution had planned and, instead of being cowed, Hitler turned the trial into the single greatest opportunity of his life. Frustrating the prosecution & deftly enforcing his position under the eye of a sympathetic judge, Hitler’s flamboyant rhetoric, combined with his timely populist message, would win him many admirers in the courtroom and in the media alike. Drawing on the original court transcripts and hundreds of other documents, David King gives a gripping account of the trial’s drama, intrigue & significance. ($33, PB)
Civil Wars: A History in Ideas by David Armitage ($45, HB)
We think we know civil war when we see it. Yet ideas of what it is, and isn’t, have a long and contested history. Defining the term is acutely political, for ideas about what makes a war ‘civil’ often depend on whether one is ruler or rebel, victor or vanquished, sufferer or outsider; it can also shape a conflict’s outcome, determining whether external powers are involved or stand aside. From the American Revolution to the Iraq war, pivotal decisions have hung on such shifts of perspective. The West’s age of civil war may be over, but elsewhere it has exploded—from the Balkans to Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Sri Lanka and, most recently, Syria. And the language of civil war has burgeoned as democratic politics has become more violently fought. This book’s unique perspective on the roots, dynamics and shaping force of civil war, from ancient Rome to our present conflict-ridden world, is an essential discussion for our ongoing struggles with this seemingly interminable problem.
The Middle Ages by Johannes Fried ($60, PB) Since the 15th century, when humanist writers began to speak of a ‘middle’ period in history linking their time to the ancient world, the nature of the Middle Ages has been widely debated. Across the millennium from 500 to 1500, distinguished historian Johannes Fried describes a dynamic confluence of political, social, religious, economic & scientific developments that draws a guiding thread through the era: the growth of a culture of reason. ‘Reads like a counterblast to the hot air of the liberalhumanist interpreters of European history...[Fried] does justice both to the centrifugal fragmentation of the European region into monarchies, cities, republics, heresies, trade & craft associations, vernacular literatures, and to the persistence of unifying & homogenizing forces: the papacy, the Western Empire, the schools, the friars, the civil lawyers, the bankers, the Crusades ... covering the whole medieval continent in flux.’—Eric Christiansen, NYRB Café Neandertal: Excavating Our Past in One of Europe’s Most Ancient Places by Beebe Bahrami ($40, HB)
Centred in the Dordogne region of southwestern France, one of Europe’s most concentrated regions for Neandertal & early modern human occupations, writer Beebe Bahrami follows & participates in the work of archaeologists who are doing some of the most comprehensive & global work to date on the research, exploration & recovery of our ancient ancestors. Bahrami follows this compelling riddle along a path populated with colourful local personalities & opinionated, polemical & brilliant archaeologists working in remote places across Eurasia, all the while maintaining a firm foothold in the Dordogne, a region celebrated by the local tourist office as a vacation destination for 400,000 years. From this prehistoric perch Bahrami gets to know first-hand the Neandertals & the people who love them—those who have devoted their lives to them. She is thrown into a world debating not only what happened to these close cousins but also what legacy they have left for those who followed.
After Piketty : The Agenda for Economics and Inequality (eds) Heather Boushey et al ($63, HB)
Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is the most widely discussed work of economics in recent history, selling millions of copies in dozens of languages. But are its analyses of inequality and economic growth on target? Where should researchers go from here in exploring the ideas Piketty pushed to the forefront of global conversation? A cast of economists and other social scientists tackle these questions in dialogue with Piketty. The book opens with a discussion by Arthur Goldhammer, the book’s translator, of the reasons for Capital’s phenomenal success, followed by the published reviews of Nobel laureates Paul Krugman and Robert Solow. Other contributors include Suresh Naidu, Laura Tyson and Michael Spence, Heather Boushey, Branko Milanovic, and Emmanuel Saez.
Science & Nature
The Matter of the Heart: A History of the Heart in Eleven Operations by Thomas Morris ($35, PB)
For thousands of years the human heart remained the deepest of mysteries; both home to the soul & an organ too complex to touch, let alone operate on. Then, in the late 19th century, medics began going where no one had dared go before, and the following decades saw the mysteries of the heart exposed. In 11 landmark operations, Thomas Morris tells the stories of triumph, reckless bravery, swaggering arrogance, jealousy & rivalry, and incredible ingenuity—from the trail-blazing ‘blue baby’ procedure that transformed wheezing infants into pink, healthy children to the first human heart transplant, which made headline news around the globe. And yet the heart still feels sacred: just before the operation to fit one of the first artificial hearts, the patient’s wife asked the surgeon if he would still be able to love her.
The Flower Hunter: Ellis Rowan by Patricia Fullerton ($15, PB)
fter the Japanese invasion of Burma in late 1941,
11-year old Colin McPhedran was forced to flee on foot, across the steep Patkoi Mountain Ranges, to safety in India. This autobiography recalls McPhedran’s pre-war childhood as part of a large Anglo-Burmese family, the Japanese invasion and his extraordinary trek to freedom. This rerelease of the bestselling Australian classic, includes a new foreword and afterword by Ian McPhedran and Verona Burgess.
ndividual and colourful, thoughtful and rigorous, this
extraordinary book asks big questions about philosophy, doctrine and religious practice, while also looking at smaller, everyday moments of grace and meaning through a series of beautiful and personal portraits. In The Tempest-Tossed Church award-winning author and critic Gerard Windsor grapples with the existence and nature of God,
and winds down with the grubby present realities – the factions within current Catholicism, scandal, sexual abuse, argument and bigotry.
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Ellis Rowan—painter, naturalist, writer and explorer— was an extraordinary woman for her era. Petite, plucky and always immaculately dressed, for almost 50 years she travelled to the remote parts of Australia, India, Europe, America and New Guinea in pursuit of exotic flowers and wildlife to paint. Over 3000 works testify to her prodigious output.
Topsy-Turvy World: How Australian Animals Puzzled Early Explorers by Kirsty Murray
To the first Europeans who came to Australia, everything seemed topsy turvy. Christmas was in the summer & trees shed their bark but not their leaves. And the animals were bizarre. They had never seen anything like these animals before & gave them names similar to those of the European creatures they already knew. They drew &painted odd pictures of them, showing they did not understand the animals’ habits. In one illustration, a wombat is standing on its back legs & in another a Tasmanian tiger wrestles with a platypus of the same size. ($15, HB)
Anaesthesia: The Gift of Oblivion & the Mystery of Consciousness by Kate Cole-Adams ($33, PB)
170 years ago many people would have chosen to die rather than undergo the ordeal of surgery. Today, even major operations are routine. Anaesthesia has made them possible. But how much do we really know about what happens when we go under? Can we hear what’s going on around us? Is pain still pain if we are not awake to feel it, or don’t remember it afterwards? How does the unconscious mind deal with the body’s experience of being cut open & ransacked? And what happens to those rare patients who wake up under the knife? Haunting, lyrical, sometimes shattering, Anaesthesia leavens science with personal experience—and brings an intensely human curiosity to the unknowable realm beyond consciousness.
Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist by Richard Dawkins ($35, PB) This is a kaleidoscopic argument for the power & glory of science: the wonder of scientific discovery; the practical necessity of scientific endeavour to society; and the importance of the scientific way of thinking—particularly in today’s ‘post-truth’ world. With an introduction & new commentary by the author in dialogue with himself across the years, the essays, journalism, lectures & letters gathered here range over subjects from evolution & Darwinian natural selection to the role of scientist as prophet, whether science is itself a religion, the probability of alien life in other worlds, and the beauties, cruelties & oddities of earthly life in this one.
Scienceblind: Why Our Intuitive Theories about the World Are So Often Wrong by Andrew Shtulman
Humans are born to create theories about the world—unfortunately, they’re usually wrong, and keep us from understanding the world as it really is. Why do we catch colds? What causes seasons to change? And if you fire a bullet from a gun & drop one from your hand, which bullet hits the ground first? We almost always get these questions wrong, and worse, we regularly misconstrue fundamental qualities of the world around us. Cognitive & developmental psychologist Andrew Shtulman shows that the root of our misconceptions lies in the theories about the world we develop as children. They’re not only wrong, they close our minds to ideas inconsistent with them, making us unable to learn science later in life. We need to dismantle our intuitive theories & rebuild our knowledge from its foundations—creating a truer picture of the world, and clearer solutions to many controversies—around vaccines, climate change, or evolution—that plague our politics today. ($54, HB) Now in B Format
A Day in the Life of the Human Brain by Susan Greenfield, $25 Reality Is Not What It Seems by Carlo Rovelli, $25 The Most Perfect Thing: Inside (and Outside) a Bird’s Egg by Tim Birkhead, $22
Philosophy & Religion
One Another’s Equals: The Basis of Human Equality by Jeremy Waldron ($60, HB)
An enduring theme of Western philosophy is that we are all one another’s equals. But what does this mean? Does this distinguish humans from other animals? What is human equality based on? Is it a religious idea, or a matter of human rights? Is there some essential feature that all human beings have in common? In a subtle & multifaceted account of the basis for the West’s commitment to human equality, Jeremy Waldron argues that there is no single characteristic that serves as the basis of equality. He says the case for moral equality rests on four capacities that all humans have the potential to possess in some degree: reason, autonomy, moral agency, and the ability to love. But how should we regard the differences that people display on these various dimensions? And what are we to say about those who suffer from profound disability—people whose claim to humanity seems to outstrip any particular capacities they have along these lines?
The Koran in English: A Biography by Bruce B. Lawrence ($55, HB)
For millions of Muslims, the Qur’an is sacred only in Arabic—the original Arabic in which it was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century; to many Arab & non-Arab believers alike, the book literally defies translation. Bruce Lawrence explores this translation saga—recounting the first translation of the book into Latin by a nonMuslim: Robert of Ketton’s 12th century version which paved the way for later ones in German & French, but it was not until the 18th century that George Sale’s influential English version appeared. Lawrence explains how many of these early translations, while part of a Christian agenda to ‘know the enemy’, often revealed grudging respect for their Abrahamic rival. British expansion in the modern era produced an anomaly: fresh English translation—from the original Arabic—not by Arabs or non-Muslims but by South Asian Muslim scholars— now there are cyber Korans, versions by feminist translators & a graphic Koran.
The Art of Losing Control: A Philosopher’s Search for Ecstatic Experience by Jules Evans ($30, PB)
Jules Evans is lying at the bottom of a mountain after a skiing accident. But he’s not thinking about his broken femur. He’s having an ecstatic revelation. Evans’ brush with ecstasy leads him on an investigation: why have we been happy to accept Greek philosophy’s attitude that rationality is the highest part of human nature for so many centuries, when we are capable of so many more states of experience? On his way, Jules discovers that by mastering the art of losing control, we can liberate ourselves from toxic habits & lead a better, deeper life. Balancing personal narrative, interviews, and readings from ancient & modern philosophers, this is a fascinating guide to the different ways we can experience ecstasy & how it can motivate us.
War: An Enquiry by A. C. Grayling ($38, HB)
For residents of the 21st century, a vision of a future without warfare is almost inconceivable. Though wars are terrible and destructive, they also seem unavoidable. A. C. Grayling examines, tests & challenges the concept of war. He proposes that a deeper, more accurate understanding of war may enable us to reduce its frequency, mitigate its horrors, and lessen the burden of its consequences. Grayling explores the long, tragic history of war & how warfare has changed in response to technological advances. He probes much-debated theories concerning the causes of war & considers positive changes that may result from war. How might these results be achieved without violence? In conclusion, Grayling envisions ‘just war theory’ in new moral terms, taking into account the lessons of WWII and the Holocaust & laying down ethical principles for going to war & for conduct during war.
Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School by Stuart Jeffries ($39, HB)
In 1923, a group of young radical German thinkers & intellectuals came together to at Victoria Alle 7, Frankfurt, determined to explain the workings of the modern world. Among the most prominent members of what became the Frankfurt School were Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer & Herbert Marcuse. Not only would they change the way we think, but also the subjects we deem worthy of intellectual investigation. Their lives, like their ideas, profoundly, sometimes tragically, reflected & shaped the shattering events of the 20th century. This book combines biography, philosophy & storytelling to reveal how the Frankfurt thinkers gathered in hopes of understanding the politics of culture during the rise of fascism.
The Consolations of Mortality: Making Sense of Death by Andrew Stark ($55, HB)
For those who don’t believe in an afterlife, the wisdom of the ages offers four great consolations for mortality: that death is benign and good; that mortal life provides its own kind of immortality; that true immortality would be awful; and that we experience the kinds of losses in life that we will eventually face in death. Can any of these consolations honestly reconcile us to our inevitable demise? In this timely book, Andrew Stark tests the psychological truth of these consolations and searches our collective literary, philosophical & cultural traditions for answers to the question of how we, in the 21st century, might accept our mortal condition.
Psychology In Writing by Adam Phillips ($35, PB) For Adam Phillips—as for Freud & many of his followers—poetry & poets have always held an essential place, as both precursors & unofficial collaborators in the psychoanalytic project. But the same has never held true in reverse. What, Phillips wonders, at the start of this deeply engaging book, has psychoanalysis meant for writers? And what can writing do for psychoanalysis? Phillips explores these questions through an exhilarating series of encounters with and vivid readings of—writers he has loved, from Byron & Barthes to Shakespeare & Sebald. And in the process he demonstrates, through his own unique style, how literature & psychoanalysis can speak to & of each other. Weaponized Lies: How to Think Critically in a Post-Truth Era by Daniel Levitin ($23, PB)
We live in a world of information overload. Facts & figures on absolutely everything are at our fingertips, but are too often biased, distorted, or outright lies. From unemployment figures to voting polls, IQ tests to divorce rates, we’re bombarded by seemingly plausible statistics on how people live & what they think. Neurologist Daniel Levitin teaches how to effectively ask ourselves: can we really know that? And how do they know that? Levitin shows how learning to understand statistics will enable you to make better, smarter judgements on the world around you.
Outside the Asylum by Lynne Jones ($33, PB)
This is Lynne Jones’s personal exploration of humanitarian psychiatry and the changing world of international relief; a memoir of more than 25 years as a practising psychiatrist in war & disaster zones around the world. From her training in one of Britain’s last asylums, to treating traumatised soldiers in Gorazde after the Bosnian war, helping families who lost everything in the earthquake in Haiti, and learning from traditional healers in Sierra Leone, Lynne has worked with extraordinary people in extraordinary situations. This is a book that shines a light on the world of humanitarian aid, and that shows us the courage and resilience of the people who have to live, work & love in some of the most frightening situations in the world.
Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World by Michael Harris ($35, PB)
Solitude is a rapidly vanishing experience. Our society now embraces sharing like never before: time alone is being forced out by the constant pings of smartphones & prods of social media. But what if solitude still has something to offer us—something we have forgotten, but that we still desperately need? Michael Harris examines why being alone matters now more than ever before. He reflects on the paradoxical feeling of isolation that emerges from being constantly connected—and on how learning the beauty of solitude can help us escape it. After all, it is when we are alone that we realise the greatest truths about ourselves. Being alone—really alone—could be the only antidote to the frenzy of our digital age. Drawing on the research of the world’s leading neuroscientists & behavioural psychologists, Harris offers a timely and profound exploration of how to be alone—and why it matters.
The Secret Life of the Mind: How Our Brain Thinks, Feels & Decides by Mariano Sigman
In the last 20 years, Mariano Sigman has journeyed to the core of the brain, an organ formed by nearly an infinity of neurons that manufacture how we perceive, reason, feel, dream & communicate. After more than 2 decades of research, he has zoomed out from a thorough excursion to the neurons to seeing the brain from afar, where thoughts begin to take shape. And at this point where psychology meets neuroscience, Sigman combines the work of biologists, physicists, mathematicians, psychologists, anthropologists, linguists, engineers, philosophers & medical doctors—not to forget cooks, magicians, musicians, chess players, writers & artists—to look into how we forge ideas in our first days of life; how we shape the decisions that define us; why we dream; how years & years of formal & informal education change our brains, and explore how we begin to understand even the smallest things that make up who and what we are. ($33, PB)
The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism by Kristin Dombek ($23, PB)
They are irresistibly charming & accomplished, appearing to live in a radiance beyond what we are capable of. But narcissists are empty. So goes the popular understanding of narcissism, or NPD (narcissistic personality disorder). Kristin Dombek provides a clear-sighted account of how a rare clinical diagnosis became a fluid cultural phenomenon, a repository for our deepest fears about love, friendship & family. She cuts through hysteria in search of the razor-thin line between pathology & common selfishness, writing with robust skepticism toward the prophets of NPD and genuine empathy for those who see themselves as its victims. And finally, she shares her own story in a candid effort to find a path away from the cycle of fear and blame and toward a more forgiving and rewarding life. 17
Gossip & Myth
The gossip and myth surrounding Heide, in Melbourne, belie its true significance in the Australian modern art scene. It’s true, it was a hotbed of passions and betrayals, and the setting of a famous, and still surprising, ménage à trois, but it was always far more than the sum of its parts. Modern Love: The Lives of John and Sunday Reed by Kendrah Morgan and Lesley Harding is a thorough and compelling account of the lives of both the Reeds, and the life they led with many of Australia’s most influential artists. They disliked being known as benefactors, but they were extremely generous—with a more or less open cheque book policy for many of their friends. On more than one occasion they bought a house for a friend in need. They collected modern art avidly, and yet they lived in an environment that harked back to another time. From this distance it seems like a rural, artistic idyll, and yet we all know there’s no such thing in real life. Well, there might be, but Heide could clearly be as fraught as anywhere. There is the most tremendous sense of loss in their story—both of the Reeds seemed shattered when Sunday’s lover, Sidney Nolan, flew the nest—and much ugliness followed, partly regarding the ownership of paintings. Sunday never really recovered from the break with Nolan, and despite living a full life for many more decades, it was tinged with sadness. Modern Love could be seen as a cautionary tale, many tragedies took place within and without Heide, but the authors have suspended judgement, and have created a vivid story about two forward thinkers, who both lived in the way they wanted and created a beautiful legacy.
Cultural Studies & Criticism
Loss is a central theme in Colm Tóibín’s brilliant new book, The House of Names. Set in ancient Greece, he bases his new novel on the legend of Clytemnestra, wife of Agamemnon, mother of the doomed Iphigenia, prickly Electra, and Orestes, her only son. It’s a slim book, almost compressed in size, and yet broad in narrative— it spans several decades, across a wide kingdom, redolent with many unthinkable cruelties and betrayals. The murderous Clytemnestra achieves revenge, when her husband has just one leg in the bathtub, and she in turn is part of Orestes’ revenge, and so it goes. The eponymous house of names, is somewhere on the lonely, war ravaged coast, where Orestes and his friends Mitros and Leander take refuge after they run away after they are captured. It offers a pleasant respite for both the boys, and the reader, from the murderous adults in the palace, and it is the place where their friendship is formed. Despite Colm Tóibín’s calm, plain-speaking language, he has created another book full of extraordinary detail, deep mystery and recognisable humanity—Leander leans against a wall in the corridor (and there are many of those) while he listens to Orestes speak, the shade of Clytemnestra hears the muffled beating of swan feathers when she recalls her own mother (Leda—these are the evocative images that make this book so very appealing. Louise
More Alive and Less Lonely: On Books and Writers by Jonathan Lethem ($45, HB)
This volume collects more than a decade of Jonathan Lethem’s finest writing on writing, with new & previously unpublished material, including: impassioned appeals for forgotten writers & overlooked books, razor-sharp essays, and personal accounts of his most extraordinary literary encounters & discoveries. With his love of cult favorites & the canon alike, Lethem writes with equal insight about the stories of modern masters like Lorrie Moore & Salman Rushdie, graphic novelist Chester Brown, science fiction outlier Philip K. Dick & classics like Moby-Dick.
Sallies, Romps, Portraits & Send-Offs: Selected Prose, 2000–2016 by August Kleinzahler ($40, HB)
Witty, gritty poet & memoirist August Kleinzahler has gathered the best of 16 years’ worth of essays, remembrances & reviews in this scabrous & essential collection, setting down his thoughts about great poets & bad poets, about kvetching fiction writers & homicidal musicians, about eccentric critics & discerning nobodies, always with insight & humour, and never suffering fools gladly. August Kleinzahler eulogizes famous friends, warts & all (Thom Gunn, Christopher Middleton, Leonard Michaels); leads the charge in carving up a few bloated reputations (E. E. Cummings, Richard Brautigan); and sings the praises of unjustly neglected masters (Lucia Berlin, Kenneth Cox). He also turns the spotlight on himself in several short, delightful memoirs, covering such subjects as his obsessive CD collecting, the eerie effects of San Francisco fog, and the terrible duty of selling of his childhood home.
Beyond Veiled Clichés: The Real Lives of Arab Women by Amal Awad ($35, PB)
As someone who has a foot in both the Western and Arabic worlds, Amal Awad set out to explore the lives of Arab women, in Australia and the Middle East, travelling to the region and interviewing more than 60 women about feminism, intimacy, love, sex & shame, trauma, war, religion & culture. She explores the similarities & differences experienced by these women in their daily lives—work, relationships, home & family life, friendships, the communities they live in, and more. Arab-Australian women are at the intersection—between Western ideals & Arab tradition. It can get messy, but there is also great beauty in the layers. The Clothing of Books by Jhumpa Lahiri ($17, PB) How do you clothe a book? In this deeply personal reflection, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri explores the art of the book jacket from the perspectives of both reader and writer. Probing the complex relationships between text and image, author and designer, and art and commerce, Lahiri delves into the role of the uniform; explains what book jackets and design have come to mean to her; and how, sometimes, ‘the covers become a part of me’.
The Autonomous City: A History of Urban Squatting by Alex Vasudevan ($35, PB)
This first popular history of squatting in Europe & North America draws on extensive archival research as well as interviews with squatters & activists. It retraces the struggle for housing in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Hamburg, London, Milan, New York, Detroit, Paris & Vancouver. It looks at the organisation of alternative forms of housing—from Copenhagen’s Christiana ‘Free Town’ to the Lower East Side of Manhattan—as well official responses, including the recent criminalisation of squatting, new powers of eviction & the vilification of protesters. Alexander Vasudevan argues how, through a shared history of political action, community organisation & collective living, squatting has became a way to re-imagine the city. His book challenges the dominant cartography of the ‘neo-liberal city’: housing precarity, rampant property speculation & the negative effects of urban redevelopment & regeneration—arguing that we must re-animate & re-make the city as a site of radical social transformation.
Client Earth by James Thornton ($35, PB)
Who will stop the planet from committing ecological suicide? The UN? Governments? Activists? Corporations? Engineers? Scientists? Whoever, environmental laws need to be enforceable and enforced. Step forward a fresh breed of passionately purposeful environmental lawyers. They provide new rules to legislatures, see that they are enforced, and keep us informed. They tackle big business to ensure money flows into cultural change, because money is the grammar of business just as science is the grammar of nature. At the head of this new legal army stands James Thornton, who takes governments to court, and wins. And his client is the Earth.
Wild Ride: Inside Uber’s Quest for World Domination by Adam Lashinsky ($35, PB)
Uber is one of the most fascinating and controversial businesses in the world, both beloved for its elegant ride-hailing concept and heady growth, and condemned for CEO Travis Kalanick’s ruthless pursuit of success at all cost. Adam Lashinsky traces the story of Uber’s meteoric rise: from its murky origins to its plans for expansion into radically different industries. The company has already poached entire departments from top research universities in a push to build the first self-driving car and possibly replace the very drivers it’s worked so hard to recruit. With access to current and former employees, as well as CEO Travis Kalanick, this book is the first to unlock Uber’s vault.
Nobody Leaves by Ryszard Kapuscinski ($30, PB)
When Ryszard Kapuscinski was a young journalist in the early 1960s, he was sent to the farthest reaches of his native Poland between foreign assignments. The resulting pieces brought together in this new collection, nearly all of which are translated into English for the first time, reveal a place just as strange as the distant lands he visited. From forgotten villages to collective farms, Kapuscinski explores a Poland that is post-Stalinist but still Communist; a country on the edge of modernity. He encounters those for whom the promises of rising living standards never worked out as planned, those who would have been misfits under any political system, those tied to the land & those dreaming of escape.
The Gifts Of Reading by Robert Macfarlane ($6, PB)
Every book is a kind of gift to its reader, and the act of giving books is charged with a special emotional resonance. It is a meeting of three minds (the giver, the author, the recipient), an exchange of intellectual and psychological currency, that leaves both participants the richer. Here Robert Macfarlane recounts the story of a book he was given as a young man, and how he managed eventually to return the favour, though never repay the debt. From one of the most lyrical writers of our time comes a perfectly formed gem, a lyrical celebration of the power and preciousness of the given book.
Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day by Peter Ackroyd ($30, PB)
Preeminent chronicler of London, Peter Ackroyd, looks at the metropolis through the history & experiences of its gay population. In Roman Londinium the penis was worshipped & homosexuality was considered admirable. The city was dotted with lupanaria (‘wolf dens’ or public pleasure houses), fornices (brothels) & thermiae (hot baths). Then came the Emperor Constantine, with his bishops & clergy, monks & missionaries. His rule was accompanied by the first laws against queer practices. What followed was an endless loop of alternating permissiveness & censure, from the notorious Normans, whose military might depended on masculine loyalty, and the fashionable female transvestism of the 1620s; to the frenzy of executions for sodomy in the early 1800s & the ‘gay plague’ in the 1980s. Ackroyd enters into this hidden city, celebrating its diversity, thrills & energy on the one hand; but reminding us of its very real terrors, dangers & risks on the other. In a city of superlatives, it is perhaps this endless sexual fluidity & resilience that epitomise the real triumph of London.
My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul ($37, HB)
Pamela Paul has kept a single book by her side for 28 years—carried throughout high school & college, hauled from Paris to London to Thailand, from job to job, from apartment to house to its current perch on a shelf over her desk—reliable if frayed, anonymous-looking yet deeply personal. This book has a name: Bob. Bob is Paul’s Book of Books, a journal that records every book she’s ever read, from Sweet Valley High to Anna Karenina—a journey in reading that reflects her inner life—her dreams & her ideas, both half-baked & wholehearted. Her life, in turn, influences the books she chooses, whether for solace or escape, information or sheer entertainment. My Life with Bob is about the deep & powerful relationship between book & reader—about why we read what we read and how those choices make us who we are, and how we make our own stories.
Tough Enough: Arbus, Arendt, Didion, McCarthy, Sontag, Weil by Deborah Nelson ($47, PB)
Simone Weil, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Diane Arbus, and Joan Didion. Aligned with no single tradition, they escape straightforward categories. Yet their work evinces an affinity of style and philosophical viewpoint that derives from a shared attitude toward suffering. What Mary McCarthy called a ‘cold eye’ was not merely a personal aversion to displays of emotion: it was an unsentimental mode of attention that dictated both ethical positions and aesthetic approaches. Tough Enough traces the careers of these women and their challenges to the pre-eminence of empathy as the ethical posture from which to examine pain. Their writing and art reveal an adamant belief that the hurts of the world must be treated concretely, directly, and realistically, without recourse to either melodrama or callousness.
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge ($28, PB)
When journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren’t affected by it in a piece on her blog, entitled: ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ her words hit a nerve. The post went viral & comments flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own experiences. Galvanised by this clear hunger for open discussion, she decided to dig into the source of these feelings. Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class & race, Eddo-Lodge offers an essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge & counter racism.
The Mother of All Questions : Further Reports from the Feminist Revolutions by Rebecca Solnit ($27, PB) In a follow-up to her national bestseller Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit offers indispensable commentary on women who refuse to be silenced, misogynistic violence, the fragile masculinity of the literary canon, the gender binary, the recent history of rape jokes, and much more. In characteristic style, Solnit mixes humour, keen analysis, and powerful insight in these essays.
Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism by Camille Paglia ($49, HB)
Feminist and culture critic Camille Paglia is at her feisty, full-throated best in this series of short manifestos that spans her career from her breakthrough 1990 study, Sexual Personae. Whether she’s calling for equal opportunity for American women (years before the founding of the National Organization for Women), championing a more discerning standard of beauty that goes beyond plastic surgery’s quest for eternal youth, lauding the liberating force of rock and roll, or demanding free and unfettered speech on university campuses and beyond, Paglia can always be counted on to get to the heart of matters large and small. At once illuminating, witty, and inspiring, these essays are essential reading that affirm the power of men and women and what we can accomplish together. ‘One does not have to agree with her theories about masculinity, femininity, and sex to enjoy Paglia’s bracing intellect and scrappy attitude’.—Publisher’s Weekly
s d d w n n a o 2 H R
The Neglected Master of Mystery
When I lived in Cologne in the 1980s my German girlfriend had a whole library of what were called ‘Krimis’—short for Kriminalroman, crime novels. Among the many authors, pride of place was given to translations of the English writer Edgar Wallace. These editions were published in the late 1950s/ early 1960s in striking red and black coloured paperbacks. All featured a recommendation from the then West German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer. From memory part of it was as follows: ‘After a stressful day at work, I arrive home and instinctively reach for a Wallace to relax and unwind…’ This Teutonic obsession with Wallace did not stop with his books. Late night German television regularly screened film adaptations of his bestsellers. Between 1959 to 1972, some 32 films were made with such lurid (and bizarre) titles as The Frog with the Mask or The Carpet of Terror. I mention all this by way of introducing one of the most prolific, popular crime writers of his time and perhaps the most neglected today. At the height of his success Edgar Wallace’s worldwide book sales were estimated at over 200 million copies. On the back of each paperback was the bold letter claim: ‘It is impossible not to be thrilled by Edgar Wallace!’ The many talented Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace (1875–1932) was also a newspaper seller, medical orderly, poet, war correspondent, crime reporter, editor, playwright, racehorse owner, director, parliamentary candidate and Hollywood screenwriter. When Wallace embarked on his literary career in 1903 after returning to England from South Africa, where he had been reporting on the Boer War for Reuters, he remarked: ‘I will give them crime and blood and three murders to the chapter; such is the insanity of the age that I do not doubt for one moment the success of my venture.’ Among his 175 books were such bestselling titles as The Four Just Men (1905) an ingenious tale of a quartet of political vigilantes who cleverly murder various evil doers whose wealth and power keep them beyond the reach of the law. One of the episodes features the murder of the British Foreign Secretary, mysteriously killed in a closed room surrounded by hundreds of police. Wallace offered a substantial cash prize of £500 to any reader who could guess the murder method. He got into all sorts of financial trouble when an embarrassingly large number did so. By the 1920s Wallace was known as the ‘fiction factory’. He narrated his words onto Dictaphone recording machines and his secretaries typed up the text. While working, he drank up to 40 cups of tea and smoked between 80 and 100 cigarettes a day. By 1926 his constant need for funds to sustain his high living lifestyle and gambling habits saw him complete 18 novels a year; by 1929, he had reached 34 books annually. At the time of his death he was busy working on a screenplay for RKO Studios for a ‘Gorilla picture’—the Hollywood film King Kong. This month—a trilogy of Edgar Wallace titles. All Good condition. Price: $10.00 each. The Mind of Mr. J. G. Reeder—First published 1925. A 1962 reprint. Eight short stories set around the period 1910 to 1918 featuring the demure, slightly shabby, unprepossessing Mr Reeder, a detective at the Public Prosecutor’s Office. A milder, meeker version of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, with none of Holmes’s (admittedly entertaining) arrogance. Mr Reeder also uses his ice cool genius, and criminal turn of mind, to solve various crimes. These include a disappearance at sea that is less innocent than it appears to be, a female poisoner, a Canadian conman who tempts a dissipated member of the English nobility with tales of Russian royal treasure, a Hindu criminal mastermind, counterfeiters, embezzlers and an assortment of gangsters. The frequent murders are often carried out by unusual and exotic means. The Yellow Snake—First published 1926. A 1963 reprint. Delightfully trashy and utterly politically incorrect crime thriller. Stephen Narth is a crooked British merchant banker. He has been speculating with client’s money, and needs £50,000 to avoid prison. Enter wealthy Oxford-educated Chinese businessman Grahame St Clay (real name Fing-Su). He lends Narth the money but the hapless banker is now hopelessly involved in the conspiracies of Fing-Su’s Secret Society of Joyful Hands. The Oriental fiend plans nothing less than world domination. Numerous plot complications follow, including several murders and kidnappings, ruthless assassins and a horrific initiation ritual that Narth must endure. Fortunately, in a very rapid conclusion, Fing-Su’s plans come to an explosive end in the English Channel. The Calendar – First published 1930. A 1961 reprint. Garry Anson, a wealthy racehorse owner, is banned from the track when suspicion falls on him that one of his horses has ‘run dead.’ A double-cross has been played by Wenda Panniford, the woman he loves. With the help of Hillcott, his sarcastic butler (and exburglar) and the aid of a secret admirer, Mollie Panniford—the bad girl’s sister—with whom he falls in love, Anson succeeds in regaining a £100 note that will clear his name. Stephen Reid
Rachel Carson Environmental Crusader
There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings. It lay in the midst of a checkerboard of farms, fields of grain, hillsides of orchards. Along the roads great ferns and wildflowers delighted the traveller’s eye … where countless birds came to feed … the streams flowed clear and cold and contained pools where trout lay. Then a strange blight crept over the area. Mysterious maladies swept the flocks of chickens. The cattle, the sheep sickened and died. The farmers spoke of much illness among their families…the doctors puzzled by new kinds of sickness among their patients. There was a strange stillness…the few birds seen anywhere trembled and could not fly…the hens brooded but no chicks hatched, no bees droned among the blossoms, there would be no fruit. The roadsides were now lined with brown and withered vegetation. These too were silent. The streams were now lifeless, for all the fish had died. In the gutters, under the eaves, a white granular powder still showed a few patches; some weeks before it had fallen like snow upon the roof, the lawns, the fields and streams. No witchcraft had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves. From A Fable for Tomorrow—Chapter 1 of Silent Spring (1962 ($24.95, PB).
Fifty-five years ago, a book appeared in the United States that would literally change the world. It also changed how we think of the world and our place in it. Silent Spring by Rachel Louise Carson (1907–1964)—a marine biologist, naturalist and popular science author—sounded the alarm to the American public of the man-made dangers to the natural environment caused by the misuse of chemical pesticides. In particular, that of Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane—better known as DDT. Carson was already a best-selling nature writer, famed world-wide for her ‘Sea Trilogy’ of books on the ocean and its environment:
Under the Sea-Wind (1941)—$31, PB. Originally begun in 1936 when Carson was an unemployed zoologist and freelance writer as an essay for a US Dept. of Fisheries brochure on marine life. She expanded the subject and wrote an engaging volume on the sea and sea life. Under the Sea-Wind is structured in three parts, and in each part, we view the ocean from the point of view of one of its inhabitants. The Sea Around Us (1951)—$36, PB. The result of eight years’ research, this is the book with which Rachel Carson achieved literary fame. A global survey of the formation, history and character of the world’s oceans written in moving, poetic prose. Winner of The National Book Award (1952) and a worldwide bestseller.
The Edge of the Sea (1955)—$29, PB. A unique natural history ‘field guide’—this was an exploration of the rocky coast of New England, the sand shores of the MidAtlantic, and the coral shores of the lower South. Each area is described with its animal and plant life, all of which Carson describes with imagination and wonder of the seashore. Descriptive and lyrical, it describes and details the seashore environment and examines the plants and animals that one may expect to see while visiting there between high and low tides. Concerned about the increasingly prolific use of synthetic pesticides after World War II, Carson switched her focus to examine the environmental and human dangers effects of such chemical sprays. Silent Spring was serialised in three articles in The New Yorker in July 1962—which were read by President John F. Kennedy. At a Press Conference held that month, Kennedy was asked if the Dept. of Health was conducting any research into ‘possible long term health effects of pesticides such as DDT?’ He replied: ‘Yes. I know that they already are. Particularly since Miss Carson’s book. They are already examining the matter.’ The next day, Kennedy authorised the President’s Science Advisory Committee to prepare a report on the subject of pesticide use and review the evidence Carson had presented. Silent Spring appeared on 27 September 1962. Unknown to the public, it had been completed in the shadow of mortal illness. Since 1960, Rachel Carson had been battling breast cancer. As Carson’s biographer, Linda Lear noted: Carson had to conceal her illness, even wearing a wig when her hair started falling out during chemotherapy, for fear of the chemical companies attacking her Silent Spring research by saying, ‘She’s dying of cancer and wants to blame the pesticides.’
And criticised she was. By numerous chemical industry companies—such as Monsanto and DuPont, the main manufacturer of DDT—as well as their scientific supporters. Carson was maligned as an ‘hysterical Spinster’; a ‘bird and bunny lover’. She was declared an ‘alarmist’ who was merely ‘overwrought’—one guilty of preaching an unnecessarily gloomy vision of America’s scientific and technological future. The industry also spent over a quarter of a million dollars in attempts to discredit her findings. In vain. Her fact-based assertions and calm, scholarly demeanour—during numerous interviews and particularly at Congressional Hearings held in 1963 prompted by her book—saw her garner much public support. In May 1963, President Kennedy’s Science Advisory Committee Report—titled ‘Use of Pesticides’—was made public. It vindicated Carson’s findings, recommending increased public education concerning the biological hazards of pesticides. Contrary to her critics’ claims that she wished to ban all pesticides, Carson encouraged their carefully managed use, together with an awareness of their impact on the entire ecosystem. She realised that the overuse of such pesticides would merely result in the insects developing genetic resistance to them:
No responsible person contends that insectborne disease should be ignored. The question is whether it is either wise or responsible to attack the problem by methods that are rapidly making it worse. The world has heard much of the triumphant war against disease through the control of insect infection, but it has heard little of the other side of the story—the defeats, the short-lived triumphs that now strongly support the alarming view that the insect enemy has been made actually stronger by our efforts. In 1972 the Environmental Protection Agency—established in 1970 by the Nixon Administration (credit where credit is due)—banned the use of DDT (except in emergencies). In 1987 the use of DDT was fully banned in Australia. In 1996 the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended ‘extremely restricted’ use of DDT worldwide. Today the WHO rates DDT as a ‘probable human carcinogen’. Rachel Carson dedicated Silent Spring to Dr Albert Schweitzer, who had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 for his efforts to end the atomic arms race. Two Biographies of Rachel Carson are: Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature by Linda Lear (1994)—$48, PB; On A Farther Shore: The Life & Legacy of Rachel Carson by William Souder (2013)—$31, PB Stephen Reid
Partly: New and Selected Poems, 2001–2015 by Rae Armantrout ($35, HB)
Rae Armantrout’s poetry comprises one of the most refined & visionary bodies of work written over the last 40 years. These potent, compact meditations on our complicated times reveal her observant sensibility, lively intellect & emotional complexity. In addition to 25 new poems, there are selections from her books Up To Speed, Next Life, the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award winning volume Versed, Money Shot, Just Saying, and Itself.
Whereas: Poems by Layli Long Soldier
Through a virtuosic array of short lyrics, prose poems, longer narrative sequences, resolutions & disclaimers, Layli Long Soldier has created a brilliantly innovative text to examine histories, landscapes, her own writing, and her predicament inside national affiliations. ‘I am,’ she writes, ‘a citizen of the United States and an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, meaning I am a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation—and in this dual citizenship I must work, I must eat, I must art, I must mother, I must friend, I must listen, I must observe, constantly I must live.’ ($29, PB)
Four Reincarnations: Poems by Max Ritvo
When Max Ritvo was diagnosed with cancer at age 16, he became the chief war correspondent for his body. The poems of Four Reincarnations are dispatches from chemotherapy beds & hospitals & the loneliest spaces in the home. They are relentlessly embodied, communicating pain, violence & loss. And yet they are also erotically, electrically attuned to possibility & desire, to ‘everything living / that won’t come with me / into this sunny afternoon.’ Ritvo explores the prospect of death with singular sensitivity, but he is also a poet of life and of love—a cooleyed assessor of mortality & a fervent champion for his body & its pleasures. ($40, HB)
Then Come Back: The Lost Poems of Pablo Neruda ($25, PB)
This collection gathers 21 never-before-seen poems, found by archivists in boxes kept at the Pablo Neruda Foundation in Chile in 2014. Neruda is renowned for poetry that casts away despair and celebrates living, fired by his belief that there is no unsurmountable solitude. Then Come Back presents Neruda’s mature imagination and writing: signature love poems, odes, anecdotes & poems of the political imagination. Translator Forrest Gander renders the eros & heartache, deep wonder & complex wordplay of the original Spanish, which is presented here alongside full-colour reproductions of the poems in their original composition on napkins, playbills, receipts & in notebooks.
War Primer by Bertolt Brecht ($27, PB) In this singular book written during World War II, the renowned playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht takes photographs from newspapers and popular magazines and puts short epigraph poems to each, in a unique attempt to understand the truth of war using mass media. From catastrophic bombings, to propaganda portraits of leading Nazis, to scenes of unbearable tragedy on the battlefield, this is an anthology of horror, but accompanied by Brecht’s razor-sharp deconstruction of what we see, through his taut, angry and direct poems. The result is an outstanding literary memorial to World War II, and also one of the most spontaneous, revealing and moving of Brecht’s works.
Everyone Brave Is Forgiven Chris Cleave, HB
The Age of Magic Ben Okri, HB
George Orwell: Life in Letters (ed) Peter Davison, HB
Now $16.95 Sylvia, Queen of the Headhunters: An Eccentric Englishwoman and Her Lost Kingdom Philip Eade, HB
Mr and Mrs Disraeli: A Strange Romance Daisy Hay, HB
The 40s: The Story of a Decade The New Yorker Magazine, PB
Beale Street Dynasty Sex, Song, and the Struggle for the Soul of Memphis Preston Lauterbach, HB
The Inheritor’s Powder: A Tale of Arsenic, Murder, and the New Forensic Science Sandra Hempel, HB
Growing a Feast: The Chronicle of a Farm-to-table Meal Kurt Timmermeister, HB
A Book of Voyages Patrick O’Brian, HB
America’s Other Audubon Joy Kiser, HB
The Jane Austen Miscellany (ed) Lauren Nixon, HB
Rebellion: The History of The Dark Side of the England from James I to the Enlightenment: Wizards, AlcheGlorious Revolution mists, and Spiritual Seekers in Peter Ackroyd, HB the Age of Reason John V. Fleming, HB
The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America George Packer, HB
The Last Love Song Tracy Daugherty, HB
Touching a Nerve: The Self as Brain Patricia S. Churchland, HB
Poetry Notebook: Reflections on the Intensity of Language Clive James, HB
Lebanese Cookbook Hussien Dekmak, HB
P Was $25
Universal Principles of Art: 100 Key Concepts for Understanding, Analyzing, and Practicing Art John A Parks, HB 21
The Glass of the Architects: Vienna 1900–1937 by Rainald Franz & Pasquale Gagliardi
In the early 20th century, a group of young architects, designers, and fine arts and architecture students developed a special interest in the process of glassmaking. They paved the way to the first pioneering developments in twentieth-century glass production as they gained a thorough understanding of the material. The collaboration between architects and designers created the style of Viennese glass, found in new projects such as the Wiener Werkstatte or the Austrian Werkbund. ($85, HB)
Survivor: A Portrait of the Survivors of the Holocaust by Harry Borden ($50, HB)
Over the course of five years, photographer Harry Borden has travelled the globe photographing survivors of the Holocaust. The people featured vary in age, gender & nationality, but are all tied together by their experience & survival of one of the darkest moments in human history. Each photograph is accompanied by a handwritten note from the sitter, ranging from poems, to memories, to hopes for the future, creating a strong sense of intimacy between sitter & reader. This intimacy is amplified by the home settings of many of the photographs, along with the Borden’s use of available light at each scene. The book ends with a section providing information about the person in each portrait, and about how & what they survived, together with the historical context of the events they lived through.
Yun-Fei Ji: The Intimate Universe ($80, HB)
This monograph features Beijing-born artist’s acclaimed scrolls, sculptures & drawings. In his impressionistic works, Yun-Fei Ji takes on the thousand-year-old practice of Chinese scroll painting, employing ink on paper as his primary medium, and landscape as his central subject. Rather than adopting the idealism characteristic of traditional scroll painting, Ji presents the gritty reality of life in contemporary China. In this comprehensive monograph, Ji’s works bridge the gap between modernity and tradition. Essays explore themes of community, dislocation & environmental degradation as well as Chinese folklore and its rapid decline in his native country’s culture.
Horizon by Bert Danckaert ($110, HB) Bert Danckaert explores new horizons in this latest collection of his work. Danckaert has been a name to remember in the art photography world, ever since his 1990 debut, and this book maintains continuity with his previous collections, with pictures focusing on the urbane urbanism of walls, street corners and footpaths. However, this time his signature hermetic minimalism makes way for humour and vivacity.
Hats by Clair Hughes ($50, HB) Bowlers, Bergères, berets & beyond, this is the ultimate guide to hats through history. From the lavish fashion hats of Marie Antoinette’s court to the experimental millinery of Stephen Jones & Philip Treacy, Hats takes a beautifully illustrated journey through class conflict, gendered etiquette & national allegiances to reveal the complex cultures from which each style emerged. Hats are able to confer a certain presence on the wearer, whilst working to a seemingly arcane system of codes that govern our behaviour. At which occasion is it appropriate to wear a hat? When is it respectful to take hats off? Clair Hughes explores both historical & contemporary styles, as well as their depictions in art, literature and film, with sharp historical insights & playful narratives.
DVDs With Scott Donovan Its Only The End Of The World: Xavier Dolan
After 12 years of estrangement a writer (Gaspard Ulliel) returns to his hometown, planning on announcing his impending death to his family. However, his mother (Nathalie Baye), tempestuous siblings (Vincent Cassel and Léa Seydoux) and beleaguered sister-in-law (Marion Cotillard) have their own personal grievances to air. As buried resentments threaten to surface and fits and feuds begin to unfold, all attempts at empathy are sabotaged by the family’s inability to listen and love. Winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes 2016. ($32.95, Region 2)
Le Bureau: Season 2 ($59.95, Region 2)
French intelligence officer Guillaume Debailly (Mathieu Kassovitz) and not so new recruit Marina Loiseau (Sara Giraudeau) return in this excellent French political drama—even better than the first season.
Irving Penn: Centennial ($100, HB) Over the course of a nearly seventy-year career, he mastered a pared-down aesthetic of studio photography that is distinguished for its meticulous attention to composition, nuance, and detail. This this lavish volume spans the entirety of his ground breaking career, featuring one of the largest selections of Penn’s photographs ever compiled, including famous and beloved images as well as works that have never been published. Essays acquaint readers with Penn’s primary subjects and campaigns, including early documentary scenes and imagery; portraits; fashion; female nudes; peoples of Peru, Dahomey (Benin), New Guinea & Morocco; still lifes; and much more.
Reflections: In Conversation with Today’s Artists by Matt Black ($170, HB)
When documentary photographer Matt Black interviews current artists, it’s personal. His perceptive queries prompt artists to reveal intriguing pieces of their journeys. Damien Hirst shares the motivation behind his spot paintings; Robert Longo reflects on the symbolism in his work and the Men in the Cities series that brought him recognition. The conversations are casual, comfortable, and insightful. Illustrated with the artists’ work, artists in their studios, and shots from Black’s video interviews, Reflections is a unique foray from the printed page into the world of the cinematic, and a work of art in itself.
Curators: Behind the Scenes of Natural History Museums by Lance Grande ($75, HB)
After three decades as a natural history curator, Lance Grande found that he still had to explain to people what he does. This book is the answer and, oh, what an answer it is: lively, exciting, up-to-date, it offers a portrait of curators & curation like none we’ve seen, one that conveys the intellectual excitement and educational and social value of curation. Grande uses the personal story of his own career—most of it spent at Chicago’s storied Field Museum—to structure his account as he explores the value of collections, the importance of public engagement, changing ecological & ethical considerations, & the impact of rapidly improving technology.
Beethoven’s Symphonies: Nine Approaches to Art and Ideas by Martin Geck ($55, HB)
In the years spanning from 1800 to 1824, Ludwig van Beethoven completed nine symphonies, now considered among the greatest masterpieces of Western music. Martin Geck presents a fresh look at the great composer’s approach & the ideas that moved him, offering a lively account of the major themes unifying his radically diverse output. He looks at the series of cultural, political & musical motifs that run throughout the symphonies, and delves into the unique ways in which Beethoven approached beginnings and finales in his symphonies, as well as his innovative use of particular instruments. He then turns to the individual symphonies, tracing elements—a pitch, a chord, a musical theme—that offer a new way of thinking about each work and will make even the most devoted fans of Beethoven admire the symphonies anew.
George, Dick, Anne, Julian and Timmy the dog return in new adventures for this famous & ageing quintet of sleuths! Five Lose Dad in the Garden Centre sees a relaxed Father’s Day outing turn into a nightmare when Uncle Quentin disappears into thin air, while in Five Get Beach Body Ready the path to the body beautiful is less straightforward than these tubby boomers were expecting. $20, HB
Dancer ($29.95) Blessed with astonishing power & poise, Sergei Polunin took the dance world by storm & became the Royal Ballet’s youngest ever principal. At the peak of his success, aged 21, he walked away, driven to the brink of self-destruction by stardom—his talent more a burden than a gift. This is an unprecedented look into the life of a complex young man who has made ballet go viral. Urban rebel, iconoclast, airborne angel, Sergei is transforming the shape of ballet as we know it. But virtuosity comes with a high price. How can you be free to be yourself when you are ballet’s ‘hottest property’? Die Nibelungen: Dir. Fritz Lang ($32.95, Region 2)
Perhaps the most stately of Fritz Lang’s two-part epics, this long-awaited HD restoration, presented in its original frame rates and aspect ratio, the five-hour Die Nibelungen is a courageous and hallucinatory work. Adapted from the myth that is the basis for Wagner’s Ring Cycle, part One, sees the eponymous Siegfried rise to power, part 2 sees his widow exact vengeance in one of the most exhilarating & terrifying end-sequences in all of cinema. Features include newly translated optional English subtitles for the original German intertitles and an hour-long documentary: The Heritage of Die Nibelungen
Winton's Paw Prints
So, I’ve been circling around Rebecca Solnit for a while now, but after finishing her newest book, The Mother of All Questions—further feminist essays that complete a trilogy started by the excellent Men Explain Things to Me—I’ve decided that: a. she is the Janet Malcolm of my generation (although slightly further to the left), and b. it’s time to take the plunge and read all her books— eighteen in total. It’s great to have a reading project. I’m going to start with Hope in the Dark—the second collection of essays in the trilogy afore-mentioned. After which I think I’ll take a stroll back to 2001 and read Wanderlust: A History of Walking in which she ‘argues that the history of walking includes walking for pleasure as well as for political, aesthetic and social meaning—profiling some of the most significant walkers in history and fiction—from Wordsworth to Gary Snyder, from Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet to André Breton’s Nadja—finding a profound relationship between walking and thinking and walking and culture’. Another essayist I’ve read and enjoyed this month is Kristin Dombek—The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism is an elegant and intelligent response to the claims of a global epidemic of pathological narcissism that is fuelled by an internet ‘narcisphere’ where pseudo-psychologists bilk those unhappy in love of hard-earned dollars by turning a difference of opinion into a symptom from the DSMV. She also deals nicely with the attacks on Millennials and the Igeneration as the most narcissistic generations, ever!—always wryly self-consciousness of the fact that she could well be accused of being a ‘narc’ given she is writing in the first person—which rates high on the narcissometer. Like Anne Manne’s The Life Of I Dombek’s book leaves the hysteria to the internet. Winton
Andrew: Insomniac City by Bill Hayes—I’m reading the lovely memoir insomnia, of Manhattan, and life with Oliver Sacks (with whom the author had what seems to have been a really genuine and deeply supportive ‘late season’ relationship—one that springs to life on the page). I will admit I find some of the autobiographical writing a tad self-conscious, and some of the best bits are when he strays from the ‘memoir’ brief, and takes off on a tangent (one moment he is discussing the best subway route to somewhere or other, the next the mating and grieving habits of geese). Peppered with his own photographs, it is a very easy read, and a very sweet take on life from someone with a genuine knack for teasing out what is interesting in the people and city around him.
what we're reading
Mike: Swimmer Among the Stars by Kanishk Tharoor—Having done my research into this author, and the hype about this debut collection, I was mustard (keen) to get my hands on a proof. Taught by both Zadie Smith and Jonathan Safran Foer, with a fabulous blog rave by author Amitav Ghosh, there seemed no way this book could be a disappointment. And it wasn’t. It has stories about ancient times (including an Alexander the Great cycle), it has a postmodern look at the last speaker of a forgotten language, all the way to the last remnants of the United Nations watching on from an orbiting space station as the world tears itself apart. Some of the tales can be a bit ... open to interpretation, but the writing is immaculate. Challenging. Sublime.
Judy: Go Tell it on The Mountain by James Baldwin has got to be one of the most powerful testimonies to the African American experience ever written. Based on Baldwin’s own life—he was the son of a born-again preacher—this novel of a few days around John Grime’s fourteenth birthday sweeps along with the lifetimes of slaves in it’s train. The compression of it’s structure barely contains the passion and the energy, the rage and the complexity of it’s revelation. I wanted to read it in one sitting. John is pinned and writhing under the expectations of the Lord and of the Saints. All the members of this Harlem church—The Temple of the Fire Baptized—are called Saints. His hatred of his violent preacher father prevents his submission, and yet it is redemption he craves. Scattered throughout, the fragments of gospel, chants, hymns, the blues create this intensely sensual, deeply hopeful community for the reader. The ‘amen’ and the ‘thank you Jesus’ are part of everyday conversation. The weight of the Church, its necessity for these people envelopes the reader, it is so vivid. The novel is set in 1935, but the stories of John’s father, Gabriel, his Aunt Florence and his Mother, Elizabeth, take us back to much earlier when being freed from slavery was still a living memory. The final chapter takes the reader into John’s complete breakdown at the altar. It is visceral. He is indeed, born again, but you are made to understand that this man is redeemed and freed in a different way—a way that brings his history and his galvanizing rage with him. This is the man who could write Go Tell it on The Mountain. John: Rebecca Huntley is a social researcher whose new book Still Lucky makes for fascinating reading. This is not a book about how things are but how we collectively see ourselves our nation and the world. A book about perception rather than reality, it’s focused on the period since 2006 when Huntley started the Ipsos Mind & Mood report. With a nod to the past, not just Donald Horne, and a look to the future. Easy to read and comprehend, and occasionally seeming to state the obvious Huntley manages to place things in context locally, globally and through individual experience.
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and another thing.....
I’d like to be able to give you the low-down on Arundhati Roy’s new novel, but someone snaffled the proof and no-one’s owning up—so more on that next month. Meanwhile the crime pages have me thinking that I’ll read the new Nicci French—Sonia Lee, aka Granny’s Good Reads has convinced me she’s worth the effort. Also Don Winslow is back—still pursuing the war on drugs, but this time in New York. He’s always a good read (although I do wish he’d throw another Boone Daniels ‘surfer detective’ book to his fans). I’m tempted to fuel my paranoia by reading Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the Surveillance State by Barton Gellman (p. 15), and to put everything back into perspective by following that with Café Neandertal: Excavating Our Past in One of Europe’s Most Ancient Places by Beebe Bahrami (p.15). I recently read Eric H. Cline’s history of archaeology Three Stones Make a Wall and was soothed by the inexorable march of eons that inevitably reduces humans to a dot in the time line. Adding to my growing collection of essayists this month will be the volumes More Alive and Less Lonely: On Books and Writers by Jonathan Lethem and Sallies, Romps, Portraits & Send-Offs: Selected Prose, 2000–2016 by August Kleinzahler—both on page 18. I’ll be browsing Irving Penn: Centennial, Reflections: In Conversation with Today’s Artists by Matt Black and YunFei Ji: The Intimate Universe—if you’re ever stuck for a gift, there really are some fantastic books upstairs in the art departments. And with the film festival looming, why not kick it off at home with a viewing of Fritz Lang’s remastered epic, Die Nibelungen. See you next month. Viki
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