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Vol. 24 No. 2 March 2017
New this month: Grantlee Kieza’s biography of Ned Kelly’s mother,
Mrs Kelly Grantlee will be at Gleebooks to talk about his new book this month, as will Sean Flood, Sue Woolfe, Graeme Macrae Burnett, Caroline Baum, Tony Kevin , David Marr and more —check out our events calendar!
Welcome to 2017
A (very) belated new year’s welcome from me. My absence on holiday, catching up with family and meeting a new granddaughter in Tasmania, meant I was too late for a February column. Back at work, and sweltering through leisure time, hardly ideal reading conditions, but here’s a snapshot of books read, including a couple to look forward to. Victoria by Julia Baird ($44.99). Yes, you would need a holiday break to read this, it’s a brick of a book, but well worth the effort—it’s terrific.The subject, a queen of such enormous significance in the public life of a country at its imperial zenith that the age is named after her, has of course had many biographers before. But Baird’s is an original and rewarding review of the life, and the century in which it was lived. She is particularly impressive on the emancipatory significance of a woman on the throne at a time of such power. And of course, on the life of a woman dealing with life as a mother of many children, with an ambitious husband, and decades of tricky and powerful prime ministers. The Return: Fathers, Sons, and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar ($25) came out mid year 2016, and I’d been anxious to catch up with it, as I was big fan of his first novel In the Country of Young Men, shortlisted for the Booker ten years ago. The Return is a very beautifully written memoir, infused with great intelligence and tenderness, and a novelist’s narrative skill. Matar is of Libyan parentage, and his father, a prominent dissident opposed to Gaddafi’s regime, was kidnapped from his exile in Cairo in 1989—ten years after he fled Libya. It is understood he was murdered in a mass execution seven years later in a Tripoli prison, after years of torture and solitary confinement. Hisham is the son in search of the unattainable, the truth about his father’s fate (unknown) and a wounded and vulnerable soul. This is a great book to help to understand Gaddafi’s despotic regime, the utter idiocy of nation-making in post imperial Africa, and the sad course of the Arab spring. But it’s also a tender and brave attempt by the author to come to terms with the prospect of life after hope. If Matar makes it to any Australian literary Festivals this year, do your best to listen to him. You’ll be deeply impressed, I’m sure. The Rules of Backyard Cricket by Jock Serong ($33) I was late getting to this, despite urgings from the publisher (‘I know you don’t read much crime fiction, but this is different’) and from my formidably well-read colleague, Morgan Smith. It’s true what they said (‘you don’t need to know anything about cricket to love it’), as this is a riveting, genre-bending bit of crime noir writing. It’s a family saga, an intelligent look at corruption in sport and the perils of celebrity culture—the ruthlessness of competition in professional cricket, and a well-plotted and paced thriller. Can’t recommend it highly enough (and, yes, if you do know a lot about cricket, it’s even better, as a crucial point in the plot turns on a wrong’un that goes wrong). After by Nikki Gemmell ($30) is an April release. I read the advance copy in one sitting. It is a very fine, deeply personal attempt to come to terms, on her own and her family’s behalf, with the death of her mother, who took her own life in 2015. It a brave, raw, and brutally honest account. Gemmell looks back through her grief at her mother’s life, at the relationship between mother and daughter, at the awful course of circumstance which determined her choice (a botched foot operation which effectively immobilised her). This is a book, full of anguish and care, which will touch any reader. (Nikki is going to be at Gleebooks on the 2nd of April to talk about her book). A Writing Life: Helen Garner and her Work by Bernadette Brennan (April, $33): I don’t think there has been a more significant writer in my bookselling life than Helen Garner (her debut novel, Monkey Grip, was published in 1977, the year I began selling books). Every work of hers, fiction and non fiction, published over those forty years, has had a significant and lasting impact on the Australian literary and cultural landscape. So Bernadette Brennan’s splendid A Writing Life: Helen Garner and her Work is a timely and important book. It’s a critical biography, with a deft and intelligent focus on the whole body of Garner’s work, but rich in biographical detail to situate the course of a writing life in the lived experience which produced it. The works are analysed meticulously, sensitively, carefully, and the reader’s reward is to be granted access to a biographical context for each book which richly enhances your understanding of and appreciation of Garner’s long and wonderful career. The book is all the better for its in-depth analysis of the three major non-fiction books since 2000. Brennan’s depiction of the arduousness and audacity of Garner’s fearless approach to the very difficult subject of The First Stone, Joe Cinque’s Consolation and This House of Grief is beautifully modulated—a real triumph. She has captured and interpreted an important writer and her work beautifully. (Bernadette is also going to coming to Gleebooks in early April—see our events calendar). David Gaunt
Do You Love Me or What? by Sue Woolfe
This is a collection of eight sparkling, nuanced short stories. Written in elegant, shimmering prose, Sue Woolfe’s stories are woven with themes encompassing love, loss and yearning, memory and identity, the desert and water, and people who live on the periphery of society. Her sentences are spare and evocative, yet paint fully realised pictures that speak of the poignant, shared experiences of the nature of relationships, past and present. ($30, PB)
The Crying Place by Lia Hills ($30, PB)
After years of travelling, Saul is trying to settle down. But one night he receives the devastating news of the death of his oldest friend, Jed, recently returned from working in a remote Aboriginal community. Saul’s discovery in Jed’s belongings of a photo of a woman convinces him that she may hold the answers to Jed’s fate. So he heads out on a journey into the heart of the Australian desert to find the truth, setting in motion a powerful story about the landscapes that shape us and the ghosts that lay their claim. This is a haunting novel about love, country, and the varied ways in which we grieve. In its unflinching portrayal of the borderlands where worlds come together, and the past and present overlap, it speaks of the places and moments that bind us. The myths that draw us in. And, ultimately, the ways in which we find our way home.
The Restorer by Michael Sala ($30, PB) After a year apart, Maryanne returns to her husband, Roy, bringing their 8 year-old son Daniel & his teenage sister Freya with her. The family move from Sydney to Newcastle, where Roy has bought a derelict house on the coast. As Roy painstakingly patches the holes in the floorboards & plasters over cracks in the walls, Maryanne believes, for a while, that they can rebuild a life together. But Freya doesn’t want a fresh start—she just wants out—and Daniel drifts around the sprawling, run-down house in a dream, infuriating his father, who soon forgets the promises he has made. Some cracks can never be smoothed over, and tension grows between Roy & Maryanne until their uneasy peace is ruptured—with devastating consequences. Jean Harley Was Here by Heather Taylor Johnson
Jean Harley is a shining light in the lives of those who know & love her. But when tragedy strikes, what becomes of the people she leaves behind? Her devoted husband, Stan, is now a single father to their young son, Orion. Her best friends, Neddy & Viv, find their relationship unravelling at the seams. Charley, the ex-con who caused it all, struggles to reconcile his past crimes with his present mistakes. Life without Jean will take some getting used to, but her indelible imprint remains. ($29.95, PB)
The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty ($30, PB)
How do you know if your friends actually like you? Joni, Deb, Eden & Trina try to catch up once a year for a girls’ getaway. Careers, husbands & babies have pulled these old high-school friends in different directions, and the closeness they once enjoyed is increasingly elusive. This year, in a bid to revive their intimacy they each share a secret in an anonymous letter. But the revelations are unnerving. Then a fifth letter is discovered, venting long-held grudges and murderous thoughts. But who was the author? And which of the friends should be worried? This is a searing examination of the bonds of women’s friendship groups, and the pain of ending relationships that once seemed essential but might be outgrown.
From the Wreck by Jane Rawson ($29.95, PB) From the Wreck tells the remarkable story of George Hills, who survived the sinking of the steamship Admella off the South Australian coast in 1859. Haunted by his memories and the disappearance of a fellow survivor, George’s fractured life is intertwined with that of a woman from another dimension, seeking refuge on Earth. ‘Rawson recreates a vanished historical world with utterly convincing characters as well as inhabits the mind of a cephalopod alien and make us feel, in both cases, yes, that’s exactly how it is. Jane Rawson’s writing is mysterious, chilling and tender. The book is a sort of miracle.’ Lian Hearn Bloodlines by Nicole Sinclair ($27, PB)
Thirty-one-year-old Beth, who’s grown up in Western Australia’s wheatbelt, is running from her past when she heads to an island in PNG. Interwoven with Beth’s narrative about the joys and brutalities of island life is the story of her parents’ passionate, tender love for each other. But Clem and Rose’s union is beset with tragedy, forever marking the lives of those around them. This is a layered novel with shifting settings, times & voices. It offers insight into the complexities of daily life in PNG and how it feels to be an outsider in our closest neighbour’s land. It is also a story about family, exploring the bonds that tie us to our clan – specifically, the changing relationship between father and daughter as a young girl grows into a woman
Out this month Meanjin Vol 76 No 1, $25
Australian Literature An Uncertain Grace by Krissy Kneen (30, PB) Some time in the near future, university lecturer Caspar receives a gift from a former student called Liv: a memory stick containing a virtual narrative. Hooked up to a virtual reality bodysuit, he becomes immersed in the experience of their past sexual relationship. But this time it is her experience. What was for him an erotic interlude, resonant with the thrill of seduction, was very different for her—and when he has lived it, he will understand how. Later…A convicted paedophile recruited to Liv’s experiment in collective consciousness discovers a way to escape from his own desolation. A synthetic boy, designed by Liv’s team to ‘love’ men who desire adolescents, begins to question the terms of his existence. L, in transition to a state beyond gender, befriends Liv, in transition to a state beyond age. Liv herself has finally transcended the corporeal—but there is still the problem of love. Down The Hume by Peter Polites (28, PB)
He touched my face. When his hand went along my bruised top lip and my almost broken nose, I winced from the pain. His fist went into a deep denim pocket. Pulled out a Syrinapx bottle, twisted the cap off and handed me two light blue pills. How did Bucky get here? A series of accidents. A tragic love for a violent man. An addiction to painkillers he can’t seem to kick. An unlikely friendship with an ageing patient. Drugs, memories and the objects of his desire are colluding against Bucky. And when it hits him. Bam. A ton of bricks. The shadowy places of Western Sydney can be lit up with the hope of love, but no streetlight can illuminate like obsession.
The Woolgrower’s Companion by Joy Rhoades
Australia 1945. Kate Dowd has led a sheltered life on Amiens, her family’s sprawling sheep station in northern NSW. The horrors of war have for the most part left her untouched. But her father is succumbing to wounds he’s borne since the Great War and the management of the farm is increasingly falling on Kate’s shoulders. With only the sheep-rearing book The Woolgrower’s Companion to guide her, Kate rises to the challenge. However the arrival of two Italian POW labourers unsettles not only the other workers, but Kate too—especially when she finds herself drawn to the enigmatic Luca Canali. Then she receives devastating news. The farm is near bankrupt and the bank is set to repossess. Given just eight weeks to pay the debt, Kate is now in a race to save everything she holds dear. (33, PB)
The Unmourned: 2 The Monsarrat Series by Tom & Meg Keneally (33, PB)
Gentleman convict Hugh Monsarrat has a ticket of leave with its corresponding freedoms and restrictions, and has taken up residence in Parramatta, working for the governor’s private secretary. Master teamaker, Mrs Mulrooney has also relocated from Port Macquarie, to work as his housekeeper (and keep him on the straight and narrow). Robert Church, the evil superintendent of the infamous Parramatta Female Factory, is murdered and Monsarrat and sidekick Mulrooney are asked to investigate the demise of this universally unmourned man. In their attempt to save the convict woman accused of the killing Monsarrat and Mulrooney risk life and freedom—further uncovering the suffocating legacy of the convict/jailer relationship.
Now in B Format Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke, $23 The Soldier’s Curse by Tom & Meg Keneally, $23 The Midnight Watch by David Dyer, $23 The Light on the Water by Olga Lorenzo, $23
Time Capsule by David Ireland ($30, PB)
Painting students, surfers, pharmacists, retirees, sports lovers, budding writers, Toastmaster members, churchgoers, people from diverse walks of life—all muse on aspects of human experience, desire, beliefs and existential enigmas, as they put pen to paper to participate in a ‘time capsule’ project for an unknown future generation. David Ireland’s writing is as original and inventive today as it was when his works first appeared on the Australian literary scene.
l l i H ’ D On
This February has been too hot to concentrate on anything too highbrow so I’ve read a bit of crime. Winter Traffic is a debut Australian outing by Stephen Greenall ($30), a very Sydney literary crime novel about lowlife characters if not exactly the underworld. Greenall has an interesting style which takes a bit of getting used to / as he often uses backslashes instead of dashes or commas. It aspires to and sometimes achieves the state of poetry as in this stream of consciousness from the cop, Rawson—‘…AND I’M THE RESCHS SILVER BULLET AND THE SUSPECT NEWTOWN PASTRY AND THE ROYAL DOWN IN PADDO ON A LUCKLESS SUNDAY NIGHT. I AM THE NORTON CARBONARA AND THE BLOATED HURSTVILLE LOBSTER AND THE ANNANDALE FLASHER AND THE PHILLIP STREET REVIEW.’ I don’t know why it’s in caps but there you are. Awards aplenty coming methinks. We have a tight deadline this month so I am writing this the day after the 40 degree Sunday early in February. The only thing I could do was lie in front of the fan reading ‘the Queen of Nordic noir’, Icelandic writer Yrsa Sigurdardottir. Just the word ‘Iceland’ made me feel cooler, not to mention the many descriptions of snow and ice and freezing cold. The Legacy ($30, due early April) the first in a new series by the bestselling author was very readable and kept me guessing to the end though I do feel that her characterisation could have been better and there were certainly no laughs, or even a wry smile, to be had. Still, I guess murder is not a laughing matter! On that very hot day I walked my dog early and dropped in to my local shop, Hashem’s Food Mart. There was much excitement as I had just missed a visit from Pauline Hanson. What she was doing in Dulwich Hill no-one knew, but she wasn’t with a media contingent and had had a chat with the proprietor, who told me Hanson had said she wanted to ‘clean up our backyard’ with which he agreed. At first I thought she’d admonished him for the back of the shop being messy, but as they don’t have a backyard it didn’t make sense. I’ve known said proprietor for the 13 years I’ve lived here so he got an admonishment from me about what she actually meant by that odious phrase. He’s a Lebanese Muslim but apparently Saudi Arabian and some other Middle Eastern Muslims shouldn’t be let in! PARENTS OF TODDLERS TAKE NOTE: Ms Kennedy’s Storytime has resumed every Thursday morning at 10am. Robbie is a wonderful reader and storyteller and the children (2–5 years old) really love it. No need to book as we know it can be a last minute decision whether the toddler is up for it or not. Next month’s column will be a report on Adelaide Writers’ Week which I am much looking forward to attending, not to mention two weeks off work! Hurrah. See you on D’Hill, Morgan
Ms Kennedy’s Storytime Ms Roberta Kennedy is an experienced primary school teacher who will be known to many, having taught for the last 20 years at both Dulwich Hill and Marrickville West Primary Schools. Now retired, she has kindly offered her wonderful reading and storytelling skills to delight your 2–5 year olds.
Thinking of Santorini: Poems 1974–2015 by Andy Godfrey ($13, PB)
Beginning with a sunrise seen from the plane to Australia, to noticing shadows on the way by bus into Hamburg, this collection spans four decades. A remarkable journey—in both space and time. As an outsider in both Australia and Germany, the author avoids the merely descriptive, giving us a profound understanding of her keen observations and emotions. What is striking is not only the breadth of experience reflected in the poems, but their subtleties of tone; these range from entertaining glimpses of pre-Christmas Sydneysiders, through a slyly ironic note—as in Fairy Stories—to the lyrical beauty found in Kreta and Thinking of Santorini, or the quietly conversational Chiaroscuro.
For 2 - 5 year olds Every Thursday 10am Free
536 Marrickville Rd, Dulwich Hill
International Literature The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
How far would you go, for the ones you love?
Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community & adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous & dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune & coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from. ‘I write these words at a difficult time in my life ... having emerged from an 11 year relationship with the kindest, most loving, most decent man I’ve ever known. Somehow it all fell apart during 2016, and I find myself in a dark place. While of course a long relationship will have its peaks and troughs, I was certain that we would grow old together and the end has been distressing for both of us ... Perhaps Cyril Avery is everyone I might have been, that I am, that I amn’t, and that I might be yet. The desire to fall in love and to share one’s life with someone is neither a homosexual nor a heterosexual conceit. It’s human. We’re all suckers for a pretty face or a kind heart. What else can we do but keep hoping that the right person will show up?’ ($33, PB)
White Tears by Hari Kunzru ($33, PB)
How do you know if your friends actually like you?
The astonishing life of Ned Kelly’s mother
The Last Wolf and Herman: 2 Novellas by Laszlo Krasznahorkai ($30, PB)
In The Last Wolf, a philosophy professor is mistakenly hired to write the true tale of the last wolf of Extremadura, a barren stretch of Spain. His miserable experience is narrated in a single, rolling sentence to a patently bored bartender in a dreary Berlin bar. In Herman, a master trapper is asked to clear a forest’s last ‘noxious beasts.’ Herman begins with great zeal, although in time he switches sides, deciding to track entirely new game... In Herman II, the same events are related from the perspective of strange visitors to the region, a group of hyper-sexualised aristocrats who interrupt their orgies to pitch in with the manhunt of poor Herman.
The Lost Art Of Letter Writing by Menna van Praag ($23, PB)
In a forgotten nook of Cambridge a little shop stands where thousands of sheets of beautiful paper and hundreds of exquisite pens wait for the next person who, with Clara Cohen’s help, will express the love, despair and desire they feel to correspondents alive, estranged or dead. Clara knows better than most the power a letter can have to turn a person’s life around, so when she discovers a cache of wartime love letters, she follows them on the start of on a profound journey of her own.
Back to Moscow by Guillermo Erades ($20, PB)
The early 2000s, and Martin, an expat student recently arrived in Moscow to write a doctoral thesis on the heroines of Russian literature, needs all the guidance he can get to fathom the mysterious Russian soul. Distracted from his studies by the bright lure of nightclubs, vodka, ready money and real women, his restless explorations of the city lead him to dark and unexpected places.
The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter
In this sequel to H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds it has been 14 years since the Martians invaded England. The world has moved on, always watching the skies but content that we know how to defeat the Martian menace. Machinery looted from the abandoned capsules and war-machines has led to technological leaps forward. So when the signs of launches on Mars are seen, there seems little reason to worry. Unless you listen to one man, Walter Jenkins, the narrator of Wells’ book. He is sure that the Martians have learned, adapted, understood their defeat. He is right. ($33, PB)
Carter & Seth are worlds apart—one a trust fund hipster, the other a suburban nobody—and yet they are united by a love of music. Rising fast on the New York scene, one day they stumble across an old blues song long forgotten by history—and everything starts to unravel. Carter quickly becomes obsessed with the unknown singer, drawn down a path that allows no return, and Seth is trapped in a game he doesn’t understand, Seth moves unsteadily across a chessboard of white & black, performer & audience, righteous & forsaken, caught between the man who makes the music & the one who calls the tune.
Bright Air Black by David Vann
It is 13th century B.C. and aboard the ship Argo, Medea, Jason and the Argonauts make their return journey across the Black Sea from Persia’s Colchis, in possession of the Golden Fleece. David Vann, in brilliant poetic prose, gives us a nuanced and electric portrait of one of Greek mythology’s most fascinating and notorious figures, Medea; an ancient tale reimagined through the eyes of the woman often cast as sorceress and monster. Bright Air Black is an indispensable and provocative take on one of our earliest texts and the most intimate and corporal version of Medea’s story ever told. ($30, PB)
Checkpoint by Jean-Christophe Rufin ($30, PB)
The 4 men accompanying Maud on the aid convoy are very different from the clichéd image of humanitarian volunteers. One by one, they reveal the secret wounds that have brought them to this conflict zone and, mile by mile, the true nature of their cargo becomes clear. Jean-Christophe Rufin offers up a powerful psychological literary thriller that asks vital questions about the roll of humanitarian action in today’s world, bringing to light the most fundamental dilemmas of our age. As a new kind of violence insinuates it’s way into the heart of Europe, Rufin asks whether it might not be more effective to take up arms against the enemy rather than attempt to counter violence with benevolent acts & enlightenment ideals?
Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar ($33, PB)
‘How unlikely! Yet here we are...’ Set in the near-distant future, Jaroslav Kalfar’s debut novel follows a Czech astronaut as he launches into space to investigate a mysterious dust cloud covering Venus, a suicide mission sponsored by a proud nation. Suddenly a world celebrity, Jakub’s marriage starts to fail as the weeks go by, and his sanity comes into question. After his mission is derailed he must make a violent decision that will force him to come to terms with his family’s dark political past. An extraordinary vision of the endless human capacity to risk everything in the name of love & home.
All the Rivers by Dorit Rabinyan ($25, PB)
A chance encounter in New York brings Liat, an idealistic translation student, and Hilmi, a talented young painter, together. They explore the city, share fantasies, jokes & homemade meals, and fall in love. There is only one problem: Liat is from Israel, Hilmi from Palestine. The two lovers build an intimate universe for two in this city far from home. But outside reality can only be kept at bay for so long, and their points of difference—Liat’s military service & Hilmi’s hopes for Palestine’s future—threaten to overwhelm their shared present. Banned in Israeli schools for its frank & tender depiction of a taboo relationship.
Record Of A Night Too Brief by Hiromi Kawakami ($20, PB)
One morning, a woman treads on a snake. She comes home that evening and realises the snake has moved into her house and is saying she is her mother... So begins the story of a woman trying to live with a snake, with herself—or perhaps with something else altogether. Filled with fantastically multicoloured images and unexplained collapses in time and place, these are highly surreal, meticulously worked stories of longing and disappearance, love and loathing.
The World to Come by Jim Shepard
These ten stories ring with voices as diverse as those belonging to Arctic explorers in history’s most nightmarish expedition, the Montgolfier brothers competing to be the first man to fly, and two American frontierswomen whose passionate connection is severed by jealous husbands and a deadly snowstorm. In each case the personal is the political as these humans, while falling in love or negotiating marital pitfalls or simply coming to terms with their own failings, face the tidal wave of nature’s indifference and cruelty. History has swept them from our sympathy—Jim Shepard has reached into the past and sought them out. ($30, PB)
The Name on the Door is Not Mine by C. K. Stead This collection can be read as a meditation on the writerly life. It includes a number of new, previously unpublished stories, including Last Season’s Man, which won the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award, as well as older stories that have been revised & rewritten. Set in locations as diverse as the South of France, Sydney, Zagreb, Auckland, San Francisco & Oxford, each story is vividly drawn and stays with you long after reading. ($33, PB)
Charlotte by David Foenkinos ($25, PB)
Charlotte Salomon is born into a family stricken by suicide and a country at war—but there is something exceptional about her. She has a gift, a talent for painting. And she has a great love, for a brilliant, eccentric musician. But just as she is coming in to her own as an artist, death is coming to control her country. The Nazis have come to power and, a Jew in Berlin, her life is narrowing - she is kept from her art, torn from her love and her family, chased from her country. And still she is not safe, not from the madness that has hunted her family, or the one gripping Europe. Winner of the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens & the Prix Renaudot, translated by Sam Taylor (translator of HHhH)
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid ($33, PB) In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, Saeed and Nadia share a cup of coffee, and he makes her smile. A few days later they go for dinner, and over time they share many more meals. They try not to notice the sound of bombs getting closer every night, the radio announcing new laws, the public executions. Eventually the problem is too big to ignore: it’s not safe for Nadia to live alone, she must move in with Saeed’s family, even though they are not married and that too is a problem. Meanwhile, rumours are spreading of strange black doors in secret places across the city, doors that lead to London or San Francisco, Greece or Dubai. One day soon, when the streets are no longer usable, the time will come for Nadia and Saeed to seek out one such door, joining the great outpouring of those fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world.
Gleebooks’ special price $29.99
The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan
Kent, 1940. The women of Chilbury village have taken umbrage at the Vicar’s closure of the choir now that its male singers are at war. But when spirited music professor Primrose Trent arrives, it prompts the creation of an all-female singing group—the Chilbury Ladies’ Choir. Dependable Mrs Tilling sees the choir as a chance to finally put herself first, and a welcome distraction from thoughts of her son fighting on the front line. For Kitty Winthrop, the precocious youngest daughter of Chilbury Manor, singing is the only way to outshine her glamorous sister Venetia, who isn’t letting the war ruin her plan to make every bachelor in the county fall in love with her. Meanwhile, when midwife Edwina Paltry is presented with a dastardly job she’s convinced will make her rich, she will have to misuse more than the trust of the choir’s women to carry out her scheme. ($33, PB)
Now in B Format The Wandering Pine by Per Olov Enquist, $23 The North Water by Ian McGuire, $20 Hystopia by David Means, $23 Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler, $23 The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel, $24
1502 and Renaissance Italy is in turmoil. Backed by the money & power of his ageing father Pope Alexander VI, Cesare Borgia is carving out a state for the Borgia dynasty. From Florence, one Niccolo Machiavelli, is sent to shadow him to keep track of the danger. Machiavelli is entranced and the relationship he forges with Cesare allows him to witness history in the making. Meanwhile, the Pope’s beloved daughter Lucrezia is on her way to a third dynastic marriage in the state of Ferrara, where if she is to survive she must fast produce an heir for the rival Este family. Cesare holds his sister dear, but striving always for conquest rather than conciliation, he pays little mind to her precarious position. As the Borgia enemies gather, in Rome, the pope grows older and ever more cantankerous. ($30, PB)
In the Name of the Family by Sarah Dunant
Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal ($30, PB)
When Nikki takes a creative writing job at her local temple, with visions of emancipating the women of the community she left behind as a self-important teenager, she’s shocked to discover a group of barely literate women who have no interest in her ideals. Yet to her surprise, the white dupatta of the widow hides more than just their modesty – these are women who have spent their lives in the shadows of fathers, brothers and husbands; being dutiful, raising children and going to temple, but whose inner lives are as rich and fruitful as their untold stories. But as they begin to open up to each other about womanhood, sexuality, and the dark secrets within the community, Nikki realises that the illicit nature of the class may place them all in danger.
Join us for afternooon tea and listen to local Blue Mountains author Marilla North talk about her new book Yarn Spinners. Marilla will be in conversation with another local author Mary Moody - where they will discuss the essence of Vol 1 of Marilla’s biographical trilogy on the life and times of Dymphna Cusack and her writer colleagues - Miles Franklin and Florence James.
A Book Of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates ($30, PB)
Gus Voorhees is a pioneer in the advancement of women’s reproductive rights and a controversial abortion provider in the American Midwest. One morning as he arrives at his clinic, he is ambushed by a hardline Christian, Luther Dunphy, and shot dead. The killing leaves in its wake two fatherless families: the Voorheeses, who are affluent, highly educated, secular and pro-choice, and the Dunphys, their opposite on all counts. When the daughters of the two families, Naomi Voorhees and Dawn Dunphy, glimpse each other at the trial of Luther Dunphy, their initial response is mutual hatred. But their lives are tangled together forever by what has happened, and throughout the years to come and the events that follow, neither can quite forget the other.
Displaced by Stephan Abarbanell ($33, PB) It is 1946, and the full horrors of the previous six years are slowly coming to light. Elias Lind can’t accept that his brother Raphael died in a concentration camp, but, unable to search for him himself, he persuades a young member of the Jewish resistance to help. Lilya’s search for Raphael takes her from Jerusalem to the heart of political London, from US-controlled Munich to an overcrowded and underfunded displaced persons camp, and to the devastated shell of Berlin itself. But she isn’t the only one searching for the missing scientist—a mysterious pursuer is hot on her heels.
SUNDAY 26 FEBRUARY, 2017
2.30pm for 3.00pm start. Where: The New Ivanhoe Hotel, Blackheath Cost: $5 (includes afternoon tea & a lucky door prize). Bookings essential. Tickets available at Gleebooks Blackheath or phone Gleebooks on 4787 6340 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
THE WILDER AISLES
Just back from 3 weeks in India & Singapore. I’ve wanted to go to India for a while, but didn’t want to go on my own or on a tour, so when a friend suggested he be my tour guide, I was very happy to accept his offer. I must say I had a very good time—loved the country and the people, and am planning to go back next year. While in Kolkata I went to the Victoria Monument, a most impressive place, and there I learned about Rabindranath Tagore. I knew his poetry, but didn’t know his complete history—and I found what I read fascinating. So we went to the Oxford Bookshop to buy some of his poetry, and there I discovered he had written novels as well. I bought a volume of poetry and a novel called A Grain of Sand—the original title in Bengali is Chokher Bali, which can be translated as sand in the eye, an irritant, something that brings tears to the eyes. I won’t say too much about it, except to say it involves a happily married couple whose relationship becomes strained when a young attractive widow joins the household. Although written over 100 years ago, it is still very readable and as thought-proving as it was then. Not much reading was done during the trip—too much to do during the day, too tired at night. However, I did read quite a bit over the Christmas holidays. One of the books I read was Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett ($25). I don’t know exactly what else to say about this book—it has been widely reviewed, all consistently good. I think it is a kind of reading between the lines sort of book—what it doesn’t say is just as important as what it does. As I read I had the feeling that the little things of life were very important to Bennett. Living alone in Ireland, she writes about the things that are important to her—like a letter that she feels has lived long enough inside its envelope and needs to released. I loved that! The book could be seen as a meditation on the solitary life. It is a book that deserves a second or maybe even a third reading. A quote from the back cover; ‘English, strictly speaking, isn’t my first language, by the way. I haven’t yet discovered what my first language is, so for the time being I use English words in order to say things...’ Sort of sums the book up for me. My next book, Why Did You Lie ($33) by Icelandic crime writer Yrsa Sigurðardóttir was a really good read. The story revolves around a journalist who attempts suicide, an ordinary couple who return to Iceland from a house swap in the US to find their house a mess, the Americans missing and four people struggling to find shelter on windswept rock. The thing that ties this disparate group together is that they all lied. As a result someone is seeking revenge. How this all ties together makes for an exciting read. I really liked this book. I thought it clever and suspenseful, without being too violent and scary. Sigurdardottir’s next book, The Silence of the Sea, I found not as likeable, but just as clever and again full of suspense. I found the very tragic ending difficult and had to keep reminding myself it was just a novel.
Just by chance, I picked up a copy of A Siege of Bitterns: A Birder Murder Mystery ($20) by Steve Burrows. As you can guess by the subtitle this is a crime novel set among birders, serious bird watchers who keep a record of every bird they see, always looking for the most rare and always in competition to have more sightings than anyone else. This book, the first in a series, is set in Norfolk, in an area called Saltmarsh—a place of great special scientific interest. It consists of wetlands and marshes and is a prime breeding site for native and rare birds. The story concerns the threat to the area by financial concerns and corrupt local officials. DI Dominic JeJeune, newly arrived from Canada, is also a birder. In fact, as the story progresses, some of the members of the police force wonder if he is more concerned with finding birds than solving the mystery. However when a prominent ecological activist is murdered Jejeune has to give up the birds and concentrate on the crime. I loved the character of Dominic JeJeune. He is the quiet, thoughtful type, who uses his not unsubstantial intellect to solve the crimes. Burrows has so far written four birder books and I have read 2. The second is called A Pitying of Doves ($20)—even better than the first. So I am looking forward to the third, A Cast of Falcons ($17) and the fourth, A Shimmer of Hummingbirds. As you might have guessed, all titles are collective nouns, and at the end of the books, there is information about issues touched on in the novel—a lot of which makes pretty sad reading: the loss of habitat, the threat of more species becoming extinct. The first book revolves around the rare sighting of a Bittern and the second around turtledoves. These books are great fun. They are interesting and informative, and as I read my way through these stories I felt my knowledge of birds and birding being greatly increased. Most of the other books I read have been reviewed by numerous people so I will just mention a few of them: Margaret Drabble’s The Dark Flood Rises ($30—good, enjoyable); the latest in Ann Cleeves,’ Shetland series, Cold Earth ($30—loved this); Salley Vickers’s Cousins ($30—okay, but kept forgetting who everybody was); and Miller’s Valley by Anne Quindlen ($33—one of my favourite authors, can’t understand why she is not more widely read, loved this). Janice Wilder
To Know My Crime by Fiona Capp ($30, PB)
Having lost all his family’s money in ill-advised investments during the GFC, Ned is reduced to squatting in a boatshed in wealthy Portsea. He is avoiding the world, particularly his sister, Angela, who after an accident, is now a paraplegic, confined to a wheelchair. But one day, Ned overhears a conversation between a millionaire property developer and a politician, and realizes that this might be his opportunity to restore their fortunes—if he has the nerve. A nail-biting and compelling story of risk, blackmail and the corrosive nature of guilt—and how we all have to live with the consequences of our actions.
Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey ($30, PB) 18 year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home one day to find the house covered in blood and Kate, her mother, gone. There may not be a body, but everything else points to murder. Maeve Kerrigan is young, ambitious and determined to prove she’s up to her new role as detective sergeant. She suspects Chloe is holding something back, but best friend Bethany Norris won’t let Maeve get close. What exactly is Bethany protecting Chloe from? As she digs deeper into the tight-liupped residents of Valerian Road—all Maeve needs is one person to talk.
He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly ($30, PB) Who do you believe? In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, but later, in a panic, she tells a little white lie—and four lives are changed irreparably. 15 years on, Laura and Kit live in fear. And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something—and someone—is always in the dark.
The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths ($33, PB)
Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich’s web of underground tunnels. When Dr Ruth Galloway discovers they were recently buried, DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands. Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper. The only trace of her is talk that she’s gone ‘underground’. The rumours that the network of old chalk-mining tunnels under Norwich is home to a vast community of rough sleepers, the clues point in only one direction. Local academic Martin Kellerman knows all about the tunnels & their history—but can his assertions of cannibalism & ritual killing be true?
The Road to Ithaca by Ben Pastor ($18, PB)
In May 1941, Wehrmacht officer Bora is sent to Crete, recently occupied by the German army, and must investigate the brutal murder of a Red Cross representative befriended by SS-Chief Himmler. All the clues lead to a platoon of trigger-happy German paratroopers but the truth may be more complex. Bora takes to the mountains of Crete to solve the case, navigating his way between local bandits and foreign resistance fighters. Carrying Joyce’s Ulysses in his pocket, Bora starts a perilous odyssey of his own, complicated by the presence of his female travel companion, a Texas-born archaeologist with a proverbial curl on her forehead.
Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolás Obregón ($33, PB) Setagaya ward, Tokyo. Inspector Kosuke Iwata, newly transferred to Tokyo’s homicide department, is assigned a new partner—hard as nails and shunned by her colleagues, Assistant Inspector Noriko Sakai, and a 2nd hand case. A family of four murdered in their own home by a killer who then ate ice cream, surfed the web and painted a hideous black sun on the bedroom ceiling before he left in broad daylight. A case that so haunted the original investigator that he threw himself off the city’s famous Rainbow Bridge. Iwata’s progress is thwarted in the unlikeliest of places. Fearing corruption among his fellow officers, tracking a killer he’s sure is only just beginning and trying to put his own shattered life back together, Iwata knows time is running out before he’s taken off the case or there are more killings. Dodgers by Bill Beverly ($16, PB)
When East, a low-level lookout for a Los Angeles drug organisation, loses his watch house in a police raid, his boss recruits him for a very different job: a road trip—straight down the middle of white, rural America—to assassinate a judge in Wisconsin. East & a crew of untested boys—including his trigger-happy younger brother—set out in a nondescript blue van, with a roll of cash, a map and a gun they shouldn’t have. Along the way, the country surprises East. The blood on his hands isn’t the blood he expects. And he reaches places where only he can decide which way to go—or which person to become. Winner 2 CWA awards.
The Awkward Squad by Sophie Henaff ($33, PB) Suspended from her job as a promising police officer for firing ‘one bullet too many’, Anne Capestan is surprised to be told that she is to head up a new police squad, working on solving old cold cases. However she is not overjoyed when she meets her new team: a crowd of misfits, troublemakers and problem cases, none of whom are fit for purpose and yet none of whom can be fired. The old lady murdered 7 years ago, the dead sailor discovered in the Seine, and a ferry that was shipwrecked off the Florida coast many years ago throws up a number of strange & possibly linked mysteries for Capestan and her team.
Ragdoll by Daniel Cole ($30, PB) A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the ‘ragdoll’.Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter. The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them. With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?
March To-Read List
Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson ($20, PB)
1955. Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Hedinsfjörður. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. 50 years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have been alone on the fjord after all. In nearby Siglufjörður, young policeman Ari Thór tries to piece together what really happened that fateful night, in a town where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik, who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own.
The Long Drop by Denise Mina ($33, PB)
William Watt is an ordinary businessman, a fool, a social climber. Peter Manuel is a famous liar, a rapist, a criminal. He claims he can get hold of the gun used to murder Watt’s family. Watt wants answers—but Peter Manuel is a liar. One December night in 1957, Watt meets Manuel in a Glasgow bar to find out what he knows. Based on true events, The Long Drop is an extraordinarily unsettling, evocative and compelling novel.
From the bestselling, Man Booker shortlisted author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist, an astonishing new novel.
One of the world’s most original and provocative thinkers offers a major new account of the origins of the conscious mind.
A darkly compulsive story about records and race, music and murder, from the author of The Impressionist.
An inspirational and insightful guide for women who want to achieve more by doing less.
A gripping story of one woman’s fight against all odds, and a sweeping tribute to Australia’s landscape and its peoples.
The second book in The Monsarrat Series, not all murder victims are mourned, but the perpetrator must always be punished . . .
Truly the best of John Boyne hilarious, touching and deeply sad.
This is not a book that tells you to throw everything out and live austerely. The anti-perfectionist’s guide to getting – and staying – organised.
The Lost Book of the Grail The by Charlie Lovett
Arthur Prescott finds respite from the drudgery of his professorship in the Barchester Cathedral Library, where he researches the Holy Grail & his long-delayed guidebook for the medieval cathedral. His tranquillity is shattered by Bethany Davis, a young American academic who has come to digitise the library’s ancient manuscripts. But hostility turns to affection when Arthur discovers Bethany is a kindred spirit, a Grail fanatic. They begin a quest for the lost Book of Ewolda, which could reveal secrets about the cathedral & the Grail, and their connections to King Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table. As they delve into the past, the secret history of England—from the Norman invasion to the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution & the Blitz—is revealed. ($30, PB)
The Dark Room by Jonathan Moore ($30, PB) Homicide inspector Gavin Cain is standing by a grave when he gets the call. Cain knows there’s something terrible in the coffin they’re about to exhume. He and his team have received a dying man’s confession and it has led them here. Cain is summoned by Mayor Castelli, who has been sent sinister photographs of a woman that he claims he doesn’t know and a note threatening that worse are on their way. As Cain tries to identify the woman in the pictures, and looks into the mayor’s past, he finds himself being drawn towards a situation as horrifying and as full of secrets as the grave itself. Stasi Wolf by David Young ($30, PB)
How do you solve a murder when you can’t ask any questions? East Germany, 1975. Karin Muller, sidelined from the murder squad in Berlin, jumps at the chance to be sent south to Halle-Neustadt, where a pair of infant twins have gone missing. But Muller soon finds her problems have followed her. Halle-Neustadt is a new town—the pride of the communist state—and she and her team are forbidden by the Stasi from publicising the disappearances, lest they tarnish the town’s flawless image. Meanwhile, in the eerily nameless streets and tower blocks, a child snatcher lurks, and the clock is ticking to rescue the twins alive.
Corpus by Rory Clements ($30, PB) 1936. Europe is in turmoil. The Nazis have marched into the Rhineland. In Russia, Stalin has unleashed his Great Terror. Spain has erupted in civil war. In Berlin, a young Englishwoman evades the Gestapo to deliver vital papers to a Jewish scientist. Within weeks, she is found dead in her Cambridge bedroom, a silver syringe clutched in her fingers. When a renowned member of the county set and his wife are found horribly murdered, a maverick history professor finds himself dragged into a world of espionage which, until now, he has only read about in books. But the deeper Thomas Wilde delves, the more he wonders whether the murders are linked to the death of the girl with the silver syringe - and, just as worryingly, to the scandal surrounding King Edward VIII and his mistress Wallis Simpson.
The Knife Slipped by Erle Stanley Gardner ($17, PB) Lost for more than 75 years, The Knife Slipped was meant to be the second book in the series that featured the hardboiled detective team of Bertha Cool and Donald Lam, who appeared in more than two dozen adventures, but was shelved when Gardner’s publisher objected to (among other things) Bertha Cool’s tendency to ‘talk tough, swear, smoke cigarettes, and try to gyp people.’ But this tale of adultery and corruption, of double-crosses and triple identities—however shocking for 1939— shines today as a glorious present from the past, a return to the heyday of private eyes and shady dames, of powerful criminals, crooked cops, blazing dialogue, and delicious plot twists.
Read more at penguin.com.au
Only: A Singular Memoir by Caroline Baum
Three barely felt like a family. It felt like it did not count. Like we were unfinished. Incomplete. There was always a gap at the table, room to set places for others. Visitors were few and far between. Mostly, there was only me. Caroline Baum’s memoir is one of an unconventional childhood that explores what it means to be an Only Child—as both child and adult. Also what it means to be the daughter of two people damaged by trauma and tragedy, particularly a domineering and explosive father. This is for anyone who has felt they are the fulcrum of a seesaw, the focus of all eyes and expectations, torn between love and fear, obedience and rebellion, duty and the longing to escape—anyone who has felt the burden of trying to be a Good Daughter—what that means and why it is so hard. Revelatory, lyrical and unflinching. ‘A rich and rollicking tale that deepens into the tenderest of daughterly tributes.’ Helen Garner ($33, PB)
Tristimania: A Diary of Manic Depression by Jay Griffiths ($23, PB)
This is a stark and lyrical account of the psyche in crisis from the author of Kith. Jay Griffiths tells the story of a devastating year-long episode of manic depression, culminating in a long solo pilgrimage across Spain. Recording the experience of mania as has rarely been done before, Griffiths shows how the condition is at once terrifying and also profoundly creative, both tricking and treating the psyche. An intimate and raw journey, Tristimania illuminates something of the universal human spirit.
South of Forgiveness by Thordis Elva & Tom Stranger ($33, PB)
It wasn’t without fear that Thordis Elva kissed her three-yearold son and her loving partner goodbye before boarding a plane in Reykjavik, Iceland on March 27, 2013. The aim was to fly almost across the planet, meet up with the man who raped her when she was sixteen—and forgive him. Meanwhile in Sydney, Australia; Thomas Stranger, nervously boarded a plane, wondering if he was worthy of this meeting. Is healing possible if you can’t fathom forgiving yourself? This journey was the careful result of a written correspondence that had lasted 8 years. After covering hundreds of letters with searing honesty in a dialogue between survivor & perpetrator, they decided it was time to see each other face to face. This a unique collaboration between survivor and perpetrator equally committed to shedding light into the dark corners of humanity.
Now Way But This: In Search of Paul Robeson by Jeff Sparrow ($33, PB)
Paul Robeson was an actor and performer, a champion athlete, a committed communist, a brilliant speaker, and a passionate activist for social justice in America, Europe, and Australia. life took him from North Carolina plantations to Hollywood; from the glittering stages of London to the coal-mining towns of Wales; from the violent frontiers of the Spanish Civil War to bleak prison cells in the Soviet Union; from Harlem’s jazz-infused neighbourhoods to the courtroom of the McCarthy hearings. Yet privately Robeson was a troubled figure, burdened by his role as a symbol for the African American people and an international advocate for the working class. Jeff Sparrow follows the ghosts and echoes of Robeson’s career, tracing his path through countries and decades, to explore the contemporary resonances of his politics and passions.
Red Danube: A Hungarian Memoir by Vera Hartley ($29.95, PB)
Vera Hartley charts one Hungarian Jewish family’s experience of the calamitous events of the 20th century. She intertwines politics and history with fly-on-the-wall glimpses of life spiced by a challenging elationship between herself and her mother, Erzsi.The stroke of a pen in the signing of a treaty, or a small change in the law, for some citizens meant the loss of a way of life, or status, or security. Hartley traces stories of betrayal & unexpected grace, loss of trust and kindness from odd corners, the loss of identiry & the finding of a new one. Hartley’s fallible characters are brought to life through tales peppered with a wry humour.
Mrs Kelly: The Astonishing Life of Ned Kelly’s Mother by Grantlee Kieza ($40, HB)
When Ned Kelly’s mother, Ellen, arrived in Melbourne in 1841 aged nine, British convict ships were still dumping their unhappy cargo in what was then known as the colony of New South Wales. By the time she died aged ninety-one in 1923, having outlived seven of her twelve children, motor cars plied the highway near her bush home north of Melbourne, and Australia was a modern, sovereign nation. She lived through famine and drought, and watched her babies die. One son became Australia’s most infamous (and ultimately most celebrated) outlaw; another became a highly decorated policeman. Not just the story of Australia’s most notorious women and her wild family, this is also the story of the making of Australia, from struggling colony and backwater to modern nation.
The Green Bell by Paula Keogh ($30, PB)
It’s 1972 in Canberra. Michael Dransfield is being treated for a drug addiction; Paula Keogh is delusional & grief-stricken. They meet in a psychiatric unit of the Canberra Hospital & instantly fall in love. Paula recovers a self that she thought was lost; Michael, a radical poet, is caught up in a rush of creative energy & writes poems that become The Second Month of Spring. Together, they plan for ‘a wedding, marriage, kids—the whole trip’. But outside the hospital walls, madness, grief & drugs challenge their luminous dream The Green Bell explores the ways that extreme experience can change us: expose our terrors and open us to ecstasy for the sake of a truer life, a reconciliation with who we are—ultimately, this is a requiem for lost friends. A coming of age story that takes a lifetime.
Past Mortems: Life Behind the Mortuary Door by Carla Valentine ($33, PB)
These days Carla Valentine is Technical Curator at Barts Pathology Museum, with over 5000 specimens in her care, from teeth to toes, but her gap year was spent as an embalmers assistant, after which she trained and subsequently worked as a mortuary technician. This memoir tells the story of her years in the mortuary—how surprised people would be when the door was opened by a 5 ft 3 blonde, rather than Lurch; that pathologists prefer Volvos and why you should call the coroner when you find buried treasure. Valentine also explores how we examine the dead—starting with the Y-incision and moving through every part of anatomy—and investigates the body alongside our present and historical attitudes towards death, shedding light on what the living can learn from dead—and the toll it can take on those living souls who work with them..
The Raqqa Diaries: Escape From Islamic State by Samer ($25, PB)
Since ISIS occupied Raqqa in eastern Syria, it has become one of the most isolated and fear-ridden cities on earth. The sale of televisions has been banned, wearing trousers the wrong length is a punishable offence, and using a mobile phone is considered an unforgivable crime. No journalists are allowed in and the penalty for speaking to the western media is death by beheading. Despite this, after several months of nervy and often interrupted conversations, the BBC was able to make contact with a small activist group, Al-Sharqiya 24.—and courageously, one of their members agreed to write a personal diary about his experiences. Having seen friends & relatives butchered, his community’s life shattered & the local economy ruined by these hate-fuelled extremists, Samer is fighting back in the only way he can: by telling the world what is happening to his beloved city.
Scoundrel Days by Brentley Frazer ($30, PB)
Tom Sawyer on acid, a 21st-century On the Road, a Holden Caulfield for punks. Brentley Frazer tells the story of his youth – wild, disillusioned, impassioned and desolate. Born into a Christian cult in outback Queensland, Frazer escapes through literature and poetry, drugs and violence, sex and alcohol; and his ensuing rejection of religion, authority and the ‘way things are’ leads to adventures, desperation and, just possibly, redemption.
By the Olive Groves: A Calabrian Childhood by Grazia Ietto-Gillies ($39, HB)
In 1939 a girl was born in the wild Aspromonte mountains of Calabria, a land haunted by history & suffused with tradition but weighed down by poverty & the ever-present mafia. As the tremors of WWII shake the heart of Calabria, so the little girl’s childhood unfolds. Her life is simple, revolving around school, friendship, family. At its heart is the kitchen where the dramas & joys of family life are played out & where her mother, Giulia, creates the food around which everything revolves. Grazia Ietto-Gillies remembers her youth in Calabria, from childhood sickness & her eccentric extended family to the excitement of religious festivals, near-constant struggle with poverty and an incident with the Ndrangheta, Calabria’s mafia. At 60, she realises that Calabria has defined everything she has ever done and that she has never really left the mountains of her childhood.
And Then I Found Me by Noel Tovey ($33, PB)
Noel Tovey’s previous memoir, Little Black Bastard chronicled his life from a childhood lived in poverty, through to his international stage career, return to Australia & eventual reconciliation with his past. This new book is the triumphant story of his stellar career in London as an actor, singer, dancer, choreographer, director & curator. For more than 30 years, his stage productions reached audiences across Europe, South Africa and Australia. Martin Luther King’s assassination, the dismantling of apartheid, the criminalisation of homosexuality and the rise of AIDS create a backdrop to this bold recollection of glamour and politics.
Reissued this month The Poison Principle: A Memoir About Family Secrets and Literary Poisonings by Gail Bell, $25
The People Elsewhere by Lucas Stewart ($30, PB)
‘Over Red Ruby cigarettes, Sayar gave me a copy of an A to Z biography of Burmese-language writers he had edited, and my thoughts drifted to writers elsewhere . . .’ In a five year journey all across Myanmar, Lucas Stewart travels from Yangon in the south to the northern limits of Kachin State in search of the literary luminaries of the country’s recent past. He bonds with censored & jailed writers, poets, publishers & booksellers, recording their stories of heritage & resilience. In his conversations with students at an Aung San Suu Kyi rally or sharing stories with a Kayah farmer in his village house, the long-suppressed literatures & languages of minorities such as the Chin, Kachin, Shan & others shine through.
The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel
In 1986, 20 year-old Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the woods. He would not speak to another human being until 3 decades later when he was arrested for stealing food. Christopher survived by developing ingenious ways to store food and water in order to avoid freezing to death in his tent during the harsh Maine winters. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothes, reading material & other provisions, taking only what he needed. In the process, he unwittingly terrified a community unable to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life & the challenges he faced returning to the world. ($30, PB)
Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe by Kapka Kassabova ($35, PB)
The borderzone between Bulgaria, Turkey & Greece was once rumoured to be an easier crossing point into the West than the Berlin Wall so it swarmed with soldiers, spies & fugitives. Today, this densely forested landscape is no longer heavily militarised, and Kapka Kassabova sets out on a journey to meet the people of this triple border—Bulgarians, Turks, Greeks, indigenous Balkan Muslims, and the latest wave of refugees fleeing conflict further afield. She discovers a region that has been shaped by the successive forces of history: by its own past migration crises, by communism, by Nazi occupation, by the Ottoman Empire, by an ancient legacy of myths & legends. It is also a land rich with curative springs and Thracian tombs; home to psychic healers and Europe’s last fire- worshippers.
Havana: A Subtropical Delirium by Mark Kurlansky ($36, HB)
Like all great cities, Havana has a rich history that informs the vibrant place it is today—from the native Taino to Columbus’s landing, from Cuba’s status as a US protectorate to Batista’s dictatorship and Castro’s revolution, from Soviet presence to the welcoming of capitalist tourism. Mark Kurlansky presents an insider’s view of Havana—the elegant, tattered city he has come to know over more than 30 years. Part cultural history, part travelogue, with recipes, historic engravings, photographs, and Kurlansky’s own pen-and-ink drawings throughout, Havana celebrates the city’s singular music, literature, baseball, and food; its five centuries of outstanding, neglected architecture; and its extraordinary blend of cultures.
Loitering with Intent: Diary of A Happy Traveller by Ritu Menon ($25, PB)
Ritu Menon, publisher by profession & traveller by vocation, says she never travels alone when she travels for pleasure. So it is in the company of friends & family that she takes journeys across the world: wine-tasting in France; discovering the serenity of the Buddha in Bagan in Myanmar; roaming the leafy green streets of Zamalek in Egypt; tasting cream teas & cakes in Betty’s Tearoom in York, and many other delightful experiences. Along the way she manages to catch a glimpse of the people & politics that animate each of her travels: Egypt after the January 2011 overthrow of Hosni Mubarak; Syria before the IS; the continuing heartbreak of Palestine; Turkey in transition; and Myanmar on the cusp of change.
In a rambling old house in Geologue Bay, Iris’s loved ones gather in the family home for one last time, one last weekend and one last party. Only Rosa is missing. The family matriarch is reliving her past and the secrets – involving two men and two earthquakes – that she may never get to share.
‘An intricate, intimate novel – and utterly humane.’ Anna Smaill ‘I wanted to stay wrapped in that house by the sea …’ Myfanwy Jones ALSO BY TRACY FARR
Return to Moscow by Tony Kevin ($30, PB) 48 years ago, a young & apprehensive Tony Kevin set off with his family on his first diplomatic posting—to Moscow at the height of the Cold War. In the Russian winter of 2016 he returns alone, a private citizen aged 73, and applies his attention to Vladimir Putin’s Russia— a government & nation routinely demonised & disdained in Western capitals. Kevin invites readers to see this great nation anew: to explore with him the complex roots of Russian national identity & values, drawing on its traumatic recent 70 year Soviet Communist past and its momentous thousand-year history as a great Orthodox Christian nation that has both loved and feared ‘the West’, and which the West has loved and feared back in equal measure. 30-Second New York by Sarah Fenton ($20, HB) 30-Second London by Edward Dennison ($20, HB)
Discover underground, the secret, the suburban, and much more about these 2 great cities on a revealing whistlestop city tour—the 50 key visions, events and architects that shaped each city, all explained in half a minute
books for kids to young adults
compiled by Lynndy Bennett, our children's correspondent
Hooray for Birds! by Lucy Cousins ($25, HB)
In my opinion Lucy Cousins really can’t go wrong. Her use of colour and simple clear shapes succeed in enticing the reader into the book—whether it’s Maisie the mouse, a naughty woodpecker, colourful fish, or, in her latest book, beautiful vivid birds. Like a lot of her books, this story starts on the end papers, which are covered in a panoply of birds. The birds wake up, they fly through the day, and then they go to bed—the birds on the back endpapers are all sleeping (except for the owl). Each bird is instantly recognisable, whether it’s a hen, or a flamingo, an owl or an eagle. Wonderfully large type sings against the vibrantly coloured backgrounds, making it a pleasure to read this book aloud. Very highly recommended for babies to 5 year olds. Louise
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng ($17, PB)
Have you ever wanted to know a fictional character in the real world? Cheng’s debut stars 11-year-old Alex Petroski, who is so naïve, intelligent and sweetly optimistic I just wanted to hug and reassure him. Sole carer of his mother, obsessed with astronomy, Alex records his life as a series of podcasts to send into space when he and his dog Carl Sagan get to an interstate rocket festival. After attending to all imagined contingencies, Alex sets out with Carl to the festival, where Alex meets his online friends and beguiles devoted new ones, who help him investigate his (supposedly dead) father and search for Carl, who disappears. Already compared with Palacio’s Wonder, this refreshing novel has an unforgettable protagonist and lashings of charm. Five stars! Lynndy
Frogkisser! by Garth Nix ($20, PB)
In a return to the playful irreverent humour of his early books, Nix’s latest has the homeliness of Shrek blended into a fantasy that retains the spirit of fairy tales from which it originates. Into a cauldron put marriage suitors, a quest, the transformation of a prince into a frog, magical spells, an heroic princess, assorted talking animals and frogs. Add more frogs. Rile up the princess. Agitate all ingredients gently, and take in one sitting. Guaranteed to draw out all ills and imbue the reader with abundant laughter and lightness of heart. Joyously compelling. Lynndy
100 Women Who Made History: Remarkable Women Who Shaped Our World ($30, HB) A big, bright book jam-packed with wonderful women! Handily divided into categories and appealingly strewn with interesting graphics, info boxes and amusing portraits, this is as good for casual reading as it is indispensable for primary school projects.
Amazing Women: Discover Inspiring Life Stories by Caryn Jenner ($13, HB)
Aimed at a slightly younger audience, this is a large-print, colourful and clear reader (Level 4, to be precise) that will inspire girls everywhere to aim high. If they can see it, they can be it!
coming s oon
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women (eds) Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo ($33, HB)
This book made crowdfunding history when the authors raised over one million dollars to get their project off the ground! 100 bedtime stories— illustrated by 60 different artists from all over the globe—that read like fairy tales, with lady luminaries from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams and everyone in between.
more great reads
The Littlest Family’s Big Day by Emily Winfield Martin
Emily Winfield Martin gained enormous popularity with her winsome pictures on her blog, The Black Apple. Her pictures of children are big eyed and whimsical, and quite of the moment. But in her most recent book, The Littlest Family’s Big Day ($30, HB), she has created a really sweet, memorable book about animals, and mainly a family of little bears. We know they’re little because there is an inch measure on the edges of the dust jacket, and the Littlest Family is on the endpapers, lining up with a few friends. They all come in at under six inches (apart from a friendly owl). After the family move into a new place in the woods—in the trunk of a tree—the intrepid bears go for a wander in their new neighbourhood, and then they find a river ‘deep and wild’… With wonderfully lush pictures of the forest and its inhabitants, and with a stunning double page pull-out, Emily Martin has created a really magical world that will entrance small children. This is a picture book with heart, and the fact that the illustrations are done by hand contributes greatly to its sense of mystery and enchantment. Very highly recommended for 3-8 year olds. ($30, HB) Louise
Labyrinth: Find Your Way Through 14 Magical Mazes by Theo Guignard
Far more than a simple activity book, Labyrinth contains mazes that are increasingly complex, as well as objects to spot and tasks to complete. In depicting the mazes Guignard plays with perspective and hides additional details, creating individual storylines. It really is fun for all the family. ($25, HB) Lynndy
the future is female
One of the best things about working in an independent book shop is having the autonomy to order one’s favourite books for stock, put them on display and share them with one’s customers. This pleasure turned to slight frustration, however, when I found I was trotting out the same excellent but woefully small selection of feminist-friendly titles year after year. This did seem to coincide, unsurprisingly, with a general disdain for feminism in the wider culture (oh, sorry, the ‘post-feminism’ era. *eye-roll*). I’m happy to say, things have certainly changed! This year, due to a recent resurgence in feminist activity and its concomitant effect on the publishing industry, our display table will be positively overflowing with new and wonderful titles for you to enjoy! It’s never too early (or late) to introduce children to the often overlooked but salient contributions of women and, especially in today’s political landscape, to impress upon them the importance of gender equality.
Women In Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky ($28, HB)
Lovingly illustrated, well-written and beautifully produced, this book is something special! The clever infographics and distinctive illustrations will delight and encourage any little one with an interest in the STEM fields. Has to be seen to be appreciated. Highly recommended!
Laurinda by Alice Pung ($20, PB)
This is a darkly funny, insightful young adult novel narrated by Lucy after a scholarship sends her to Laurinda (an exclusive school for girls). Alice Pung examines Lucy’s developing relationships with new classmates and teachers, and contrasts these with old friendships and family obligations. Its focus on class and race works particularly well. Extremely affecting and highly recommended. 12+ Josh
Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson et al ($27, PB)
This is a graphic novel series with fantasy elements, featuring members of an all-girl scout cabin and their cabin leader. They inevitably stumble into fights with monsters, tangles with gods, and encounters with a mysterious bear-woman. The bright, everchanging art styles complement a highly diverse and adorable cast of characters. 8+ Tilda
Amazing Babes ($25, HB); Because I Am a Girl I Can Change the World ($31, HB); Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World ($15, PB); Girls Are Best ($18, PB); Girls Who Looked Under Rocks ($16, PB); Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women ($22.95, PB); Girls Who Rocked the World ($17, PB); The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure ($20, PB); Little People, Big Dreams series ($20, HB); Malala Yousafzai: Warrior With Words ($22, PB); Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey & Birute Galdikas ($23, PB); Rad Women Worldwide: Artists & Athletes, Pirates & Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History ($33, HB) .... and so many, many more! Please ask your friendly independent bookseller for further advice. And Happy International Women’s Day! Hannah
Food, Health & Garden
Time to Die by Rodney Syme ($33, PB)
Medical science now allows us to live longer than ever before. So living with pain and dying well have become major concerns for the general community, health practitioners, church groups and politicians. Should these issues be decided in private by individuals or must we legislate ethical guidelines? Rodney Syme has been an advocate for medically assisted dying for more than twenty years. In Time to Die he reflects on those living and dying in pain and shares their stories. Syme makes a powerful case for extending the right to die to those whose suffering is unbearable.
The Art of Discarding by Nagisa Tatsumi ($25, PB)
In this era of mass consumption, we are all drowning in ‘stuff’, despite our best efforts to keep on top of the clutter that collects in our homes, our office spaces & even our cars. This book offers practical advice & techniques to help readers learn to let go of stuff that is holding them back, as well as advice on acquiring less in the first place; if we buy less, there’s less to get rid of. Tatsumi takes readers through a step-by-step process of getting rid of household items, clothes, books—and promises a clutter-free, calmer life where we are free from ‘accumulation syndrome’ & ultimately, less is more.
A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind by Emily Reynolds ($33, PB)
After years of trying—and failing—to cope with her symptoms, Emily Reynolds was finally diagnosed as bipolar in her early twenties. Living with mental illness is isolating, infuriating & painful—but also very boring and, sometimes, kind of gross. This blackly funny, compassionate and extremely practical companion make the journey feel a little less lonely. It offers advice on; How to deal with exam pressure at school & university; Handling self-harm & suicidal thoughts; Advice for your family & friends; Tips for dating when you are mentally ill (and what to expect when you’re on the other side); Learning how to navigate the internet & the online mental health community; Advice on diagnosis, treatment & maintaining your mental health.
RHS Allotment Handbook & Planner: The Expert Guide for Every Fruit and Veg Grower ($20, PB)
Written by the Royal Horticultural Society’s foremost fruit and veg experts, this book provides the lifestyle-changing advice that gardeners need for growing a year-round supply of healthy, edible crops for their garden. With RHS tried-and-tested varieties, this book covers what to grow, how and where to grow it. Exploring best practice growing advice, allotment life and its numerous benefits, this book also includes a month-by-month calendar of tasks to guide gardeners through the year.
Happy Kitchen: Good Mood Food by Rachel Kelly & Alice Mackintosh ($35, PB)
Your gut is responsible for producing around 90% of your serotonin, the chemical which makes you feel good? Since suffering her last serious bout of depression in 2011, Rachel Kelly has worked with nutritionist & food doctor Alice Mackintosh. Together, they have built up a repertoire of recipes that target particular symptoms, from insomnia & mood swings to stress & exhaustion. In chapters ranging from Steady Energy and Beating the Blues to Finding Comfort, they put all the theory into practice, setting out how you can incorporate it into your daily life.
Little Korea by Simon Park ($40, HB) Not only is Korean food diverse and the flavours distinct, but the dishes are simple to create at home too. Little Korea contains the most popular Korean dishes eaten everyday on the streets and in homes across the nation. No kitchen gadgetry or trickery is required—this is food with a singular mission: to deliver maximum flavour and texture in a simple way. Practical Latin for Gardeners by James Armitage
This book contains 1,500 of the most useful and widespread Latin names, organised into thematic chapters including Colour, Plant Form and Habitat. Each chapter is divided into smaller groups, such as large plants and small plants, allowing gardeners to make new connections and discoveries in a way standard alphabetical lists simply don’t permit. ($25, PB)
Cook Japan, Stay Slim, Live Longer by Reiko Hashimoto
Reiko Hashimoto explores the benefits of the Japanese diet—slim physique, stable blood sugar, increased joint flexibility & a longer lifespan—and provides an insight into key Japanese fresh & store cupboard essentials. Debunking the myths surrounding the complexity & accessibility of Japanese food, the 100 recipes included here are constructed with easy to follow instructions & vary from basics to technically complex, perfect for all those wishing to perfect the art of Japanese home cooking. Beautiful photography from Jodi Hinds complements Reiko’s recipes & introductions. ($35, HB)
AWW The Vegan Kitchen: 130+ Wholefood Recipes for a Plant-based Diet ($50, HB)
The vegan way of eating is nothing new, but these days it is much easier to not only eliminate meat from your diet, but also dairy & eggs. This new cookbook offers the long-time vegan & those just starting out, fresh recipe ideas using ‘new’ alternative ingredients readily available in most supermarkets. There are also recipes for making your own yoghurt, cheese, mayonnaise & ice-cream—all free of animal products.
The Rituals of Dinner by Margaret Visser
The preeminent observer & scholar of everyday life, Margaret Visser takes on the sweeping history of table manners, from the civilizations of ancient Greece & medieval Europe to the way that technology has altered, and continues to alter, our behaviour over dinner. Visser writes of everything from cultural idiosyncrasies around preparation & consumption, to the surprising origins of tableware—forks took 8 centuries to become common utensils, the plate began as a 4-day-old slice of bread. Blending folklore, history & humour, this is a feast of fact & observation on one of our most primal rituals: the meal. This 25th anniversary, edition features a new introduction by Bee Wilson. ($25, PB)
The Urban Farmer: How to Create a Productive Garden in Any Space by Justin Calverley with Ceres ($40, PB)
Producing your own fruit, vegetables, herbs, eggs & honey is perfectly possible in a suburban space, and this practical guide will help urban dwellers develop a more sustainable existence. With a deep knowledge of permaculture & organic gardening, horticultural expert Justin Calverley shows you how to establish a diverse urban farm, whether in your own backyard, a courtyard or even a balcony. As well as growing fruit & veg, Calverley also explains how to take up bee-keeping, chook care, propagation, maintaining your plot & preserving your patch’s bounty.
The Hill End Table by Lino Alvarez & Kim Deacon ($60, HB)
Lino Alvarez and Kim Deacon were at the forefront of an exodus of artists over the last twenty years, seeking a more organic lifestyle in the historic gold mining town of Hill End, in Central West, NSW. At La Paloma Pottery, next to their 1865 wattle & daub miner’s cottage, Kim & Lino have created the sensuous clay cooking pots & tableware that add flavour & authenticity to their delicious mix of Mexican inspired & international dishes. Their indoor & outdoor kitchens are a meeting place for like-minded spirits—family & friends, local descendants of the original residents of Hill End, and distant artists. This lavishly illustrated book, rich in both fine & culinary art, allows readers the chance to join that table, for an aromatic mix of Art, Food and Fire.
Comfort Eating with Nick Cave: Vegan Recipes to Get Deep Inside of You Automne Zingg & Joshua Ploeg ($23, PB)
Poor Nick Cave. He’s sitting all alone, eating frosting with a spoon. Now you can join him as he soothes himself with a giant bowl of mashed potatoes, a tofu dog, peanut butter from the jar, spicy potato chips, or veggie pot pies. The illustrations and recipes with Comfort Eating with Nick Cave are the perfect accompaniment to his music. When despair and deception come aknockin’ at your door, get a giant cinnamon roll inside of you. By following the recipes and sighing at the illustrations in this book, you can feed your sorrows with delicious vegan comfort food classics right along with Nick. Also Available from Zingg & Ploeg: Defensive Eating with Morrissey: Vegan Recipes from the One You Left Behind ($23).
Out this Month: Lucky Peach Issue 22: Chicken (eds) David Chang etal ($23, PB) Istanbul Cult Recipes by Pomme Larmoyer
Istanbul’s long-standing love affair with food is reflected in the delicacies on offer at all hours of the day and night. Take your pick of lively Turkish breakfasts; linger over delectable little plates of meze; try your hand at making breads and kebabs sold from the city’s food carts, and master the art of making sweets such as baklava, helva & Turkish delight. ($50, HB)
Sweet Greek Life by Kathy Tsaples ($49.95, HB) Being Greek is about celebrating life, it’s about spreading the table with delicious dishes bringing everyone together, feasting, laughing, drinking, listening to music, singing and dancing. The recipes that I have chosen to include in this book hold a lot of meaning for me. Some, are more traditional, others are more simple, and some are from my travels in Greece. All the dishes, apart from being delicious are simple, pragmatic and achievable in your own kitchen.
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Event—6 for 6.30 Grantlee Kieza
Mrs Kelly: The Astonishing Life of Ned Kelly’s Mother In conv. with David Hunt This is the story of one of Australia’s most notorious women, but it is also the story of so many of Australia’s pioneering women, & it’s the story of the making of Australia, from struggling colony and backwater to modern nation.
Event—6 for 6.30 Caroline Baum
Mabo: A Symb Launchers: La and Susan This book has been resource in school This revised edition analysis of Comm [No 2] & the Nat (Cth), along with native title in the c
Only: A Singular Memoir In conv. with Jane Caro Caroline Baum’s fascinating and moving memoir about being an only child in a very unusual family. ‘A rich and rollicking tale that deepens into the tenderest of daughterly tributes.’ Helen Garner
Event—6 for 6.30 Tony Kevin
Return to Moscow In conv. with Monica Attard 48 years ago, a young and apprehensive Tony Kevin set off with his family on his first diplomatic posting, to Moscow at the height of the Cold War. In the Russian winter of 2016 he returns alone, a private citizen aged 73. How has Russia changed since those grim Soviet days?
Event—6 for 6.30 David Marr
QE65: On Politics & Prejudice Solo Talk Pauline Hanson is not alone out there. At stake are the progressive hopes of most Australians, hopes held hostage more than ever to the fears, especially the race fears, of old Australia. David Marr examines the peculiar power of the fearful in this confident & prosperous nation.
Repaying A Conservat Launcher: K From his early y Districk of the UK the Australian Co dation this is a pe memoir which also sage on how to sav the excesse
The Woolgrowe Launcher: Ni A gripping love sto fight to save her ho ate tribute to Aus and its peoples. Jo journey in researc the book, and the s rative by he
All events listed are $12/$9 concession. Book Launches are free. Gleeclub members free entry to events at 49 Glebe Pt Rd
Events are held upstairs at #49 Glebe Point Road unless otherwise noted. Bookings—Phone: (02) 9660 2333, Email: email@example.com, Online: www.gleebooks.com.au/events
—6 for 6.30 Flood
10 Event—6 for 6.30
12 Launch—3.30 for 4
17 Launch—6 for 6.30
18 Launch—3.30 for 4
19 Launch—3.30 for 4
Gender Regulation, Violence and Social Hierarchies in School: ‘Sluts’, ‘Gays’ and ‘Scrubs’ Launchers: Prof. Deb Hayes Victoria Rawlings investigates why traditional understandings of bullying continue to fail those affected, and illustrates how bullying is shaped by prominent discourse.
The Sherbrooke Brothers This is a powerful coming-of-age story that blends elements of gothic fiction and contemporary literature. Delivering parallel storylines, the narrative portrays the life-changing experiences of 17 year-old Alex and his older brother Rob as they embark upon separate journeys.
Face to Face with Practice This book is about making a difference: a difference to the ways that management is practiced; a difference to the experience of the manager—and a difference towards a more humane & thoughtful approach to managing our society today.
—6 for 6.30 f Mosley
26 Launch—4 for 4.30
—6 for 6.30 hoades
bol of Struggle arissa Behrendt n Phillips n a valued teaching ls across Australia. n features updated monwealth v Mabo tive Title Act 1993 an examination of courts since Mabo.
My Debt: tionist’s Tale Kate Smolski years in the Peak K to his work with onservation Founersonal & political o outlines his mesve the Planet from es of today.
er’s Companion ikki Christer ory of one woman’s ome and a passionstralia’s landscape oy will discuss her ching and writing shaping of the narer research.
Launch—6 for 6.30 Sue Woolfe
Do You Love Me or What? Launcher: Stephen Sewell A brilliant collection of eight sparkling short stories by the bestselling, award-winning author of Leaning Towards Infinity, The Painted Woman and The Secret Cure.
Graeme Macrae Burnet
Launch—3.30 for 4 His Bloody Project Luke Fischer In conv. with Stephen Romei A Personal History of Vision 1869, Roderick Macrae is arrested Panel: Peter Boyle, Brook Emery for a brutal triple murder. Using the words of the accused, personal testi& Deborah Bird Rose mony, transcripts from the trial and This is the fourth book and second newspaper reports, Graeme Macrae collection of poems by poet and phiBurnet tells a moving story about losopher, Luke Fischer. the provisional nature of the truth, even when the facts are plain. Victoria Rawlings
Creative Writing Workshop for Beginners Thur 30: 4–5.30 Joy Rhoades
The Woolgrower’s Companion Lawyer-turned-writer Joy Rhoades will introduce the basics of creative writing. Attendees will have some fun putting words on paper, in a supportive & inclusive atmosphere. Workshop capped at 20 Free—to the first 20 callers.
QuestionTime! A Game of Australian Politics The 2nd edition with the Hon. John Faulkner presiding Filibusters welcome
Steven Segal Claire Jankelson
Metronome Launcher: Robert Adamson This collection features intimate conversations about power & policy between contemporary figures & their historical counterparts, Jeremy Corbyn & Constance Markievicz, Eleanor Roosevelt &Hillary Clinton, Jane Austen & Tanya Plibersek to name a few.
In Early April
Sat. April 1: Greek Festival, 4–5.30 Tue. April 4: Nikki Gemmell (see Da-
vid’s review of After P.2)
Wed. April 5: Bernadette Brennan
(see David’s review of A Writing Life: Helen Garner & her Work P.2) Thur. April 6: Susi Prescott (memoir: Where Hummingbirds Dance)
Granny’s Good Reads with Sonia Lee I’d never have thought that I’d spend a whole month totally absorbed in a book on genetics. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Gene: An Intimate History ($25, B format due 5.17) begins with his own family history of near-relations suffering from mental illness, and then charts the long search for the basis of heredity, all the way from Gregor Mendel’s research on pea-hybrids to the discovery of the structure of DNA and the subsequent Genome-mapping projects, including the recently completed Human Genome Project. In 1905 the geneticist William Bateson predicted that once the facts of heredity were known, mankind would be sure to interfere, and so it has proved. The first half of the 20th century was blighted by ‘eugenics’ programs with sinister outcomes including (in the USA) sterilisation of the ‘genetically defective’ and (in Nazi Germany) mass murder. The Human Genome Project has led to the discovery of recombinant DNA, which in turn has led to the production of clones, the manufacture of drugs like insulin in test tubes, the genetic modification of plants and animals and even the patenting of genes. I found especially interesting the chapters on IQ, the discovery of the Y chromosome, genetic research on identical twins reared apart, and the quest for a ‘gay’ gene. The problem of trans-gender humans is exhaustively and sympathetically discussed. The question ‘What is due to nature and what to nurture?’ is still hotly debated, as responses to the publication of this book showed. For example, do our genes predispose us to altruism, religious belief, political commitment and artistic sensitivity, as well as giving us our physical characteristics? How much of a difference does environment, chance, or even accident, make? At another level, how useful will gene therapy be in saving patients from diseases like cancer, muscular dystrophy and auto-immune conditions? In 1924 JBS Haldane contended that once the power to control genes was harnessed, ‘no beliefs, no values, no institutions are safe’. Mukherjee agrees, maintaining that genetic theory is one of the most powerful and dangerous ideas in the whole history of science. One thing I did not know is that mitochondria (the ‘batteries’ and metabolism regulators of our cells) are hardly ever transmitted by males, but are normally passed to offspring through the female line. So, if a mother only has sons her mitochondria die out, which has led geneticists to conclude that modern humans have descended from one ‘Mitochondrial Eve’, possibly a lady from somewhere in West Africa. Mukherjee also tells us that the male sex gene is buried precariously on the Y chromosome, so that males ‘barely made it’. There’s a useful glossary of scientific terms for when the reader gets bamboozled. I was so impressed by The Gene that I went on to read The Emperor of all Maladies ($23), Mukherjee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning history of cancer, a deeply humane ‘biography’ of cancer with many case studies. Both of these books are riveting reads.
Russians seem to have endurance buried deep in their DNA. In Secondhand Time ($35) Svetlana Alexievich illustrates this in her oral history of the ‘Last of the Soviets’. Alexievich was born in the Ukraine in 1948 to a Ukrainian mother and a Belarusian father but writes in Russian. Between 2000 and 2011 she lived in exile, mainly in Western Europe, and has dedicated herself to capturing the voices of those who lived, suffered or prospered after the disintegration of the USSR, when rampant capitalism allowed oligarchs to plunder the wealth of the country. Her book is made up of interviews recorded over thirty years up to 2010 and skilfully presented so as to give the voices free rein. Many of the interviews are ‘kitchen conversations’ conducted with the water running to swamp possible listening devices. Alexievich also gives a welcome timeline of events in the USSR after Stalin’s death. Russians of course knew of the executions and the gulags, but in that bygone age they also had hope and pride in ‘the Motherland’. Though they lacked even some of the most basic consumer goods, they had full employment and were avid readers. One interviewee remembers such a girl at school, who lived with her grandmother and had only one dress for the whole year. No one looked down on her then, while now such poverty would be thought shameful. Another couple found that their 90 roubles a month had become inadequate and spoke bitterly of ‘all [those] young men with gold rings and magenta blazers’. Some of the stories are so poignant that they bring tears to the eyes. Svetlana Alexievich was awarded a Nobel Prize for her work in 2015. Secondhand Time is a masterpiece which could profitably be read in tandem with Simon Montefiore’s monumental work The Romanovs ($25, B format due April). Sonia
Woolloomooloo: A Biography by Louis Nowra
Louis Nowra writes Woolloomooloo’s biography, drink in hand, from the vantage point of the Old Fitzroy Hotel, the cosy, eccentric and wonderful pub on Dowling Street, Woolloomooloo. It’s a world of sex, sin, sly grog, sailors, razor gangs, larrikins, workers, artisans, murderers, fishermen, activists, drinkers, fashion designers, tradies, artists and the downright dangerous. It’s also a story of courage, resilience, tolerance, compassion. And though the pub has a real theatre, it’s the cast of real-life characters that are the stars of this show. Woolloomooloo’s past wraps around its present. Nowra—often accompanied by Coco the Chihuahua and other two-legged locals, often walks the streets, uncovering history— some official, some never revealed. He stumbles across pockets of beauty and charm, and the derelict and abandoned. ($35, PB)
They Cannot Take the Sky: Stories From Detention (eds) Michael Green etal ($30, PB)
For more than two decades, Australia has locked up people who arrive here fleeing persecution - sometimes briefly, sometimes for years. Speaking from inside immigration detention on Manus Island and Nauru, or from within the Australian community after their release, the narrators’ stories reveal not only their extraordinary journeys and their daily struggles but also their meditations on love, death, hope and injustice. Their candid testimonies are at times shocking and hilarious, surprising and devastating. They are witnesses from the edge of human experience.
QE 65: David Marr On Politics and Prejudice
Pauline Hanson is not alone out there. A million votes are in play. Strategists in both Labor and the Coalition are asking, what can we give them? At stake are the progressive hopes of most Australians, hopes held hostage more than ever to the fears – especially the race fears – of old Australia. This is a riveting essay examining the peculiar power of the fearful in this confident and prosperous nation. ($23, PB)
From the Paddock to the Agora: Fifty Years of LaTrobe University ($50, HB)
La Trobe is one of Australia’s leading universities. It plays an integral role in Australia’s public intellectual life and is recognised globally for its research excellence and commitment to ideas and debate. This book combines memorable photos and images with vivid essays by leading La Trobe scholars evoking the university’s past and present. Contributors include Don Watson, Dennis Altman, Clare Wright, Robert Manne, Marilyn Anderson, Penny Davies and John Dewar.
Losing Streak: How Tasmania Was Gamed By the Gambling Industry by James Boyce ($23, PB)
The story begins with the toppling of a premier, and ends with David Walsh, the man behind MONA, taking an eccentric stand against pokie machines and the political status quo. It is a story of broken politics and back-room deals. It shows how giving one company the licence to all the poker machines in Tasmania has led to several hundred million dollars of profits (mainly from problem gamblers) being diverted from public use, through a series of questionable and poorly understood deals. This is a meticulous, compelling case study in governance failure, which has implications for pokies reform throughout Australia..
Now in B Format Call of the Outback: The Remarkable Story of Ernestine Hill, Nomad, Adventurer and Trailblazer by Marianne van Velzen, $23 Reissued Quarterly Essays A Rightful Place: A Road Map to Recognition by Noel Pearson, $25 Balancing Act: Australia Between Recession and Renewal by George Megalogenis, $25 Like Nothing on this Earth: A Literary History of the Wheatbelt by Tony Hughes-d’Aeth ($50, PB)
During the 20th century, the southwestern corner of Australia was cleared for intensive agriculture. In the space of several decades, an arc from Esperance to Geraldton, an area of land larger than England, was cleared of native flora for the farming of grain & livestock. Today, satellite maps show a sharp line ringing Perth. Inside that line, tan-coloured land is the most visible sign from space of human impact on the planet. Where once there was a vast mosaic of scrub & forest, there is now the WA wheatbelt. Tony Hughes-d’Aeth examines the creation of the wheatbelt through its creative writing. Albert Facey, Peter Cowan, Dorothy Hewett, Jack Davis, Elizabeth Jolley & John Kinsella all wrote about their experience of the wheatbelt. Each gives insight into the human and environmental effects of this massive-scale agriculture.
History & Politics
Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein by John Nixon ($33, PB)
What Saddam told John Nixon during the conversations he had with him after his capture in late 2003 and early 2004 was to make Washington policymakers very unhappy. He convincingly rebutted the justifications used by the Bush administration for going to war. Were people ready to listen to this information? Even if they listened, did they hear? At the start of the debriefings, Nixon felt he knew Saddam. But in the ensuing weeks, he learned that the West had vastly misunderstood both him and his role as a determined foe of radical currents in the Islamic world, including Sunni extremism. And this was to prove a very expensive mistake indeed.
The Egyptians: A Radical Story by Jack Shenker
Egypt is a nation in turmoil, caught in a cycle of revolution &counterrevolution. Jack Shenker challenges conventional analyses that focus only on the battle between Islamists & secular forces as he travels the Arab World’s most populous country to explore other, far more important fault lines—the communities waging war against transnational corporations, the people subverting long-established gender norms, the workers seizing control of their factories, and the novelists, graffiti artists & back-alley DJs defying their repressive regime. While Egyptian rulers seek to eliminate dissent, seeded within the politics of the young generation are forms of democracy, social justice and resistance that could yet change the world. ($25, PB)
The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues & the Coming Dark Age by James Kirchick ($40, HB)
Europe is currently confronting demons it thought it had laid to rest— the old pathologies of anti-Semitism, populist nationalism, & territorial aggression are threatening to tear the European postwar consensus apart. James Kirchick shows the shallow disingenuousness of the leaders who pushed for ‘Brexit’; examines how a vast migrant wave is exacerbating tensions between Europeans & their Muslim minorities; explores the rising anti-Semitism that causes Jewish schools & synagogues in France& Germany to resemble armed bunkers; and describes how Russian imperial ambitions are destabilising nations from Estonia to Ukraine. With President Trump now threatening to abandon America’s traditional role as upholder of the liberal world order & guarantor of the continent’s security, Europe may be alone in dealing with these unprecedented challenges. Based on extensive firsthand reporting, this book is a provocative, disturbing look at a continent in unexpected crisis.
#Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media by Cass R. Sunstein ($60, HB)
Cass Sunstein rethinks the critical relationship between democracy and the Internet, describing how the online world creates ‘cybercascades’, exploits ‘confirmation bias’, and assists ‘polarization entrepreneurs’. He explains why online fragmentation endangers the shared conversations, experiences & understandings that are the lifeblood of democracy. In response, he proposes practical & legal changes to make the Internet friendlier to democratic deliberation. These changes would get us out of our information cocoons by increasing the frequency of unchosen, unplanned encounters & exposing us to people, places, things, and ideas that we would never have picked for our Twitter feed—it can be a rallying cry for the kind of democracy that citizens of diverse societies most need.
The Six Day War: The Breaking of the Middle East by Guy Laron ($44, HB)
One fateful week in June 1967 redrew the map of the Middle East. Guy Laron refutes the widely accepted belief that this ‘Six Day War’ was merely the result of regional friction, revealing the crucial roles played by American & Soviet policies in the face of an encroaching global economic crisis, and restoring Syria’s often overlooked centrality to events leading up to the hostilities. The war effectively sowed the seeds for the downfall of Arab nationalism, the growth of Islamic extremism, and the animosity between Jews & Palestinians. Laron’s fresh interdisciplinary perspective & extensive archival research offer a significant reassessment of a conflict—and the trigger-happy generals behind it—that continues to shape the modern world.
The Islamic Enlightenment: The Modern Struggle Between Faith and Reason by Christopher de Bellaigue ($35, PB)
The Muslim world has often been accused of a failure to modernise, reform and adapt. But, from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present day, Islamic society in its Middle Eastern heartlands has in fact been transformed by modern ideals and practices, including the adoption of modern medicine, the emergence of women from purdah and the development of democracy. Beginning with the dramatic collision of East and West following Napoleon’s arrival in Egypt, and taking us through 200 tumultuous years of Middle Eastern history, Christopher de Bellaigue, introduces us to key figures and reformers; from Egypt’s visionary ruler Muhammad Ali to brave radicals like Iran’s first feminist Qurrat al-Ayn and the writer Ibrahim Sinasi, who transformed Ottoman Turkey’s language and literature. De Ballaigue shows how to look beyond sensationalist headlines to foster a genuine understanding of modern Islam and Muslim culture.
Decolonization: A Short History by Jan C. Jansen & Jürgen Osterhammel
Jan Jansen and Jürgen Osterhammel trace the decline of European, American, and Japanese colonial supremacy from World War I to the 1990s. Providing a comparative perspective on the decolonization process, they shed light on its key aspects while taking into account the unique regional and imperial contexts in which it unfolded. They examine the economic repercussions of decolonization and its impact on international power structures, its consequences for envisioning world order, and the long shadow it continues to cast over new states and former colonial powers alike. ($54, HB)
Three Stones Make a Wall: The Story of Archaeology by Eric H. Cline ($72, HB)
In 1922, Howard Carter peered into Tutankhamun’s tomb for the first time, the only light coming from the candle in his outstretched hand. Urged to tell what he was seeing through the small opening he had cut in the door to the tomb, the Egyptologist famously replied, ‘I see wonderful things.’ Carter’s fabulous discovery is just one of the many spellbinding stories told in this volume. Eric Cline, an archaeologist with more than 30 seasons of excavation experience, traces the history of archaeology from an amateur pursuit to the cutting-edge science it is today by taking the reader on a tour of major archaeological sites and discoveries, from Pompeii to Petra, Troy to the Terracotta Warriors, and Mycenae to Megiddo and Masada.
Rocks, Ice and Dirty Stones: Diamond Histories Marcia Pointon ($60, HB)
‘A story of glitter and the dark side of history. Here are diamonds as objects of desire, but also as magnets for human cupidity: theft, fraud and murder. This is a rich and compelling cultural history; cool, precise and laser-sharp in its analysis’. Marcia Pointon examines the history of the diamond trade through the centuries from India & Brazil to South Africa & Europe, and investigates what happens to diamonds once they reach the cutters & polishers—taking a unique tour of the ways in which the quadrahedron diamond shape has inspired design, architecture & painting, from the symbolism of medieval manuscripts to modern-day graffiti. On the way questioning the etiquette 26 of engagement rings, and showing why & how lost, stolen or cursed diamonds create suspense in so much classic fiction and film.
Science & Nature
The Mesmerist by Wendy Moore ($33, PB)
At the beginning of the 1800s, surgery was a brutal affair. If you needed to have a tumour removed or a leg hacked off, the most surgeons could offer by way of relief was a large swig of brandy. The medical profession was also riddled with nepotism & corruption. Into this arena came Thomas Wakley, founder of the new Lancet magazine, which aimed to ‘lance the boil of corruption and malpractice that he had witnessed in the capital’s hospitals and medical schools...but also to shed light on the best medical advances and scientific practice’, and John Elliotson, the charismatic new hope of the medical world—a man determined to transform surgery from organised butchery into a practice backed by science. Avid consumers of the latest scientific views & findings, they promoted the idea of public hospitals that were more than slaughterhouses. But the arrival of Frenchman, the self-styled Baron Jules Denis Dupotet, promoting the practice of mesmerism split the medical world asunder, throwing into sharp focus questions about the fine dividing line between medicine & quackery, between science & superstition.
The Book of Shells: A life-size guide to identifying and classifying 600 shells by Harawewych & Moretzsohn
old in his vivid and entertaining style, Louis
Nowra writes Woolloomooloo’s biography, drink in hand, from the vantage point of the Old Fitzroy Hotel, the cosy, eccentric and wonderful pub on Dowling Street, Woolloomooloo. It’s a world of sex, sin, sly grog, sailors, razor gangs, larrikins, workers, artisans, murderers, fishermen, activists, drinkers, fashion designers,
tradies, artists and the downright dangerous. It’s also a story of courage, resilience, tolerance, compassion. And though the pub has a real theatre, it’s the cast of real-life characters that are the stars of this show.
illions of words have been spent in our quest
to explain men’s seemingly never-ending dominance in boardrooms, in parliaments, in the bureaucracy and in almost every workplace. So why is gender inequality still such a pressing issue? Catherine Fox does more than identify and analyse the nature of the problem. Her book is an important tool for male leaders who say they want to
make a difference. She throws down the gauntlet, showing how business, defence, public service and community leaders might do it, rather than just talk about it.
Over 100,000 kinds of mollusk have been recorded and some estimates of yet to be discovered species exceed a million. They have colonised nearly every habitat on the planet, ranging from high mountains to the depths of ocean trenches, and from the poles to the tropics. They range in size from that of a grain of sand to a meter in length and many hundreds of kilograms in weight. This book curates a lifesize collection of 600 of the most significant examples. Accompanying text for every example is divided into charted specifications, a general ‘biography,’ a summary of related species, and an extended caption that provides a detailed visual description. Magnified details reveal the diversity of pattern, while miniature line drawings reveal the variation in structure. ($60, HB)
The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why it Matters by Sean B. Carroll
How does life work? How does nature produce the right numbers of zebras and lions on the African savanna, or fish in the ocean? How do our bodies produce the right numbers of cells in our organs and bloodstream? Sean Carroll tells the stories of the pioneering scientists who sought the answers to such simple yet profoundly important questions, and shows how their discoveries matter for our health & the health of the planet. There are rules that regulate the amount of every molecule in our bodies & rules that govern the numbers of every animal & plant in the wild. These rules are remarkably similar—there is a common underlying logic of life. Carroll recounts how deep knowledge of the rules & logic of the human body has spurred the advent of revolutionary life-saving medicines, and makes the compelling case that it is now time to use the ‘Serengeti Rules’ to heal our ailing planet. ($38, PB)
Know This: Today’s Most Interesting and Important Scientific Ideas, Discoveries, and Developments by John Brockman ($28, PB)
Scientific developments radically change and enlighten our understanding of the world—whether it’s advances in technology & medical research or the latest revelations of neuroscience, psychology, physics, economics, anthropology, climatology, or genetics. And yet amid the flood of information today, it’s often difficult to recognize the truly revolutionary ideas that will have lasting impact. In the spirit of identifying the most significant new theories and discoveries, John Brockman has asked 198 of the finest minds ‘What do you consider the most interesting recent scientific news? What makes it important?’
Your Daily Maths: 366 Number Puzzles & Problems to Keep You Sharp by Laura Laing ($23, PB)
Everyone has heard students’ most common complaint in maths class: ‘Why do I need to learn this? I’ll never use it when I’m older!’ Some of us have even been that complainer. Many people’s difficulties with learning maths in school follow them into adulthood, by which time they often assume that it’s too late to do anything about it. But even though it’s true that the average person has no need in daily life to remember what the number for Pi is and what it represents, that doesn’t mean that maths serves no purpose for anybody with access to a calculator. In Your Daily Maths, veteran math educator Laura Laing lays out a year’s worth of exercises meant to get you thinking about maths in a different way. Laing’s approach breaks down her 366 exercises into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Number Sense, Algebra, Geometry, Application, Probability & Statistics, Logic & Grab Bag.
The Quantum World by New Scientist ($33, PB)
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Quantum theory is the very best description of the microscopic world of atoms and their constituents. It has given us lasers, computers and nuclear reactors, and even tells us how the sun shines and why the ground beneath our feet is solid. Yet the quantum world defies our sensibilities—it is a place where objects can be in two places at once, influence each other at opposite sides of the cosmos & nothing is as it seems until you measure it. Why is the quantum world so strange? Where does it begin & end? And what does this mean for the bedrock of reality? New Scientist take a journey through quantum theory, its mind-bending properties & the technologies transforming our world.
Philosophy & Religon From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds by Daniel C. Dennett ($55, PB)
What is human consciousness and how is it possible? These questions fascinate thinking people from poets & painters to physicists, psychologists & philosophers. Daniel C. Dennett extends perspectives from his earlier work in surprising directions, exploring the deep interactions of evolution, brains & human culture. Part philosophical whodunnit, part bold scientific conjecture, this landmark work enlarges themes that have sustained Dennett’s career at the forefront of philosophical thought. In his inimitable style, laced with wit and arresting thought experiments, Dennett shows how culture enables reflection by installing a profusion of thinking tools, or memes, in our brains. Language, itself composed of memes, turbocharged this interplay. The result, a mind that can comprehend the questions it poses, emerges from a process of cultural evolution. This will delight and entertain anyone who hopes to understand human creativity in all its wondrous applications.
Gleebooks’ special price $49.95
On Human Nature by Roger Scruton ($47, HB)
Confronting the views of evolutionary psychologists, utilitarian moralists, and philosophical materialists such as Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, Roger Scruton argues that human beings cannot be understood simply as biological objects. We are not only human animals; we are also persons, in essential relation with other persons, and bound to them by obligations and rights. Our world is a shared world, exhibiting freedom, value, and accountability, and to understand it we must address other people face to face and I to I. Scruton develops his account of human nature by ranging widely across intellectual history, beginning with Kant’s suggestion that we are distinguished by our ability to say ‘I’—by our sense of ourselves as the centres of self-conscious reflection. This fact is manifested in our emotions, interests & relations. It is the foundation of the moral sense, as well as of the aesthetic & religious conceptions through which we shape the human world & endow it with meaning. And it lies outside the scope of modern materialist philosophy, even though it is a natural & not a supernatural fact.
Aberrant Movements: The Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze by David Lapoujade ($44, PB)
There is always something schizophrenic about logic in Deleuze, which represents another distinctive characteristic: a deep perversion of the very heart of philosophy. Drawing on the entirety of Deleuze’s work as well as his collaborations with Felix Guattari, David Lapoujade explores the central problem underlying the delirious coherence of Deleuze’s philosophy: aberrant movements. These are the movements that Deleuze wrests from Kantian idealism, Nietzsche’s eternal return, and the nonsense of Lewis Carroll. Deleuze’s insights, theoretical confrontations, and perverse critiques have profoundly influenced philosophy, literature, film, and art over the last fifty years, and Lapoujade invites us to join in the discordant harmonies of Deleuze’s work—and in the battle that constitutes the thought of philosophy, politics & life.
The Terror of Evidence by Marcus Steinweg ($37, PB)
This is the first book by the prolific German philosopher Marcus Steinweg to be available in English translation. It offers meditations, maxims, aphorisms, notes & comments—191 texts ranging in length from three words to three pages—with varying subjects that include pathos, passivity, genius, resentment, love, horror, catastrophe & racism. And club sandwiches (specifically, Foucault’s love for this American speciality), blow jobs, and dance. Also: Two Kinds of Obscurantism, Putting Words in Spinoza’s Mouth, Note on Rorty, and Doubting Doubt. This volume can be considered a guidebook to thinking: the daily journey of exploration, the incessant questioning of reality that Steinweg sees as the task of philosophy.
An Atheist & a Christian Walk Into a Bar: Talking about God, the Universe, and Everything by Randal Rauser & Justin Schrieber ($35, PB)
The question of God is simply too interesting to leave to angry polemicists. In a friendly & rigorous dialogue Christian theologian Randal Rauser & atheist Justin Schieber begin with the question of why debates about God still matter. They then delve into the place of reason and faith, the radically different concepts of God in various cultures, morality & its traditional connection with religious beliefs, the problem of a universe that is overwhelmingly hostile to life as we know it, mathematical truths and what they may or may not say about the existence of God, the challenge of suffering & evil to belief in God, and more.
The Ultimate Game of Thrones and Philosophy: You Think or Die (eds) Silverman & Arp ($30, PB) Peanuts & Philosophy (eds) Richard Greene etal ($30, PB)
Psychology The Feeling Body: Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind by Giovanna Colombetti
Giovanna Colombetti takes ideas from the enactive approach developed over the last 20 years in cognitive science & philosophy of mind & applies them to affective science—the study of emotions, moods & feelings. She argues that enactivism entails a view of cognition as not just embodied but also intrinsically affective, and she elaborates on the implications of this claim for the study of emotion in psychology and neuroscience. Colombetti focuses on long-debated issues in affective science, including the notion of basic emotions, the nature of appraisal and its relationship to bodily arousal, the place of bodily feelings in emotion experience, the neurophysiological study of emotion experience, and the bodily nature of our encounters with others. ($57, PB)
Psychopath Factory by Tristam Vivian Adams
The conception of what defines a psychopath seems to be a morass of contradictions, the only consistency being the supposition of a lack of empathy. When workers are required to either ignore their empathy to do a job, or dial it up to increase productivity, they are entering a psychopathic modality. The affective blitz of work, flickering screens, emotive content, vibrating alerts & sounding alarms erode our sensitivities whilst we are modulated with attention stimulants, social lubricants & so called anti-anxiety drugs. This is amidst a virulent & exacerbating climate of competition & frenzied quantification. Capitalism pressures us to feign empathy & leverage social relationships on one hand, whilst being cold & pragmatic on the other. We are passionate & enthusiastic whilst keeping a professional distance. Sympathy, care, compassion and altruism are important; Tristam Adams argues that it is a mistake to presuppose that empathy can achieve these. Rather than being subject to the late capitalist organization of our empathy, psychopathy could be a means of escape. ($23, PB)
The Prodigy’s Cousin: The family link between Autism and extraordinary talent ($35, PB) by Joanne Ruthsatz, Kimberly Stephens
Psychologist Joanne Ruthsatz has assembled the largest-ever research sample of child prodigies. One could reproduce radio tunes by ear on a toy guitar at two years old. Another was a 13 year-old cooking sensation. Ruthsatz’s investigation has revealed the astonishing fact that though the prodigies aren’t autistic, many have autistic family members. Each prodigy has an extraordinary memory and a keen eye for detail—wellknown but often-overlooked strengths associated with autism. Ruthsatz proposes a startling possibility: might the abilities of child prodigies stem from a genetic link with autism? And could prodigies—children who have many of the strengths of autism but few of the challenges—be the key to a long-awaited autism breakthrough?
In Therapy: How conversations with psychotherapists really work by Susie Orbach ($20, PB)
In the UK alone, 1.5 million people are in therapy. They go to address past traumas, to break patterns of behaviour, to confront eating disorders or addiction, to talk about relationships, or simply because they need to find out more about what makes them tick. Susie Orbach has been a psychotherapist for over 40 years. Here, she explores what goes on in the process of therapy through 5 dramatised case studies. Replicating the improvised dialogue of the radio series as a playscript, Orbach offers the experience of reading along with a session, while revealing what is going on behind each exchange between analyst and client. Insightful and honest about a process often necessarily shrouded in secrecy, this is an essential read for those curious about, or considering entering, therapy.
Are Racists Crazy? How Prejudice, Racism, and Antisemitism Became Markers of Insanity by Sander L. Gilman & James M. Thomas
In 2012, an interdisciplinary team of scientists at the University of Oxford reported that, based on their clinical experiment, the beta-blocker drug, Propranolol, could reduce implicit racial bias among its users. Shortly after the experiment, an article in Time Magazine cited the study, posing the question: Is racism becoming a mental illness? Sander Gilman & James Thomas trace the idea of race & racism as psychopathological categories—from mid-19th century Europe, to contemporary America, up to the aforementioned clinical experiment, and ask a slightly different question than that posed by Time: How did racism become a mental illness? Using historical, archival & content analysis, they provide a rich account of how the 19th century ‘Sciences of Man’—including anthropology, medicine, and biology—used race as a means of defining psychopathology & how assertions about race& madness became embedded within disciplines that deal with mental health & illness. An illuminating history of the discourse on racism, antisemitism & psychopathology, this book connects past & present claims about race & racism, showing the dangerous implications of this specious line of thought for today. ($59.95, HB)
Cultural Studies & Criticism Lines in the Sand: Collected Journalism by A. A. Gill
Lucky me, I’ve been having a reading binge, and have read some really good books—here are just three of them. Magpie Murders ($33) is a clever, very entertaining book within a book. An editor is reading a manuscript by a famous, and recently murdered, author, but the last pages are missing. The book is full of allusions to the murder mystery genre, with lots of cryptic hints along the way, creating a puzzle within a puzzle. Anthony Horowitz is a hugely prolific writer of books and television, and in Magpie Murders he has written a very literary, filmic book that is extremely enjoyable. There are lots of references to real life writers, and the publishing industry (currently a popular and rich seam for novel writers), which keep the book from becoming like a plot of Midsomer Murders. Less satisfying in conclusion, but still a terrific book, is Idaho ($33) by Emily Ruskovich. This is an extraordinary first novel, beautifully written and at first deeply compelling. A small family are chopping wood in the forest near their Idaho cabin, when a horrific crime takes place —committed by one of the parents. The crime happens within the first few pages, and the rest of the novel goes back and forth in time, from the different perspectives of the characters. Idaho is a very dark, disturbing book, full of red herrings, and the reader really wants to know why the crime happened. What starts as a mystery turns into an elegy, and the reader won’t be satisfied by a tidy conclusion. Comparisons may not be helpful, but I was taken back to the early books of Barbara Kingsolver and Jane Smiley by Idaho, and I look forward to seeing what Emily Ruskovich writes next. Lastly, a book highly recommended by Andrew at Gleebooks, Lincoln in the Bardo ($30). Set in 1892, in a graveyard in Washington, during one night, this incredible book took me somewhere I’ve never been before. Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie has just died, and the grieving father goes back to a borrowed crypt to see his son once more. The text of the book is mainly quotes, from real and imagined people, and from many ghosts. Willie’s soul is in Bardo, a Tibetan term for limbo, and a terrific battle is taking place for it. Most of the ghosts are in denial about their own corporeal states, and all have opinions about Willie. It’s a long time that I’ve read such an astounding book—it’s tremendously sad, fairly horrifying, horribly funny and utterly bewitching. Unsurprising to hear that it took George Saunders five years to write. Louise
One Toss of the Dice: The Incredible Story of How a Poem Made Us Modern by R. Howard Bloch ($39.95, HB)
Stephane Mallarmé’s One Toss of the Dice, a poem about a shipwreck published in 1897, with its mind-bending possibilities of being read up & down, backwards & forwards, even sideways, launched modernism. It has for over a century tantalised everyone from physicists to composers to graphic artists. R. Howard Bloch decodes the poem, and creates a shimmering portrait of Belle-époque Paris with a cast of exotic characters— Napoleon III, the Lumière brothers, Auguste Rodin, Berthe Morisot, even an expatriate American dentist—positioning Mallarmé as the spiritual giant of late 19th century France. Featuring a new translation of the poem by J.D. McClatchy, Bloch reveals how a masterpiece shaped our perceptual world.
The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America, 1933–1973 by Mark Greif
In a mid 20th century American cultural episode forgotten today, intellectuals of all schools shared a belief that human nature was under threat. The immediate result was a glut of dense, abstract books on the ‘nature of man’. But the dawning ‘age of the crisis of man’, as Mark Greif calls it, was far more than a historical curiosity. Hemingway, Faulkner & Richard Wright wrote flawed novels of abstract man. Succeeding them, Ralph Ellison, Saul Bellow, Flannery O’Connor & Thomas Pynchon constituted a new guard who tested philosophical questions against social realities—race, religious faith & the rise of technology—that kept difference & diversity alive. Greif’s reframing of a foundational debate takes us beyond old antagonisms into a new future, and gives a prehistory to the fractures of our own era. ($41, HB)
His subjects range from the controversial—fur, to the heartfelt—a fantastic crystallisation of what it means to be European. He tackles life drawing, designs his own tweed, considers boyhood through the prism of the Museum of Childhood and spends a day at Donald Trump’s university. His award-winningly acerbic review of Morrissey’s autobiography sits alongside the insight he brings to the work of Rudyard Kipling, Don McCullin and Lord Snowdon. There are pieces from all corners of the world: from the tragic and terrifying Triangle of Death in the Congo to the dangers of the Mexican migrant journey. He reports from the roof of the world in Bhutan, and the rather more earthbound drunk tanks of Humberside. But more than any other subject, a recurring theme emerges in the overwhelming story of our times: the refugee crisis. He has travelled to Lampedusa to meet the Africans desperately trying to reach Europe, visited Syrian refugees in the Lebanon, met the migrants on the vast and dangerous journey from Kos through the Balkans, and witnessed the Jungle refugee camp in Calais. The resulting articles are journalism at its finest and fiercest. ($30, PB)
The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables by David Bellos ($40, HB)
David Bellos brings to life the extraordinary story of how Victor Hugo managed to write his novel of the downtrodden despite a revolution, a coup d’état and political exile; how he pulled off the deal of the century to get it published, and set it on course to become the novel that epitomizes the grand sweep of history in the 19th century. Placing a century of scholarship into narrative form and packed full of information about the background and design of Les Misérables, this biography of a masterpiece nonetheless insists that the moral and social message of Hugo’s ever-popular novel is just as important for our century as it was for its own.
At Home in the World: Women Writers and Public Life, from Austen to the Present by Maria DiBattista & Deborah Epstein Nord ($61, HB)
In a bold and sweeping reevaluation of the past two centuries of women’s writing, At Home in the World argues that this body of work has been defined less by domestic concerns than by an active engagement with the most pressing issues of public life: from class and religious divisions, slavery, warfare, and labor unrest to democracy, tyranny, globalism, and the clash of cultures. The book explores works by a wide range of writers, including canonical figures such as Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, Harriet Jacobs, Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, Willa Cather, Gertrude Stein, and Toni Morrison; neglected or marginalized writers like Mary Antin, Tess Slesinger, and Martha Gellhorn; and recent and contemporary figures, including Nadine Gordimer, Anita Desai, Edwidge Danticat, and Jhumpa Lahiri. DiBattista and Nord show how these writers dramatize tensions between home and the wider world through recurrent themes of sailing forth, escape, exploration, dissent, and emigration.
Attack of the Fifty Foot Women by Catherine Mayer
In more than a few countries, progress for women has stalled or is reversing. Voters in the US chose a misogynist over a female candidate for President, fewer than 9% of world leaders are female, and yet in many countries, the majority of politicians and business leaders profess to believe in gender equality—as well they might. One report predicts a boost to global GDP of £8.3 trillion by 2025 simply by making faster progress towards narrowing the gender gap. So, if gender equality promises benefits not just to women, but to everyone, why aren’t we embracing it? And how can we speed the pace of change? Campaigning for the Women’s Equality Party ahead of elections in May 2016, Catherine Mayer noticed that many people found it hard to envisage a gender-equal world: What is it like? Does gender equality make for a society that is more equal in other ways too? Who does the low-paid jobs? How does gender express itself in a place freed from gender programming? What’s the sex like? What’s on the telly? Look out for some fascinating answers and brilliant thought experiments. ($33, PB)
Words are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000–2016, with a Journal of a Writer’s Week by Ursula K. Le Guin ($43, HB)
‘Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society & its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom— poets, visionaries—realists of a larger reality...” This book collects talks, essays, introductions to beloved books, and book reviews by Ursula K. Le Guin. It is a manual for investigating the depth and breadth of contemporary fiction—and, through the lens of deep considerations of contemporary writing, a way of exploring the world we are all living in.
Naming Thy Name: Cross Talk in Shakespeare’s Sonnets by Elaine Scarry ($49, HB)
In a fascinating case for the identity of Shakespeare’s beautiful young man, Elaine Scarry lays bare William Shakespeare’s devotion to a beloved whom he not only names but names repeatedly in the microtexture of the sonnets, in their architecture, and in their deep fabric, immortalizing a love affair. By naming his name, Scarry enables us to hear clearly, for the very first time, a lover’s call & the beloved’s response. Scarry synthesizes textual analysis, literary criticism & historiography in pursuit of the haunting call & recall of Shakespeare’s verse and that of his (now at last named) beloved friend.
The Mother’s Promise Sally Hepworth
The bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives delivers her most powerful novel yet. Alice and her daughter Zoe have been a team of two all their lives. With no family, and the identity of Zoe’s father shrouded in mystery, they’ve never needed anyone else - until Alice gets sick. Imbued with heart and humour in even the darkest moments, The Mother’s Promise is an unforgettable novel about the strength of a mother’s love.
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ‘Every now and then an Australian crime novel comes along to stop your breath and haunt your dreams.’—Sydney Morning Herald ‘A breathless pageturner...A secret on every page.’—New York Times In the midst of the worst drought in a century, farmer Luke Hadler commits a terrible crime. When specialist investigator Aaron Falk returns to the town that rejected him twenty years earlier, suspicions and doubts swirl, leading to a breathtaking finale.
First, We Make the Beast Beautiful Sarah Wilson
‘Quirky, edgy and brutally frank. First, We Make the Beast Beautiful is an exploration of the chasm between the public persona of a high-functioning media personality and her private struggle with ever lurking crippling anxiety. You’ll never read a more searingly honest account of mental illness than this.’—Hugh Mackay Practical and poetic, wise and funny, this is a small book with a big heart.
Salt Creek Lucy Treloar
SHORTLISTED FOR THE MILES FRANKLIN AWARD 2016 ’...written with a profound respect for history: with an understanding that beyond a certain point, the past and its people are unknowable.’ —Sydney Morning Herald In 1855, Salt Creek becomes home to Stanton Finch and his large family. Stanton’s attempts to tame the harsh landscape unleash a devastating chain of events and bring ruin to the native Ngarrindjeri people. www.panmacmillan.com.au
Power Polemics is a flagship series of books and public lectures that puts art hard up against political and personal viewpoints from the field’s leading writers. Mark Ledbury, Director of the Power Institute, explains: ‘Power Polemics are big ideas that fit in your pocket. They present sharp, accessible, engaging essays on art and culture by renowned international thinkers who share our commitment to the vital and continuing relevance of art in the world.’ In polemical times, they sound like just the kind of polemics we need.
Stray: Human / Animal Ethics in the Anthropocene by Barbara Creed ($30, PB)
Barbara Creed explores the relationship between human and animal in the context of the stray. Working through examples from both art and literature, with reference to the work of prominent philosophers, the book examines the different ways in which human discourse has labelled animals and people as strays, as well as what human and animal strays have in common. Collectively, it argues for the concept of an anthropogenic stray – a new form of stray produced in and by the Anthropocene, that is, as a result of the effects of human actions on nature. In doing so, the author profoundly lays bare the astonishing contradictions at the heart of the Anthropocene condition, relating to our treatment of non-human animals, and the way dominant nations and groups treat other human beings, such as religious minorities, refugees and the homeless.
No Idols: The Missing Theology of Art by Thomas Crow ($30, PB)
Thomas Crow pursues a perhaps unpopular notion of Christianity’s continued presence in modern abstract art & in the process makes a case for art’s own terrain of theology: one that eschews idolatry by means of abstraction. Tracking from anti-idolatry controversies that stirred the Jansenists, through exploration of a humble still life by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Crow sets the scene for the development of an art of reflection rather than representation, and divinity without doctrine. His plea for a reconsideration of the metaphysical in art is made through analysis of the work of New Zealand artist Colin McCahon & American artists Mark Rothko, Robert Smithson, James Turrell & Sister Mary Corita Kent. While a tightly selected group of artists, in their collective statute the author explores the proposal that a spiritual art, as opposed to ‘a simulacrum of one’, is conceivable for our own time.
s d d w n n a o 2 H R
Our Second-hand Book collection is nothing if not extremely eclectic. Proven in this month’s selection from our shelves: Ants: Their Structure, Development and Behavior by William Morton Wheeler Columbia University Press, New York. Hardcover. 1926 Reprint of the original 1910 Edition. No Dust jacket. Blue cloth boards with title/author gold embossed on the spine. Xxv,663pp., 281 diagrams, illustrations and photographs, appendices, bibliography, index. Some light spotting and age browning on the top edge otherwise Very Good condition. $50.00. Ants are as old as the dinosaurs. They arose in the mid-Cretaceous Period—120 million years ago. The dinosaurs perished in the mass extinction event of 66 million years ago, when a 10–15 km wide (6–9 mile) asteroid slammed into the Earth at the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. The impact—the crater was 180kms (110 miles) wide—caused such climate disruption it wiped out 75% of the Earth’s species. The ants survived. They not only survived, they thrived. Today there are an estimated 22,000 species of ants. Some 12,700 have been classified. Ants comprise up to 25% of the Earth’s animal biomass. A recent BBC nature documentary claimed that there were an estimated 100 trillion ants on the planet. That’s 100,000,000,000,000! A large proportion of that number have paid a visit to our house this last Summer, driving us to distraction. So, when this volume arrived in a collection late last year I claimed it from the shelves and dipped into it with the adage of ‘know thy enemy’ in mind. My opinion of ants—when I thought of them at all—may have been moulded at an impressionable age by my first viewing, and several subsequent viewings through the decades, of the classic Creature Feature thriller THEM. Made in 1954, it featured giant, radiation-mutated ants running amok in the New Mexico Desert. One of their human victims is found a battered, lifeless husk ‘with enough formic acid in him to kill twenty men!’ New-born Queen ants take flight and establish a nest within the maze of storm drains under Los Angeles, where the insect hordes are finally beaten after an epic struggle. I was bought to ponder otherwise though, on the usefulness of ants, from the dedication page of this volume which selects a reflection by 18th Century English cleric and naturalist William Gould (1715–1799), taken from his An Account of English Ants (1747): The Subject indeed is small, but not inglorious. The Ant, as the Prince of Wisdom is pleased to inform us, is exceeding wise. In this Light, it may, without Vanity, boast of its being related to you, and therefore by right of Kindred merits your Protection. William Morton Wheeler (1865–1937) was a Harvard professor and the foremost Myrmecologist of his day. Morton in fact coined the word—from the Greek myrmex, ‘ant’ and logos, ‘study’—to describe a specialised a branch of Entomology focused on the scientific investigation of ants. This book is the fruit of a lifetime’s study. Wheeler examined ants in terms of social organization, and in 1910 he delivered a now famous lecture on the The Ant-Colony as an Organism, which later pioneered the idea of super-organisms. This is a very handsome volume indeed. The beautifully detailed, hand drawn illustrations throughout—for example in Chapter III: The Internal Structure of Ants—are worth the price of the volume alone. Wheeler’s book remained the standard work on the subject until the appearance of E. O Wilson and Bert Hölldobler’s encyclopaedic volume The Ants (1990). Edward O. Wilson (1929-) is the current world authority on ants and followed Wheeler into Harvard. He was heavily influenced as a teenager by Wheeler’s work: ‘When I was 16 and decided I wanted to become a myrmecologist, I memorized his book’. I conclude by noting that the remarkable industriousness of ants has been recognised by humans since Biblical times. In the Book of Proverbs, King Solomon advises his lazy son to look to the ants: Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. Proverbs 6: 6-8. Fortunately for us, two distinguished lifetimes have been spent in industrious investigation of the fascinating—and formidable—Formicidae. Stephen Reid
1917 Stalemate & Revolution Part 1 Recommended reading: The Russian Revolution by Sheila Fitzpatrick ($29.95, PB) Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence ($20, PB) Lenin on the Train by Catherine Merridale ($55, HB) Wilfred Owen: A Biography by Jon Stallworthy ($38, PB) The Zimmermann Telegram by Barbara W. Tuchman ($32, PB) Ring of Steel: Germany & Austria-Hungary at War 1914–1918 by Alexander Watson, ($30, PB)
French President Raymond Poincaré called 1917, l’annné trouble—the year of confusion. After thirty months of colossal effort, both war weariness and exhaustion will take a serious toll of the belligerents. Twelve European nations are now at war. The most recent entry is Portugal on the side of the Allies on 3 January. They line up with the French, British, Italians, Russians, Japanese, Serbs, Belgians and Roumanians. The British forces include troops from Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Canada and the West Indies. The Central Powers comprise Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria. Despite the vast carnage of Verdun and the Somme the previous year, the trench lines of the Western Front are virtually unchanged. Tentative peace notes are exchanged by the combatants throughout December 1916–January 1917. These are brokered in vain by Woodrow Wilson, President of the (still neutral) United States. Peace may be wished for but the armies on all sides are still burgeoning. As 1917 opens, Russia has nine million men at arms. Germany has seven million. Austria five million. In the trenches the struggle against sniping, shelling and mud continues.
On 12 January, the poet, Second-Lieutenant Wilfred Owen, is sent forward to man an advanced dugout near Beaumont Hamel. He later writes to his mother of his ordeal: I can see no excuse for deceiving you. I have suffered seventh hell. The dugout held twenty-five men packed tight … Water filled it to a depth of 2 feet, leaving say 4 feet of air… For over fifty hours Owen’s dugout is under enemy shellfire. On the Sunday, I nearly broke down and let myself drown in the water that was now rising over my knees. Towards 6 o’clock, when, I suppose you would be going to church, the shelling grew less intense … so I was mercifully helped to do my duty and wade, crawl and flounder over No-Man’s Land to visit my other post. The sentries over the dugout were blown to nothing. Mud is the curse of the trench system. In March 1917, a French front line newspaper describes the danger: At night, the mud watches, like an enormous octopus. The victim arrives, it blinds him, closes around him, one more man gone … Men die of mud as they die from bullets, but more horribly. Mud is where men sink and where their souls sink also. Mud hides the stripes of rank, there are only poor suffering beasts. Faced with continued encirclement and an Allied naval blockade and struggling allies, German war-leaders need to knock at least one of the Allied Powers out of the war as quickly as possible to stand any chance of even a conditional victory. They decide upon a defensive strategy on the Western Front and one to eliminate Russia in the East. Between 9 February and 20 March 1917, the German High Command withdraws troops on the Western Front to a recently fortified ‘Siegfried Line’—known to the Allies as ‘The Hindenburg Line’. This reduces the front line by 25 miles (40 km) and frees up 13 divisions (150,000–200,00 men) for reserve service. In their wake, the Germans leave scorched earth devastation. Roads, railways, villages, farms are destroyed. Wells are poisoned. Large numbers of mines and booby traps are laid.
On the German home front, the ‘Turnip Winter’ of 1916–1917 is a consequence of the ever-tightening Allied blockade. Starvation is rife. In January, a Berlin observer notes: We are all gaunt and bony now … one sees faces like masks, blue with cold and drawn with hunger, with the harassed expression common to all wondering where our next meal is coming from. Famished Berliners storm the city food markets. Nebelkrähe (Hooded Crow) is now sold as meat in butcher shops. A rampant black market defies official price controls. The countryside fares little better. In Krieblowitz, near Breslau, a farmer reports: Our bread is being ‘stretched’ in every way possible, now mixed with numerous subterranean vegetables, coming under the rubric of ‘turnip’, of whose existence we never dreamed before. On 19 January 1917, as Germany moves to intensify the war at sea, Alfred von Zimmermann, the new German Foreign Minister, sends a secret coded telegram to the German Ambassador to Mexico, Heinrich von Eckardt. In it is outlined a plan whereby, following the outbreak of war between the United States and Germany— provoked by Germany’s declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare—Mexico should be offered a military alliance with Germany. Supported with financial aid. Mexico would then ‘reconquer’ territories lost seventy years earlier: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas. The Kaiser orders unrestricted submarine warfare commence on 1 February 1917. Any foreign ship is to be sunk on sight. Two days later, the United States severs diplomatic relations with Germany—but President Wilson does not declare war.
The sensationally reckless ‘Zimmermann Telegram’ is intercepted and decoded by British intelligence and published in the United States on 1 March 1917. In the Middle East, the Turkish Empire is defending itself from an Arab nationalist revolt—and T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) who in January–February 1917 leads a series of successful raids capturing Turkish-held towns on the Red Sea coast.
In March 1917, Tsarist Russia descends into the turmoil of revolution. Food riots and strikes break out in the capital, Petrograd. Army mutinies begin. Tsar Nicholas II leaves Petrograd for his Military Headquarters at Mogilev in Belarus to quell them. Worker, Soldier and Peasant ‘Soviets’ are established in Petrograd and seize control of the Winter Palace. On 11 March, Mikhail Rodzianko, President of the Russian Duma (Parliament) telegraphs the Tsar: Position serious. Anarchy in capital. Government paralysed. Transport, supply and fuel in complete disorder. Troops firing on each other. Essential formation of new government. There must be no delay. On 15 March 1917, Tsar Nicholas II, Ruler of Russia since 1894 abdicates. A Provisional Government is established, led by Prince Georgy Lvov. Eight days later, desperate to sow further confusion in Russia, a German intrigue commences, with the Imperial Minister in Bern, Switzerland, dispatching a telegram notifying the Foreign Ministry that certain ‘Russian revolutionaries’—chief among them Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the notorious Bolshevik extremist—at present safely in exile in Switzerland: wish to return to Russia via Germany... Since it is in our interests to allow the radical wing of the revolutionaries to prevail, it would seem to me advisable to allow transit. The Foreign Ministry replies on 25 March 1917: No objection to transit of Russian revolutionaries if effected on special train with reliable escort.’ To be continued next month. Stephen Reid
Float by Anne Carson ($40, BX) In this beautifully designed box, there are 12 individual booklets that can be read in any order—you can begin with Carson puzzling through Proust on a frozen Icelandic plain, in the art-saturated enclaves of downtown NYC, or atop Mount Olympus as Zeus ponders his afterlife. There is a three-woman chorus of Gertrude Steins embodying an essay about ‘falling’, and an investigation of monogamy & marriage as she anticipates the perfect egg her husband is cooking for breakfast. Falling Ill: Last Poems by C K Williams ($41, HB) Over the past half century, the great shape-shifting poet C. K. Williams took upon himself the poet’s task: to record with candour & ardour the burden of being alive. In this, his final volume of poems, he brings this task to its conclusion, bearing witness to a restless mind’s encounter with the brute fact of the body’s decay, the spirit’s erasure—these brave poems face unflinchingly the dreadful edge of a precipice where a futureless future stares back.
In Praise of Defeat by Abdellatif Laabi
Banned by the Moroccan government, Abdellatif Laabi’s poetry is increasingly influential on the international scene and spans six decades of political & literary change, innovation & struggle. Including a wide range of work, from piercing domestic love poetry to a fierce lyricism of social resistance informed by nearly a decade spent in prison for ‘crimes of opinion’, all of Laabi’s poetry is situated firmly against tyranny & for life—an almost mythic sense of spiritual & earthly joy emanates from this resistance through the darkness of political oppression. ($33, PB)
House of Lords & Commons by Ishion Hutchinson ($33, HB)
Jamaican poet holds his world in full focus but at an astonishing angle: from the violence of the 17th century English Civil War as refracted through a mythic sea wanderer, right down to the dark interior of love. With ears tuned to the vernacular, the collection vividly binds us to what is terrifying about happiness, loss, and the lure of the sea.
Believing the Lie Elizabeth George, HB
Now $16.95 A Great and Glorious Adventure: A History of the 100 War & the Birth of Renaissance England Gordon Corrigan, HB
Churchill & the King Kenneth Weisbrode, HB
Miles: The Autobiography Miles Davis, PB
Dancing Fish & Amonites: A Memoir Penelope Lively, HB
Now $17.95 The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic John Shelby Spong, HB
Is God Happy? Selected Essays Leszek Kolakowski, HB
Shackleton’s Whisky Neville Peat, HB
Leaving Berlin Joseph Kanon, HB
A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures with Bumblebees Dave Goulson, HB
The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince Jane Ridley, HB
Prelude to Everest: Alexander Kellas, Himalayan Mountaineer Mitchell & Rodway, HB
Shakespeare’s Tremor & Orwell’s Cough: Diagnosing the Medical Groans & Last Gasps of 10 Great Writers John J. Ross, PB
They All Love Jack: Busting the Ripper Bruce Robinson, HB
Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal Tom Shroder, HB
Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure Artemis Cooper, HB
The Discreet Hero Mario Vargas Llosa, HB
Let Me Be Frank With You Richard Ford, HB
A Higher World: Scotland 1707–1815 Michael Fry, HB
The Trauma of Everyday Life Dr Mark Epstein, HB
Aleksandr Zhitomirsky: Photomontage as a Weapon of World War II and the Cold War by Erika Wolf ($89, HB)
Russian propaganda artist Aleksandr Zhitomirsky (1907– 1993) made photomontages that were airdropped on German troops during WWII. He later worked for Pravda & other leading publications, satirizing American politics & finance from the Truman through the Reagan eras. His villainous menagerie included Reichsminister Joseph Goebbels as a distorted simian & an airborne scorpion outfitted with an Uncle Sam hat. In this image-driven account of Zhitomirsky’s long career, Erika Wolf explores his connections to & long friendship with the German artist John Heartfield, whose work inspired his own, examines more than 100 of Zhitomirsky’s photomontages & translates excerpts from his one published book, The Art of Political Photomontage: Advice for the Artist (1983).
Berenice Abbott: Paris Portraits 1925–1930
Berenice Abbott was born in Springfield, Ohio, in 1898. She left Ohio State University early for New York’s Greenwich Village in 1918, where she spent several years before studying in Europe. She was first introduced to photography while studying sculpture in Paris; she became Man Ray’s darkroom assistant & soon began her own studio taking portraits of some the most celebrated artists & writers of the day, including Marie Laurencin, Jean Cocteau, Peggy Guggenheim, Coco Chanel, Max Ernst, André Gide & James Joyce. For this book, 115 portraits of 83 subjects have been scanned from the original glass negatives, which have been printed in full. ($160, HB)
The Short Story of Art: A Pocket Guide to Key Movements, Works, Themes and Techniques by Susie Hodge ($28, PB)
This book explores 50 key works, from the wall paintings of Lascaux to contemporary installations, and then links these to sections on art movements, themes & techniques—simplifying and explaining the most important and influential concepts in art, and showing how they are linked. The book explains how, why and when art changed, who introduced certain things, what they were, where they were produced, and whether they matter. It demystifies artistic jargon, to give readers a thorough understanding and broad enjoyment of art.
Rayner Hoff: The Life of a Sculptor Deborah Beck ($50, PB)
In the 1920s and 1930s, Rayner Hoff was the most gifted— and controversial—public sculptor in Australia, best known for the sculptures & friezes that adorn Sydney’s Anzac Memorial, including Sacrifice at its centre. After moving from London in the early 1920s, Hoff taught at and eventually ran the National Art School. As well as completing the Anzac Memorial sculptures—which generated uproar when the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney opposed two further works planned for the Memorial—he also designed the original Holden lion badge, won the Wynne Prize in 1927, and made firm friends with luminaries like Norman Lindsay, Hugh McCrae and Mary Gilmore.
DVDs With Scott Donovan Hunt for the Wilderpeople ($29.95)
Ricky (Julian Dennison) is a defiant young city kid who finds himself on the run with his cantankerous foster uncle (Sam Neill) in the wild New Zealand bush. A national manhunt ensues, and the two are forced to put aside their differences and work together to survive in this hilarious and heartfelt adventure.
Girls: Season 5 ($29.95)
As Season 5 begins, Hannah’s put her writing ambitions aside and is teaching alongside Fran, her new boyfriend. Marnie realises that she needs more space after her honeymoon with Desi. While working towards becoming a therapist, Jessa also manages a budding relationship. And Shoshanna is thriving at her new job in Japan, flirting with her boss despite her long-distance relationship with Scott.
Hell or High Water $32.95, Region 2
Texas brothers—Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster), come together after years divided to rob branches of the bank threatening to foreclose on their family land. Vengeance seems to be theirs, until they find themselves on the radar of Texas Ranger, Marcus (Jeff Bridges) looking for one last grand pursuit on the eve of his retirement. As the brothers plot a final bank heist to complete their scheme and with the Rangers on their heels, a showdown looms at the crossroads where the values of the old and new west murderously collide.
Drawings for Paintings in the Age of Rembrandt
17th century Dutch artists made many types of preliminary drawings, including broad compositional sketches, drawings of the landscape in their sketchbooks, counterproofs, construction drawings, and individual figural studies. Artists also indicated compositional ideas on their canvases and panels using underdrawings that are revealed through infrared reflectography. This volume features a wide variety of subject types and artists, among others Hendrick Avercamp, Gerrit Berckheyde, Aelbert Cuyp, Jan van Goyen, Adriaen van Ostade, Jacob van Ruisdael, Pieter Saenredam, and Rembrandt van Rijn. ($90, HB)
Painting the Stage: Opera and Art by Denise Wendel-Poray ($80, HB)
The term Gesamtkunstwerk indicates the ideal theatre where music, drama, dancing, poetry & figurative arts coexist so as to create the perfect synthesis of these different art forms throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, offering a selection of performances of fundamental importance: from avant-garde experimentation, with collaborations of artists such as Matisse, Kazimir Malevich, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, to post-war events staged by Oskar Kokoschka, Balthus, Salvador Dali, and André Derain, up to experimentation in America by Willem de Kooning, Marc Chagall, Louise Nevelson, David Hockney & the grand protagonists of 1990s performances like George Tsypin, Robert Wilson & Achim Freyer. The book ends with interviews by some of today’s key experimental artists: from Jan Fabre to Rebecca Horn, from William Kentridge to Anselm Kiefer, from Robert Longo to Daniel Richter.
Seurat’s Circus Sideshow (ed) Richard Thomson
The mystery, colour, and magic of the circus was a subject of fascination for European artists in the late 19th & early 20th centuries. The French Post-Impressionist painter Georges-Pierre Seurat (1859–1891) explored this theme in a number of drawings and sketches, as well as in his 1888 Pointillist masterwork, Circus Sideshow. Drawing connections to Parisian street life, to the works of other artists, and to the broader complexities of modern life, this lively book establishes Circus Sideshow as a pioneering work in the genre of circus-themed art. Lush reproductions of the work are buttressed by images of Seurat’s preparatory drawings and ephemera from circuses and street performances of the time to offer a full understanding of the historical context. ($48, PB)
Genesis Dada: 100 Years of Dada Zurich ($82, HB) On 5 February 1916, Hugo Ball and Emmy Hennings, together with Marcel Janco, Tristan Tzara, and Jean Arp, inaugurated the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich. The evening marked the birth of Dada as an artistic movement, and Cabaret Voltaire with its legendary performances became a place of historic significance. It was soon to be followed by the short-lived, while no less significant, Gallery Dada in Zurich, where the Dadaists staged four exhibitions over the course of half a year. Dada’s further evolution was significantly shaped by these two spaces, each with its own particular atmosphere, constituting the differing poles of the Dada movement. This book sheds light on the early years of 1916-17 in Zurich in historical context and, from today’s point of view, and also explores the intellectual and social background that informed Dada, considering aspects such as the Great War, psychoanalysis, or the art scene of the time. Nan Goldin: Diving for Pearls ($102, HB)
Nan Goldin merges her deep admiration for the artworks of the past with a lifelong dedication to her most immediate circle of friends. Invited by the Louvre, she photographed artworks of her choice at the museum and connected them to earlier photographs of her friends and lovers. In this way she not only draws inspiration from the rich sources of art history but revisits her own oeuvre of the last 40 years. Diving for Pearls was conceived as an independent artist book which, alongside Goldin’s newest work Saints, contains a selection of photographs that have never been published before.
To Walk Invisible: The Lives of the Brontë Sisters
Written & directed by Sally Wainwright this TV drama follows the lives of the Brontë sisters. Set in 1840s Yorkshire, sisters Anne (Charlie Murphy), Charlotte (Finn Atkins) and Emily (Chloe Pirrie) must come together after their troubled brother Branwell (Adam Nagaitis) struggles to come to terms with a failed love affair and is consumed by alcohol & drug addictions. With their family situation worsening by the day, the sisters turn to writing as a way to escape the hardships of their family life. The cast also includes Jonathan Pryce and Rebecca Callard. ($32.95, Region 2)
The Bureau: Season 1 ($42.95, Region 2)
After returning to Paris following an extended undercover mission in Syria, French intelligence officer Guillaume Debailly (Kassovitz) must face up to the challenge of reconnecting with his estranged daughter and ex-wife as he attempts to adjust to life back at home. Now tasked with training new recruit Marina Loiseau (Giraudeau), Guillaume’s situation is further complicated by the arrival in Paris of Nadia (Zineb Triki), his love interest from his time in Syria, and the case of a fellow agent who mysteriously goes missing while undercover in Algeria.
Winton's Paw Prints
It’s a funny thing working in a bookshop—you can read and read, but there’s always something new, or ancient, you haven’t got to yet. Like when you run your eyes along some other reader’s bookshelves (as readers always do) and, despite the fact that you rarely have your head out of a book, you haven’t read an eighth of what’s thereon. The list just grows and grows, the pile beside the bed gets ever bigger—and nine lives is not enough! Even eternity, with its forever growing front list, wouldn’t be. Not that I’m complaining—although I do occasionally hope some benign vampire from an Anne Rice novel will bestow the dark gift upon me so I can attempt to keep up. Anyway, I can’t remember what sent me in my current direction—perhaps a reference to Joseph Kanon in a Saturday paper’s review, but, like Sonia Lee, the Gleaner’s resident reading Granny who is on a Tana French bender this month, I am now on a Joseph Kanon binge—starting with his award winning debut novel, Los Alamos. To quote his current editor, Peter Borland: Here’s the thing about Joe’s books. They are all set in roughly the same time period—the years just after the end of World War II—but in different parts of the world: Los Alamos; Washington, DC; Hollywood; Venice; Istanbul; Berlin. Kanon’s novels provide a kaleidoscopic portrait of the West at a precarious historical moment when old alliances are coming apart, the Cold War is getting downright frosty, and moral compromise is the rule of the day. Each of Joe’s books is unique and stands on its own, but when you step back and take them all in together, the enormity of what he has accomplished is revealed: here is the story of the birth of the post-war world happening. As the Trumpster returns to a protectionist posture and reneges on all the promises made in the American ‘we’re the only ones you can trust with the atom’ ascendancy, what better time to look back on the moral questions posed on ‘The Hill’—would the world be different if the US had openly shared the bomb technology with its so-called ally the USSR? Like all good books, Los Alamos just makes ya wonder. I can’t wait to get to The Prodigal Spy, The Good German, Alibi, Stardust, Istanbul Passage and Leaving Berlin. And for those whose shelves already have Kanon in pride of place, the good news is there’s a new one due in June 2017—Defectors—this time it’s Moscow, 1961, a notorious US defector to the USSR is about to publish his memoirs... Winton John: I have just read an intriguing first novel set in Tasmania and Ireland, To the Sea by Christine Dibley. Like Elliot Perlman’s wonderful Seven Types of Ambiguity, Dibley weaves her tale from a number of points of view while exploring the disappearance of 17 year old Zoe from her family’s coastal retreat. Blending police procedural, a family history rich with mythology, a love story, and a family strangely accepting of Zoe’s presumed fate. I picked To the Sea off the shelves and read a few pages expecting something along the lines of Jane Harper’s The Dry, but was surprised by quite a different story, one that kept me interested to the end.
what we're reading
Lynndy: The Birdman’s Wife by Melissa Ashley—Amongst my mementoes from primary school I still have a Gould League of Bird Lovers badge; had I known exactly what gaining his prodigious knowledge entailed, my pride in membership of the organisation might have been shattered. Focussing on Eliza Gould, The Birdman’s Wife describes in intricate detail the entire process of John Gould’s obtaining and studying birds and nature, as well as Eliza’s contributions, especially in illustrating his finds. Historical detail abounds: of London, then Tasmania and NSW in the 1830s, revealing elements of society, art and printing, lithography, science, nature and research. I was fascinated by all this, and struck with admiration for Eliza’s strength of character and the tremendously delicate skill of her oeuvre; none of which was mentioned in those school days. In her fictional account Ashley gives true weight to Eliza’s half of the partnership, illuminating the human costs of triumphs that are often overlooked when considering Gould’s vast legacy to natural history.
Andrew: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders—Abraham Lincoln’s young son is dead and the president’s grief is so raw and debilitating that it is manifesting in ways that may just tear the universe from its hinges. Bardo is an obscure Tibetan word that approximates ‘limbo’ and this novel takes place over the course of a single night in the graveyard where young Willie is still warm in the grave. Or the tomb to be precise. Lincoln in the Bardo is simply stupendous. I haven’t been as enthralled by a novel this much in years. In form it is a bit out-there to say the least; made up of a bricolage of voices (some are authentic historical quotes, but the majority are the voices of the multitude of ghosts that inhabit the graveyard). Don’t be put off, however, if that sounds too difficult or too preposterous. The book is very accessible and wonderfully engaging; with a plot that is propelled just as competently as it would be using a more traditional narrative technique. It is, like its voices, a multitude of things. One moment it dwells on the moral ambivalences of an unpopular president sending thousands of young soldiers to war in a politically motivated, and in many circles, unpopular war (sound familiar?)—the next it ricochets off to a raucous bit of gutter humour. Outrageously funny, and yet tender and moving; macabre one moment, profound the next. In a funny way it reminds me a bit of Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts, a really charming novel in which the voices of actors (who are putting on an outdoor history pageant) drift and echo around the English countryside. The Woolf is a light-hearted oddity; a bit stuffy, an obtuse, acquired taste, that I adore because it regularly spills over with luminous poetic prose. Lincoln in the Bardo’s pleasures are far more manifest—it is brazen, big-hearted, and big-thinking. Vulgar, poignant, poetic, whatever you like; just read it. It could well be, although it’s only February, my book of the year.
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Zadie Smith Liane Moriarty
and another thing.....
Jim Shepard’s 2007 short story collection, Like You’d Understand Anyway was one of those times when judging a book by its cover really works in your favour—it was an eye-catching hard cover import that I couldn’t resist. But what was inside the cover was even better. The stories range across historical subjects from Greek playwright Aeschylus, the Chernobyl disaster to the 1964 Alaska earthquake and starcrossed cosmonauts. I read them all in one night, and they’ve stayed with me, half remembered like pieces of my own life—quite an achievement. So I’m very happy to see there’s a new collection, The World To Come (P.5)—this time with English Arctic explorers, 18th century French balloonists & a couple of mid-19th century housewives—released this month. While I’m waiting on my copy to arrive I’m going to be dipping into the Ursula Le Guin’s collection of essays, Words are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books 2000–2016 (p. 18). And on the same page, Elaine Scarry has a new book about Shakespeare’s sonnets, and ‘his beautiful young man’, which I’m drawn to. But her name was already on the top of my head as I was considering rereading her book about the American constitution’s instructions regarding declarations of war and the rigorous testing by both Congress and citizenry, and the unfortunate trump card to this rigorous testing post-nuclear presidents are given with ‘first strike’. The book is called Thermonuclear Monarchy—an anxiety inducing title given the President is currently being referred to as Mad King Donald. On a lighter note, I just got a proof of the new Laurent Binet (to be released in May). HHhH, his novel about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich and the writing of history, was my favourite book of 2012. His new book, The 7th Function of Language, is a ‘semiotic detective’ story. In another intense mix of fact and fiction, the death of Roland Barthes and the possible theft of an important document is being investigated by an academichating cop and his unwilling sidekick—a post-graduate student dragooned into working for the cop as a semiotics interpreter. I’m 50 pages in and having a whale of a time. Gilles Deleuze has just conducted a deconstruction of Jimmy Connor’s aristocratic low, skimming shots and Bjorn Borg’s proletarian topspin—Bayard, the cop, ‘sits down on the sofa. He has a feeling he’s going to have to listen to a lot of crap’. Viki
For more March new releases go to:
Elizabeth Strout Viet Thanh Nguyen
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