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gleaner Vol. 24 No. 4 May 2017
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S Y D N E Y W R I T E R S F E S T I V A L
22ND - 28TH MAY 2
New this month: The Australian Bird Guide Get twitching at a Gleebooks special price 1
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but few things in my forty years at Gleebooks have struck me more forcefully than the changing face of ‘marketing the author’ in the book industry. The upcoming, wonderfully enticing Sydney Writers’ Festival reminds me again of how incredibly helpful to the success of any book is the positive exposure of the author to his/her public. It’s a very crowded marketplace, and writers now compete for attention in all forms of media with many other artists and art forms, so there is something peculiarly interesting about the capacity of Writers’ Festival to allow writers, both established and new, a chance to shine. And not in any way surprising that those so expert in wordsmithing should often shine in conversation, on panels, or just reading from their works. So it’s with my usual positive air of vicarious excitement (as part of Gleebooks SWF book selling team I’ll see nothing—thank goodness for the ABC and the Festival’s own podcasts! So I’ll give my pick of which sessions I’d get to, if I could. There are hundreds of writers and lots to see, so this is just a snapshot. Of course I would want to see the charismatic Booker prize winner Paul Beatty, but a previous winner, Anne Enright, is a favourite of mine (The Green Road was one of my best books of 2015) and not to be missed. I think George Saunders, that brilliant American short story writer and commentator touring Australia for the first time, has written an astonishingly original novel in Lincoln in the Bardo. He shouldn’t be missed. Neither should (on a completely different tack) the great American journalist, Thomas Friedman, on Trump’s America. Bill Hayes has shown himself to be a beautiful writer about New York, himself, and his relationship with the much loved Oliver Sacks. And the subject matter alone of The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead would be compelling enough for a session. The bonus is the quality of the writing (the book just won the Pulitzer Prize). I would love to hear the invariably eloquent Robert Dessaix on The Pleasures of Leisure, and also the four writers on Helen Garner (including Bernadette Brennan, who recently published a splendid critical biography on Garner). And I would certainly catch anybody Richard Fidler decides to interview. Last, but by no means least, I’d love to watch the sheer joy on the faces of the hundreds of kids who will show up on the weekend to revel in Lauren Child’s ‘Quirky Characters’. Should be priceless fun. David
The Last Garden by Eva Hornung ($30, PB)
The settlement of Wahrheit, founded in exile to await the return of the Messiah, has been waiting longer than expected. Pastor Helfgott has begun to feel the subtle fraying of the community’s faith. Then Matthias Orion shoots his wife and himself, on the very day their son Benedict returns home from boarding school. Benedict is unmoored by shock, severed from his past and his future. Unable to be inside the house, unable to speak, he moves into the barn with the horses and chooks, relying on the animals’ strength and the rhythm of the working day to hold his shattered self together. The pastor watches over Benedict through the year of his crazy grief: man and boy growing, each according to his own capacity, as they come to terms with the unknowable past and the frailties of being human.
Gleebooks’ special price $26.99
Those Pleasant Girls by Lia Weston ($30, PB)
Evie Pleasant, née Bouvier, is back in town. In a figure-hugging skirt, high heels and a pin-up hairdo, she’s unrecognisable from the wild child who waged war on Sweet Meadow in her youth. She’s made a promise to herself: ‘No swearing. No drinking. No stealing. No fires.’ Trailing a reluctant 16-year-old daughter and armed with cake making equipment, Evie’s divorce and impending poverty has made her desperate enough to return to Sweet Meadow to seduce her former partner-in-crime and start again. But the townsfolk have long memories and the renegade ex-boyfriend is now the highlyrespected pastor. Evie’s cakes have a job to do.
Disappearing off the Face of the Earth by David Cohen ($30, PB)
Hideaway Self Storage, located just off Brisbane’s M1, is in decline. But manager Ken Guy & his assistant Bruce carry on with their daily rituals. Lately, however, certain tenants have been disappearing off the face of the earth, leaving behind units full of valuable items. Ken has no idea where these rent defaulters have gone but he thinks he might be able to turn their abandoned ‘things’ into a nice little earner that could help save his business. But the disappearances are accompanied by strange occurrences such as Bruce’s inexplicable late-night excursions, Ken’s intensifying aversion to fluorescent lights, and Ken’s girlfriend’s intensifying aversion to Ken. While further along the motorway, construction of a rival facility—Pharoah’s Tomb Self Storage, part of a nationwide franchise—hints at a mysterious past and a precarious future.
And Watch The Whale Explode: UTS Writer’s Anthology 2017 ($27, PB)
When a whale washes up on the shore of a beach there is only one surety: it must explode. Sometimes a bystander, anticipating the inevitable, pokes the gaseous figure; the skin rips, and it is done. Our world can feel like the brimming belly of a beached whale, the pressure building, an indeterminate force compelling us to take an explosive action, even when it makes little to no sense. A girl takes a pair of shears to a black-dashed line on her skin; a woman tries to stem the flow of snake venom in the blood of a man who is already dead; an epileptic wears a crash helmet ‘round the clock; a man with only one good arm cuts it off with a chainsaw, and how? After every explosion, a throng of people approach the beach cautiously, collecting the debris together. Introduced by essayist, poet and critic, Fiona Wright, this is the 31st edition of the UTS Writers’ Anthology.
The Yellow Wave by Jane Miller ($23, PB)
In 1895 Britain’s attention and military forces are diverted by a Russian attack on India, and Australia is left defenceless. The Yellow Wave is an adaptation of a 19th century novel by Kenneth Mackay that told the story of the invasion of Australia by a Russian-led Mongol force. Peopled with extraordinary characters, swiftly plotted, and thrillingly romantic, this influential classic fantasy is as fascinating today as it was more than a century ago—foreshadowing the rapid growth of nationalism in the 20th Century.
Closing Down by Sally Abbott ($30, PB) Australia’s rural towns and communities are closing down, much of Australia is being sold to overseas interests, states and countries and regions are being realigned worldwide. Town matriarch Granna Adams, her grandson Roberto, the lonely and thoughtful Clare—all try in their own way to hold on to their sense of self, even as the world around them fractures. What would you do if all you held to be familiar was lost? More importantly, where do you belong? An extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new Australian voice.
New Text Classics $12.95 each The Visit by Amy Witting Introduced by Susan Johnson A Change in the Lighting by Amy Witting Introduced by Ashley Hay
Australian Literature The Lost Pages by Marija Pericic
2017 Vogel Award Winner. It is 1908, and Max Brod is the rising star of Prague’s literary world. Everything he desires—fame, respect, love— is finally within his reach. But when a rival appears on the scene, Max discovers how quickly he can lose everything he has worked so hard to attain. He knows that the newcomer, Franz Kafka, has the power to eclipse him for good, and he must decide to what lengths he will go to hold onto his success. But there is more to Franz than meets the eye, and Max, too, has secrets that are darker than even he knows, secrets that may in the end destroy both of them.
The River Sings by Sandra Leigh Price ($33, PB) Born the same day as the young princess destined to be queen, Eglantine has an altogether different path ahead of her, strewn with the glittering waste of her father’s ambitions. Her mysteriously prosperous father, Mr Amberline Stark, is a man of great expectations. He coaxes her to follow in his footsteps, making picking pockets a delightful parlour game which they play in their fine house by the Thames. Eglantine’s life before her arrival at the house remains a mystery, her memories wrapped up in a small doll she keeps close to her, and with it the fragmentary recollections of her mother. It is only when Amberline is caught and transported as a thief to the penal colony of Australia, that Eglantine has to grow up and fend for herself using her only skill. Reluctantly, the thief’s daughter becomes a thief, until a chance meeting gives her a window on a new way of being, and the opportunity to strike out into a new and untarnished world. But will the weight of her father’s choices make her a prisoner in the house at the side of the Thames? Girl in Between by Anna Daniels ($30, PB)
Lucy Crighton has just moved in with some gregarious housemates called Brian and Denise—who are her parents. She’s also the proud mother of Glenda, her beloved 10-year-old—kelpie. And she has absolutely no interest in the dashing son of her parents’ new next-door neighbour —well, maybe just a little. As the girl in between relationships, careers and cities, Lucy is facing some awkward truths—like her mum’s obsession with Cher, her father’s unsolicited advice, and the probability there’s more cash on the floor of her parents’ car than in her own bank account. TV comedy writer Anna Daniels has written a warm, funny, and charmingly Australian story about life at the crossroads.
The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre by Dominic Smith ($23, PB)
When the vision came, he was in the bathtub. So begins the madness of Louis Daguerre. In 1847, after a decade of using poisonous mercury vapours to cure his daguerreotype images, his mind is plagued by delusions. Believing the world will end in a year, Daguerre creates his ‘Doomsday List’: ten items he must photograph before the final day. He enlists the help of the womanising poet Charles Baudelaire, and a jaded and beautiful prostitute named Pigeon. Together they scour the Paris underworld for images worthy of Daguerre’s list. But Louis is also confronted by a chance to reunite with the only woman he’s ever loved. Half a lifetime ago, Isobel Le Fournier kissed him in a wine cave outside of Orleans. The result was a proposal, a rejection, and a misunderstanding that outlasted three kings and an emperor. Now, in the countdown to his apocalypse, Louis wants to understand why he has carried the memory of that kiss for so long.
Homing by Shevaun Cooley ($24, PB) Shevaun Cooley was born and raised in the south west of Western Australia, but has been drawn ceaselessly to the landscapes of North Wales, where she lived for a time in her early twenties. Her poems are written out of the questions this divided orientation raises—about what constitutes a home, and how we might find our way there. Animals have an ability to home that seems both biological and intuitive. Do we have this compass too? Cooley calls in mythical resonances, the testimony of poets and scientists, and the resources of language, to sharpen her alertness to her surroundings. Afloat in Light by David Adès ($23, PB)
David Adès’ collection, Afloat in Light, is chiefly a celebration of fatherhood and of paying attention, using Simone Weil’s notion that ‘attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity’. Maps and moral compass are never far away in such explorations and like all good navigators Adès consults the moon and the stars to guide him through emotional terrain that crosses the globe via Australia, India and the United States. Poems about connection and love—familial, intimate, parental and friendship—hold their weight of history via scar tissue and heritage to allow ‘a vast and full space to fill the maps of our lives Adès delicately balances that most crucial aspect of life—of how the ordinary is anything but.
It’s May, which of course means Sydney Writers’ Festival—yet again packed with wonderful writers and exciting events. My guess is that George Saunders will be the star of the show, but I am not going to pretend that I read Lincoln in the Bardo which is all written in quotes from real and imaginary people. Too much like hard work methinks although I’m assured that once you get the hang of the format, you can’t put it down. There’s much to look forward to at the SWF and for once I am going to book for some of the paid events and not miss out like I usually do. I’m liking the look of the Slate Culture Gabfest and Advice from Nasty Women at the Town Hall on Saturday night. I’d also love to hear Bernadette Brennan, Annabel Crabb and Fiona McFarlane talking about the work of Helen Garner, but will probably be keeping the home fires burning on D’Hill that morning. Lesser known writers who are attending the festival I recommend to you are the short story writer Joy Williams, Chris Kraus, author of the naughtily titled I Love Dick ($20), which is not actually a naughty book. You should get a laugh with Jamie Morton who’ll be talking about his hilarious book My Dad Wrote a Porno ($30). His Dad actually did write a porno, and the book is his father’s execrably bad text with extremely funny annotations by Jamie and his friends. Very naughty.
A writer NOT coming to SWF, but who is my writer of the month is Colm Tóibín, whose latest novel House of Names ($30) is a brilliant retelling of the story of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon and their children Orestes and Electra. I have to admit I find it hard to get my head around Greek mythology—did these characters actually exist or were they fictional characters invented by Homer? And what can it all mean? Still, it’s all storytelling in the end and this is storytelling at its most brutal, tender, visceral, heart-wrenching best. Tóibín veers away from accepted versions of this ancient story—in his book Electra and Orestes don’t go together to Athens but Electra stays in the palace plotting the murder of her mother and her lover, while Orestes spends some years living on a farm with Leander (a character who seems to be a Tóibín invention) unaware until his return of his father’s murder. Orestes is a weak man and is convinced by his sister Electra to commit matricide—not a spoiler unless like me, you knew nothing of the original story. As in any great novel, the reader cannot help but believe and invest in these characters and their fates. It matters not whether the story is ‘true’ or ‘false’. Now I want to go back and read all the Tóibíns I’ve missed, which is everything except The Master which also played with ideas of truth and fiction, given that writer Henry James is the main character. See you on D’Hill, Morgan
Hush: A Fugue by Dominique Hecq ($23, PB)
‘Life goes on, they say’, says Dominique Hecq in her startling and moving new book of lined and prose poetry, Hush. Then, ‘Life goes on leaving’. A response to the death of a child, charting the near death and revival of a marriage and family, Hush is the lyric meditation of a true scholar, deeply inflected by theory but driven by the urgencies of the body. Seeming at first to span a year of seasons, then suddenly encompassing fifteen years, the poems chart a remarkable inner journey, which begins in starvation, a refusal of the sensuous, but finally recollects not joy so much as presence.
Communists Like Us by John Falzon ($23, PB)
This is a simple love story, a little fiction told in a hundred poems, a hundred little places to live large, fragments of a story of love in a time of struggle. But then, when isn’t it a time of struggle? And when is a story not about love? And when isn’t love a fragmented but tender dialectic of the personal as political? Falzon celebrates and explores the possibilities of political engagement in the midst of the very simple, the very human; an attempt at a confluence of dust and desire.
Preparations for Departure by Nathanael O’Reilly
The poems in this transnational, cosmopolitan collection traverse 14 countries, from Australia, the poet’s homeland, to the US, his place of residence, making stops in ancestral homelands Ireland & England, passing through continental Europe & the Middle East. Crossing both visible & invisible borders, excavating landscapes and the local, belonging and unbelonging, cross-cultural exchanges, expatriation, globalisation, exile, identity, youth, loss, relationships, aging, and death, the speakers in the poems are often in motion or making preparations for departure, unwilling and unable to remain static, always eager to explore. ($23, PB)
International Literature From bogan to boned and beyond — a full-frontal 'femoir' by one of Australia's best-loved journalists
Men Without Women: Stories by Haruki Murakami ($35, HB)
‘I find writing novels a challenge, writing stories a joy. If writing novels is like planting a forest, then writing short stories is more like planting a garden.’Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, all marked by the same wry humour that has defined Murakami’s entire body of work.
Gleebooks’ special price $30 Let Go My Hand by Edward Docx ($30, PB)
A hilarious tour through small but very strange places
'Look first. Reach second. Vanish third.'
Despite his unshakable faith in the love of his second marriage, Larry Lasker struggles with the guilt of having wrecked one home to make another. His middle-aged sons, Ralph & Jack, never recovered from the divorce & still live each day in rebuke to their father. Even Larry’s youngest & favourite son, Lou, born more than a decade later, hasn’t escaped the corrosive effects of the long-buried secrets & lies that have come to define the family. Everyone always assumed the mess could be sorted out later. But now Larry has a terminal illness. In the time he has left, he desperately wants two things: to heal the wounds he’s caused and to choose when his own life ends. So he sets off on what might be his final journey, a road trip across Europe just like the ones he used to take in the boys’ summer holidays. But will his sons come together to aid in his dying wish? Is redemption or forgiveness possible any more? Can a family’s love prove powerful enough to keep a dying man alive?
Out this month: Freeman’s: Home (ed) John Freeman ($33, PB) The President’s Gardens by Muhsin Al-Ramli ($33, PB)
On the third day of Ramadan, the village wakes to find the severed heads of 9 of its sons stacked in banana crates by the bus stop. One of them belonged to one of the most wanted men in Iraq, known to his friends as Ibrahim the Fated. How did this good & humble man earn the enmity of so many? What did he do to deserve such a death? The Familiar Things by Hwang Sok-Yong ($28, PB) answer lies in his lifelong friendship with Abdullah Kafka & Tariq the Seoul. On the outskirts of South Korea’s glittering metropolis is a place few people Befuddled, who each have their own remarkable stories to tell. It lies know about: a vast landfill site called Flower Island. Populated by those driven on the scarred, irradiated battlefields of the Gulf War & in the ashes from the city by poverty, is it here that 14-year-old Bugeye and of a revolution strangled in its cradle. It lies in the steadfast love of his mother arrive, following his father’s internment in a ‘re-eduhis wife & the festering scorn of his daughter. And, above all, it lies cation camp’. As Bugeye and his mother settle in to living among behind the locked gates of The President’s Gardens, buried alongside the strange folk of Flower Island, they build themselves a shack the countless victims of a pitiless reign of terror. and begin earning a living weeding recyclables out of the vast The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve ($30, PB) piles of refuse brought in daily from the city. But then Bugeye 1947. After a summer-long drought, fires are racing along the coast begins to notice mysterious lights around the landfill at night— of Maine, ravaging two hundred thousand acres—the largest fire and as spring comes to the garbage mountain, a danger that has in the state’s history. Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left lain dormant begins to surface. alone to protect her two toddlers when her husband Gene joins the
Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves by Rachel Malik ($35, HB)
During the WW2, Rene Hargreaves leaves her children with her aunt and boards a train without buying a return ticket, so sure is she that she never wants to see her husband again. Instead she starts a new life as a Land Girl on Starlight Farm. She finds its owner Elsie Boston and her country ways strange at first, yet as their relationship develops they become inextricably dependent on each other, long after the war has ended. When their shared life is suddenly threatened by a visitor who comes to stay, and something that happens not long after, they must begin to fight a war of their own against not just their community, but the nation’s press, and the full force of the law.
Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag ($25, PB) A close-knit family is delivered from near-destitution to sudden wealth after the narrator’s uncle founds a successful spice company. The narrator, along with his sister, his parents, and his uncle move from a cramped, ant-infested shack to a larger house and encounter newfound wealth, the family dynamics begin to shift. Allegiances & desires realign; marriages are arranged & begin to falter; and conflict brews ominously in the background. Their world becomes ‘ghachar ghochar’—a nonsense phrase that, to the narrator, comes to mean something entangled beyond repair. Punctuated by moments of unexpected warmth and humour, Ghachar Ghochar is a quietly enthralling, deeply unsettling novel about the shifting meanings—and consequences—of financial gain in contemporary India.
New in B Format The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin, $23 Conclave by Robert Harris, $23 Barkskins by Annie Proulx, $25
volunteers fighting to bring the fire under control. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie’s two young children, the women watch in horror as their houses go up in flames, then walk into the ocean as a last resort. They spend the night frantically trying to save their children. When dawn comes, they have miraculously survived, but their lives are forever changed: homeless, penniless, and left to face an uncertain future in a town that no longer exists. The Walworth Beauty by Michele Roberts ($25, PB) When Madeleine loses her job as a lecturer, she decides to leave her riverside flat in cobbled Stew Lane, where history never feels far away, and move to Apricot Place. Yet here too, in this quiet Walworth cul-de-sac, she senses the past encroaching—a shifting in the atmosphere, a current of unseen life. 1851—and Joseph Benson has been employed by Henry Mayhew to help research his articles on the working classes. A family man with mouths to feed, Joseph is tasked with coaxing testimony from prostitutes. Roaming the Southwark streets, he is tempted by brothels’ promises of pleasure and as he struggles with his assignment, he seeks answers in Apricot Place, where the enigmatic Mrs Dulcimer runs a boarding house. As these entwined stories unfold, alive with the sensations of London past & present, the two eras brush against each other a breath at Madeleine’s neck, a voice in her head the murmurs of ghosts echoing through time.
The Coming by David Osborne ($30, HB) In 1805, Lewis and Clark stumble out of the Rockies on the edge of starvation. The Nez Perce help the explorers build canoes and navigate the rapids of the Columbia, then spend two months hosting them the following spring before leading them back across the snowbound mountains. Daytime Smoke, the real-life red-haired son of William Clark and a Nez Perce woman—whose life spanned the 7 decades between first contact & the last great Indian war— is born not long after. The tribe continues a deep friendship with white Americans, from fur trappers to missionaries, even aiding the US government in wars with neighbouring tribes. But when gold is discovered on Nez Perce land in 1860, it sets an inevitable tragedy in motion.
The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet
Arriving at his 4th school in 6 years, diplomat’s son Osei Kokote knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day—so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy & the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players—teachers & pupils alike—will never be the same again. The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970s’ suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in & out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practise a casual racism picked up from their parents & teachers.
Spoils by Brian Van Reet ($33, PB) It is the spring of 2003 and coalition forces are advancing on Iraq. Images of a giant statue of Saddam Hussein crashing to the ground in Baghdad are being beamed to news channels around the world. 19-year-old Specialist Cassandra Wigheard, on her first deployment since joining the US army two years earlier, is primed for war. For Abu al-Hool, a jihadist since the days of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, war is wearing thin. Two decades of fighting—and the new wave of super-radicalised fighters joining the ranks in the wake of the September 11 attacks—have left him questioning his commitment to the struggle. When Cassandra is taken prisoner by al-Hool’s mujahideen brotherhood, both fighters will find their loyalties tested to the very limits.
Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout ($30, HB)
Years ago, Lucy Barton, a successful New York writer, spent time in hospital, with her mother at the foot of her bed to keep her company. Avoiding the distance between them, they spoke at length about people from their home town, the rural, dusty town of Amgash, Illinois. Writing these stories, Lucy imagines the lives of the people that she especially remembers. And the people she has imagined that, in small ways, have remembered her too. For isn’t it true that we all hope to be remembered? Or to think in some way—even fleetingly —that we have been important to someone? A novel in stories by the No. 1 New York Times bestselling and Man Booker long-listed author of My Name is Lucy Barton
What does a grieving widow do? Sail to Antarctica!
Come and listen to mountains author
MINNIE BIGGS discuss her memoir Shards of Ice with WINTON HIGGINS Shards of Ice is about Antarctica, the death of a beloved husband and grief. This books joins a growing literature that entwines the experiences of illness, dying and bereavment with a meditation on place - a quite unusual place in this case - and its less well-known history. Minnie wrote her first book when she was 13 and has been writing ever since. Shards of Ice is her first memoir. She was born in New York and now lives in Kurrajong. Minnie will be in conversation with Sydney author and academic Winton Higgins who wrote Rule of Law, published last year.
The Idiot by Elif Batuman ($33, PB)
It is September 1995. Selin, a Turkish-American college freshman from New Jersey, is about to embark on her first year at Harvard University, where she is determined to decipher the mysteries of language and to become a writer. In between studying psycholinguistics and the philosophy of language, teaching ESL to a Costa Rican plumber, and befriending her classmate Svetlana (a Serbian refugee from Connecticut), Selin falls in love with a Hungarian maths student in her Russian class. She spends the summer in the Hungarian countryside teaching English to village children, where sad and comic misunderstandings ensue.
The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence by Alyssa Palombo ($30, PB)
A girl as beautiful as Simonetta Cattaneo never wants for marriage proposals in 15th Century Italy, but she jumps at the chance to marry Marco Vespucci. Marco is young, handsome and well-educated, and one of the powerful Medici family’s favoured circle. Simonetta is swept up into Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici’s glittering circle of politicians, poets, artists & philosophers—but it is her acquaintance with a young painter, Sandro Botticelli, which strikes her heart most. Botticelli immediately invites Simonetta, newly proclaimed the most beautiful woman in Florence, to pose for him. As Simonetta learns to navigate her marriage, her place in Florentine society, and the politics of beauty and desire, she and Botticelli develop a passionate intimacy, one that leads to her immortalisation in his masterpiece, The Birth of Venus.
A New Map of Love by Abi Oliver ($30, PB) George Baxter has settled for a comfortable life, content as the years unfold predictably—until Win, his wife of 26 years, dies. With his loyal dog Monty by his side, George throws himself into his work as an antiques dealer. His business is at the heart of the village & all sorts pass through the doors. When George meets local widow Sylvia Newsome, he imagines a different kind of future. But life has more revelations to offer him. Over the course of an English summer George uncovers some unexpected mysteries from his past, which could shape his tomorrows.
New Boy: Othello retold by Tracy Chevalier ($30, PB)
When I go on holidays I usually like to take a book that is either written in, or about the place that I am visiting. So what does one take when visiting Havana Cuba? The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway of course! I have a confession to make… I have not been a fan of Hemingway, having started For Whom the Bell Tolls which I didn’t like. But after immersing myself in Hemingway’s life in Cuba, I may change my mind and give it another go. I visited the house where Hemingway lived in Havana (which has been left untouched since 1961 when he had to leave due to illness), drank at his favourite bar and read The Old Man and the Sea which truly is a remarkable book. No wonder it received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. I think he is the master of the novella. This short book is packed with adventure, philosophy and emotion—I was there on that boat with that old man. It may be short, but it is just enough—you are not left wanting any more when you finish. It is definitely worth re-visiting these classics to remember just why they are classics. Now I’m back and we have a book event in early May before the Sydney Writers Festival begins. Local author Minnie Biggs will be in conversation with author and academic Winton Higgins to discuss her moving memoir Shards of Ice. See below for details. Victoria Jefferys
Roland Barthes, one of the 20th century’s towering literary figures, is knocked down in a Paris street by a laundry van. It’s February 1980 and he has just come from lunch with François Mitterrand, who is locked in a battle for the Presidency. Barthes dies soon afterwards. History tells us it was an accident. But what if it were an assassination? What if Barthes was carrying a document of unbelievable, global importance? That document was the key to the 7th function of language—an idea so powerful it gives whoever masters it the ability to convince anyone, in any situation, to do anything. Police Captain Jacques Bayard and his reluctant accomplice Simon Herzog set off on a global chase that takes them from the corridors of power & academia to backstreet saunas & midnight rendezvous. ($33, PB)
When: Where: Cost:
Saturday 6 may, 2017
2.30pm for 3.00pm start Glenella GueSt HouSe 56 Govetts leap rd, Blackheath $15 ($12 concession) includes afternoon tea
Tickets available at Gleebooks Blackheath or phone Gleebooks on 4787 6340 or email email@example.com
One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel ($25, HB) A father & his boys have won ‘the war’: the father’s term for his bitter divorce & custody battle. They leave Kansas& drive through the night to their new apartment in Albuquerque. Settled in new schools, the brothers join basketball teams, make friends. Meanwhile their father works from home, smoking cheap cigars to hide another smell. Soon his missteps—the dead-eyed absentmindedness, the late-night noises, the comings & goings of increasingly odd characters—become sinister, and the boys find themselves watching him transform into someone they no longer recognize. Brutal and urgent, Magariel’s debut novel is a story of two brothers driven to protect each other from the father they once trusted.
THE WILDER AISLES
Sometimes I think there is a little bit of OCD in me. However, having read Lily Bailey’s memoir Because We are Bad ($30) I’ve decided that just because I like things in straight lines, each side of the tablecloth equal, and I am very fond of colour coordination, doesn’t mean I have a problem. The subtitle of Bailey’s book is A Memoir of OCD and it is the story of her battle with this demanding, mind-destroying enemy. Lily grew up thinking she was bad, that she could kill someone with her thought, that somehow she could spread disease. Her memoir is an account of struggling to fit in, while desperately trying to make sense of her world—a silent fight that she keeps to herself so as not to betray the constant aberrant thoughts and perceptions that haunt her. She shows how the obsessions and rituals she used in attempt to control these thoughts took over her life. Some rituals are easy to see—like compulsively washing hands, checking over and over that the door is locked, or that light switches are turned off. Lily refers to these actions as the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Her problem was far more serious—with her real obsessions and compulsions kept buried deep in her mind. She had to make mental lists, obsessing over things that made her bad. In these lists each word became a letter, and these built up until she had hundreds flooding her mind. To complicate matters, she had another self she referred to as ‘Her’, who kept the bad Lily from escaping her obsessions, telling her that she was bad and making sure that her obsessions and compulsive behaviours were the most important part of her life. How Lily recovers and starts to lead a more normal life, makes for very interesting and thought-provoking reading. I found the book hard to put down—and I was on Lily’s side all the way through. Now for something a bit lighter—Anne Ostby’s novel, Pieces of Happiness: A Novel of Friendship, Hope and Chocolate ($33, due in June). Kat, who has lead an adventurous life travelling all over the world, finds herself, recently-widowed and settled in Fiji. There she grows cocoa, helped by her manager Moses. Ateca, another widow, helps out in the house. Atica delivers little comments on the behaviour of the guests between each chapter. The guests are Kat’s friends from back in the day—including four former girlfriends from her schooldays. Having decided she doesn’t want to live alone in her large house, Kate invites these school friends to leave behind the cold weather for a tropical breeze and the deep blue sea. They are Sina, who on arriving announces that she is broke, chiefly because of her over indulged son; Lisbeth, living on her own—bored, sad, trying to fill her days; then there is Ingrid, escaping from too much time spent indoors working; and Maya, who is having problems remembering people and places. How these four react when they all come together in Fiji, and how they all change upon staying there—discovering skills and abilities they didn’t know that they had, makes for a great read. They all have issues to contend with, including Kat, but they are filled with hope for a second chance at life when they decide to make chocolate, and through this they discover the true value of friendship, and the ability to forgive and accept what life has thrown at them. I have long been a fan of Elly Griffiths crime stories set in Norfolk—a part of England I find fascinating. As an aside, if you haven’t read Graham Swift’s Waterland I urge you to do so—it made this part of England really come alive for me. But to get back to Elly Griffiths’ new novel, The Chalk Pit ($33) w ... As in all her Norfolk stories, it features forensic archeologist, Dr Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson. Bones have been found in a tunnel under Norwich—they look as if they have been boiled—in maybe a medieval ritual. It seems that there is a vast network of tunnels beneath Norwich, some of them chalk—from the old days of chalk mining. When the bones are found to be modern, a whole new picture comes into view. Along with the discovery of the bones, it seems as if a homeless person has gone missing. DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a rough sleeper. This is not taken seriously by the other members of the team—but then a middle-class wife and mother also disappears, and the investigation steps up a notch. Also involved is architect Quentin Swan, who wants to build an underground nightclub and restaurant. He becomes worried that his plans may be put on hold because of an excavation related to the murder enquiry is to take place. Along with all this, there is the continuing story of the relationship between Harry and Ruth. Harry is the father of Ruth’s child, Kate—conceived while being Harry was married to Michelle, the mother of his two daughters. So complicated! At the end of the book, there is a feeling that something may be happening on that front. I have to say I have quite a soft spot for Harry and Ruth and think that they should get together, but it is not up to me. This is a highly entertaining novel to while a way a Sunday afternoon—now that autumn is upon us. Janice Wilder
Fallout by Sara Paretsky ($30, PB)
V.I. Warshawski’s impossible god-daughter Bernie convinces her to look for August, a young film-maker who has disappeared. The evidence indicates that he has gone to Kansas in the company of Emerald, an older black movie actress who wants to film the story of her life. V.I.’s search takes her from the military base Emerald was born on, to the farm where she grew up outside a university town. What is happening at the former nuclear missile site next door to the farm? What happened at the site in 1983, when students tried to stage their own version of Greenham Common? Everywhere V.I. turns she seems to be finding more trouble—with not a sign of August and Emerald. And then trouble turns to death.
The Thirst by Jo Nesbo ($33, PB)
A woman is found murdered after an internet date. The marks left on her body show the police that they are dealing with a particularly vicious killer. Under pressure from the media to find the murderer, the force know there’s only one man for the job. But Harry Hole is reluctant to return to the place that almost took everything from him. Until he starts to suspect a connection between this killing and his one failed case. When another victim is found, Harry realises he will need to put everything on the line if he’s to finally catch the one who got away.
The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea ($33, PB) Megan McDonald is a high school senior when she disappears from the small town of Emerson Bay. Miraculously, after two weeks held captive, she escapes from a bunker hidden deep in the woods. She has since become a national celebrity thanks to her bestselling book, Missing. It’s an inspiring story—except for one inconvenient detail. There was a second girl who was taken. Her classmate Nicole Cutty. Livia Cutty is a forensic pathologist. Every time a Jane Doe arrives at the morgue she wonders if it’s her missing sister. But the body of a young man, an apparent suicide, finally offers the first clue to Nicole’s fate. Livia reaches out to Megan— but Megan is having flashes of memory, and they are pointing to something more monstrous than anything her chilling memoir describes.
Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito ($30, PB) The air is hazy and grey with gunpowder smoke. Everyone has been shot but me. I haven’t got so much as a bruise. Maja Norberg has spent nine months in jail awaiting trial for a shooting in her school. Among those killed were her boyfriend and her best friend. Now the time has come for her to enter the courtroom. But is Maja a demonised victim—or coldblooded killer? The Killing Bay: A Faroes Novel by Chris Ould
When a group of international activists arrive on the Faroe Islands, intent on stopping the traditional whale hunts, tensions between islanders and protestors run high. And when a woman is found viciously murdered only hours after a violent confrontation, the circumstances seem purposely designed to increase animosity between the two sides. For Faroese detective Hjalti Hentze and DI Jan Reyna the case quickly exposes personal connections and conflicts of interest. But as they dig deeper, faced with deception on all sides, neither Reyna or Hentze know who to trust, or how far some people might go to defend their beliefs. ($17, PB)
Snatch by Gregory McDonald ($17, PB) Whether it’s a Middle East oil crisis in the 1970s or the London Blitz during WWII, world events have a way of breeding trouble on the home front, too. That’s how Toby Rinaldi, son of a U.N. Ambassador, wound up kidnapped on his way to a California amusement park, and how Robby Burnes, orphaned son of British nobility, wound up snatched on the snowy streets of NYC. These two brilliant kidnapping novels appear here for the first time in 3 decades in a single volume. Two precocious eight-year-old boys...two teams of kidnappers, in way over their heads... two opportunities for mayhem, danger, and the trenchant social satire no crime writer has ever delivered like Gregory Mcdonald.
The Cleaner by Elisabeth Herrmann ($30, PB) Who deals with the aftermath of violence once the bodies have been taken away? Judith Kepler is a crime scene specialist. She turns crime scenes back into habitable spaces. She is a cleaner. At the home of a woman who has been brutally murdered she is suddenly confronted with her own past. The murder victim knew Judith’s secret: as a child Judith was sent to an orphanage under mysterious circumstances—parentage unknown. And the East German secret police were always there, in the background. When Judith begins to ask questions, she becomes the target of some powerful enemies. Nothing will ever be the same again.
The City of Lies by Michael Russell ($33, PB) Dublin 1940. An IRA attempt to capture the British diplomatic bag on its way from Ireland to England leaves two Guards dead on the streets of Dublin. A pitched battle between warring gangs erupts at one of Ireland’s biggest race meetings. On Ireland’s east coast the cremated bodies of a wealthy family of five are found in their shuttered, burned-out villa. Connections between these events become clear to DI Stefan Gillespie when he is despatched from Special Branch to investigate the seaside deaths, but he is soon treading on the toes of Ireland’s burgeoning Intelligence industry—Irish, British and German, all playing against each other.
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins ($33, PB)
In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help. Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind. But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped. And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool.
Gleebooks’ special price $30
Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez
A woman returns to the rundown suburb of Buenos Aires her family once called home. From the safety of her window, she watches as a teenage prostitute raises her five-year-old son on the street. They sleep outside, surrounded by pimps & addicts, psychopaths & dealers, worshippers of the occult & corrupt police. One day, the mother & the dirty kid are gone, and the dismembered body of a child is found in the neighbourhood. Is the murder part of a satanic ritual, or a gangland killing? Could it be the dirty kid, and if so, is his mother a victim too; or an accomplice; or his killer? ($28, PB)
Books all mums will love
The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star by Vaseem Khan ($30, PB)
Parting Shot by Linwood Barclay ($30, PB)
Iris’s clan gathers in their holiday house for one last time, one last weekend, and one last party – unaware of the secrets and schisms that run through the family.
Mumbai thrives on extravagant spectacles and larger-than-life characters. But even in the city of dreams, there is no guarantee of a happy ending. Rising star and incorrigible playboy Vikram Verma has disappeared, leaving his latest film in jeopardy. Hired by Verma’s formidable mother to find him, Inspector Chopra and his sidekick, baby elephant Ganesha, embark on a journey deep into the world’s most flamboyant movie industry. As they uncover feuding stars, failed investments and death threats, it seems that many people have a motive for wanting Verma out of the picture. When a young girl from Promise Falls is killed by a drunk driver, the community wants answers. It doesn’t matter that the accused is a kid himself: all they see is that he took a life and got an easy sentence. As pack mentality kicks in and social media outrage builds, vicious threats are made against the boy and his family. When Cal Weaver is called in to investigate, he finds himself caught up in a cold-blooded revenge plot. Someone in the town is threatening to put right some wrongs.
Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane ($30, PB)
Rachel’s husband adores her. When she hit rock bottom, he was there with her every step of the way as she slowly regained her confidence, and her sanity. But his mysterious behaviour forces her to probe for the truth about her beloved husband. How can she feel certain that she ever knew him? And was she right to ever trust him? Lehane’s razor-sharp dialogue & breakneck twists and turns, will keep you in suspense until the very end.
Crimes of Winter by Philippe Georget ($30, PB)
This winter is going to be a rough one for Inspector Gilles Sebag, for he has discovered a terrible truth: Claire has been cheating on him. Bouncing between depression, whisky, and insomnia, he buries himself in work in an attempt to forget. But his investigations lead him inexorably to bigger tragedies—a woman murdered in a hotel, a depressed man who throws himself from the roof of his building, another who threatens to blow up the neighbourhood—all of them involving betrayals of some sort. Perpignan seems to be suffering from a veritable epidemic of crimes of passion. Adultery is everywhere! And each betrayal leads to another dramatic crime. Though professionally charmed, he is unlucky in love. He is a perfect protagonist for the town of Perpignan, sleepy and leisurely on the surface, seething with vice and violence underneath.
The Lake by Lotte & Søren Hammer ($30, PB) The skeleton of a young woman is discovered, tied to a stone, in a lake deep in the Danish countryside. The woman’s identity is a mystery; no one matching her description has been reported missing...After months of fruitless investigation by the local police force, a media scandal brings the case to nationwide attention and is quickly handed over to Konrad Simonsen and his team from the Copenhagen Police force. It soon becomes clear that this unknown woman is the key to a sinister world of human trafficking, prostitution and violence. A world where everything comes with a price and no mistake goes unpunished.
Watch Over Me by Claire Corbett ($30, PB) The foggy northern city of Port Angelsund is under occupation by the soldiers of Garrison. Sylvie is a young woman just trying to survive. When she is singled out for punishment at a Garrison checkpoint, a young lieutenant rescues her from torture. Though she knows the terrible risks of collaboration, she cannot stop herself from falling in love. Watched by Garrison’s vast machinery of surveillance, Sylvie is also under the protective gaze of her lover. When her older brother returns on a terrorist mission that will throw the city into chaos, Sylvie’s loyalties are tested —her deep bond with her brother and her illicit passion for her Garrison officer are loves that cannot coexist. Whatever she does is betrayal.
Art and passion in Paris In 1903, the artist Gwen John walks from Calais to Paris. Surviving on her wits and raw talent, she seeks out the great sculptor Auguste Rodin.
When the hunter is hunted Nick Chester is working for the NZ police after a botched undercover job. It’s a quiet life – unless you’re hiding from a hard man with a grudge, and there’s a killer on the loose in the Marlborough Sounds.
Now in B Format Fatal Pursuit by Martin Walker, $20 A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George, $20 Precious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith, $20
Hippy Days, Arabian Nights by Katherine Boland ($29.95, PB)
In 1976, Katherine and her boyfriend John, like many idealistic young students of the time, abandon their university studies and leave Melbourne to pursue a sustainable and independent life in the bush. Their earnest quest for a Utopian life in harmony with nature is both hilarious and serious: John finds himself reviving their dying goat with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in the back of a ute while on the way to the vet; and, under the stars, alone in the bush, a pregnant Katherine goes into labour to the sympathetic mooing of a neighbour’s cow. However, as Katherine reveals, even the strongest woman is vulnerable & the noblest of dreams can perish, observing as she does that in many families ‘peace, harmony & mung beans’ can founder on the back of drug addiction with its many consequences including family violence & child neglect. In part 2 of her memoir Katherine receives an invitation from the Egyptian Ministry of Culture to participate in an International Artists’ Symposium. And so begins her next fateful & totally unplanned foray into the unknown: falling head over heels in love (or is it lust!) for an Egyptian journalist 27 years her junior. Her ideas & preconceptions about Islam & the Middle East are challenged as her relationship evolves & deepens over the next 6 years.
Martin Luther by Peter Stanford ($45, HB)
The 31st of October 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther pinning his 95 ‘Theses’—or reform proposals—to the door of his local university church in Wittenberg. Most scholars now agree that the details of this eye-catching gesture are more legend than hammer & nails, but what is certainly true is that on this day (probably in a letter to his local Archbishop in Mainz), the Augustinian Friar & theologian issued an outspokenly blunt challenge to his own Catholic Church to reform itself from within—especially over the sale of ‘indulgences’—which ultimately precipitated a huge religious & political upheaval right across Europe and divided mainstream Christianity ever after. Journalist Peter Stanford, looks at Martin Luther from within his Catholic context, examining his actual aims for Catholicism as well as his enduring legacy—and where he might fit within the church today.
Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh ($28, PB)
Henry Marsh has spent a lifetime operating on the surgical frontline. There have been exhilarating highs and devastating lows, but his love for the practice of neurosurgery has never wavered. Prompted by his retirement from his full-time job in the NHS, and through his continuing work in Nepal and Ukraine, Henry has been forced to reflect more deeply about what forty years spent handling the human brain has taught him. Moving between encounters with patients in his London hospital, to those he treats in the more extreme circumstances of his work abroad, Henry faces up to the burden of responsibility that can come with trying to reduce human suffering.
The Only Girl in the World: A Memoir by Maude Julien ($33, PB)
Maude Julien’s childhood was defined by the iron grip of her father, who was convinced his daughter was destined for great deeds. His plan began when he adopted Maude’s mother & indoctrinated her with his esoteric ideals. Her mission was to give him a daughter as blonde as she was, and then to take charge of the child’s education. That child was Maude, on whom her father conducted his outrageous experiment—to raise the perfect ‘super-human’ being. The three lived in an isolated mansion in northern France, where her father made her undergo endless horrifying endurance tests. Maude had to hold an electric fence without flinching. Her parents locked her in a cellar overnight & ordered her to sit still on a stool in the dark, contemplating death, while rats scurried at her feet. How did this girl, with her loveless and lonely childhood, emerge so unscathed, so full of the empathy that was absent in her childhood? How did she manage to escape? She recounts her chilling and deeply moving story in a compelling and compassionate voice.
The Good Girl of Chinatown by Jenevieve Chang ($33, PB)
From Sydney suburbia to the grey clouds of London, Jenevieve Chang has been running away for as long as she can remember. In 2008 she arrives in Shanghai, a city from her family’s past. Her marriage collapsing, she struggles to fit in with this over-the-top new world, and finds a new home in Shanghai’s first Vaudeville, Variety& Burlesque Club. Here she remakes herself as one of the Chinatown Dolls, the most sought-after showgirls in town. When the club begins to spectacularly derail, though, and with memories of the past pressing in, Chang finds herself more lost than ever. Struggling with her identity amid the hedonism and history of Shanghai, she realises that she’s following in the footsteps of her parents and her grandparents in unexpected ways she hadn’t realised. Now she must decide between the pleasure of propping up illusions or the possible redemption of facing up to her past.
Island Home: A Landscape Memoir by Tim Winton The natural world, in Tim Winton’s novels, is as much a living presence as any character, and what is true of his work is true of his life. From boyhood, his relationship with sea, scrub and swamp has been as vital as blood relations. The country has seeped into him, with its rhythms, its dangers, its strange sustenance. This is the story of how that relationship came to be, and also a passionate exhortation for all of us to feel the ground beneath our feet. ($24.99, PB)
Gleebooks’ special price $19.99
Between Them by Richard Ford ($19, HB) Richard Ford’s parents volunteered little about their early lives—and he rarely asked. Later, he pieced their stories together from anecdote, history & the occasional photograph, frozen moments linking him to another time. Edna Akin, a dark-eyed Arkansas beauty whose convent education was cut short by her itinerant parents, fell in love aged only 17. Parker Ford was a tall country boy who was working at a grocery in Hot Springs. They married & began a life on the road in the American South, as Parker followed his travelling salesman’s job. The 1930s were like one long weekend, a swirl of miles traversed, cocktails drunk & hotel rooms vacated: New Orleans, Memphis, Texarkana. Then a single, late child was born, changing everything. In this book, Richard Ford evokes a vivid panorama of mid-20th century America, and an intimate portrait of family life. For a Girl: A true story of secrets, motherhood and hope by Mary-Rose MacColl ($30, PB)
Emerging from an unconventional, boisterously happy childhood, award-winning author Mary-Rose MacColl was a rebellious teenager. And when, at the age of 15, her high-school teacher & her husband started inviting Mary-Rose to spend time with them, her parents were pleased that she now had the guidance she needed to take her safely into young adulthood. It wasn’t too long, though, before the teacher & her husband changed the nature of the relationship with overwhelming consequences for Mary-Rose. Consequences that kept her silent & ashamed through much of her adult life. Many years later, safe within a loving relationship, all of the long-hidden secrets & betrayals crashed down upon her & she came close to losing everything..
Because We Are Bad by Lily Bailey ($30, PB)
As a child, Lily Bailey knew she was bad. By the age of 13, she had killed someone with a thought, spread untold disease and ogled the bodies of other children. Only by performing an exhausting series of secret routines could she correct her wrongdoing. But it was never enough. She had a severe case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. From child to teenager to young woman, OCD had ruled Lily’s life, sending a bright, vital mind spinning into a downward vortex. Until she learnt a fundamental philosophical lesson. Raw and funny Bailey’s memoir reveals with humour, grace and searing honesty what it’s like to live with an almost intolerable burden of obsession.
Now in B Format East West Street by Philippe Sands, $23 The Pigeon Tunnel by John le Carré, $23 Father Missed His Plane by Vincent Lee ($20, PB)
On April 12, 1975, just days before Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge seized control of Phnom Penh, Vincent Lee’s father missed a chance to take his family and leave Cambodia on a US Marine Corp helicopter. Had they boarded the chopper, Vincent would not have had to endure four years of brutality and starvation. He and his family somehow survived the genocide, but then found themselves destitute when they returned to the ruined city that was once their home. In 1980, along with his 64-year-old grandmother, Vincent risked his life to cross the landmine-filled Cambodian jungle to reach a refugee camp in Thailand. This is a powerful real-life story of a boy surviving the Killing Fields of Cambodia. His experience as a refugee who ultimately found sanctuary has a special poignancy in today’s global political climate.
The Feud: Vladimir Nabokov, Edmund Wilson & the End of a Beautiful Friendship by Alex Beam ($49, HB)
In 1940, Edmund Wilson was the undisputed big dog of American letters. Vladimir Nabokov was a near-penniless Russian exile seeking asylum in the US. Wilson introduced Nabokov to every editor of note, assigned him book reviews for The New Republic & engineered a Guggenheim Fellowship. Their intimate friendship blossomed over a shared interest in all things Russian, ruffled a bit by political disagreements. But then came the worldwide best-selling novel Lolita, and the tables were turned. Suddenly Nabokov was the big (and very rich) dog. The feud finally erupted in full when Wilson slammed Nabokov’s hugely footnoted and virtually unreadable literal translation of Pushkin’s famously untranslatable verse novel, Eugene Onegin. This is the deliciously ironic (and sad) tale of how two literary giants destroyed their friendship in a fit of mutual pique & egomania.
The Crying of the Wind by Ithell Colquhoun ($20, PB) The Living Stones by Ithell Colquhoun ($20, PB)
These 2 books make up British Surrealist Ithell Colquhoun’s unique memoirs and travelogues, reprinted for the first time since 1957. British surrealist painter and writer Ithell Colquhoun recalls episodes from her travels in Ireland as a young woman turning her back on the modern world and setting out across the unruly Irish countryside. Here, among the holy wells, monasteries and tumuli, she finds a canvas on which her sensibility and animist beliefs can freely express themselves. It is a place where the wind cries, the stones tell old tales and the mountains watch over the roads and those who travel on them. By intuiting the eerie magic of Ireland, Colquhoun casts her own spell. She offers up a land of myth and legend, stripped of its modern signs, at the same time offering herself to the reader in this portrait of the artist as a young woman.
Athos: The Holy Mountain by Sydney Loch ($28, PB) Athos, the Holy Mountain of Greece, is a rugged pyramid that rises up from the Aegean Sea. Wreathed in myth, legend & ancient traditions that it remains largely hidden from view. The heart of Athos started to beat at the dawn of Christianity & its community lays claim to being the oldest democracy in the world. An entirely autonomous region of the Hellenic Republic, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries that cling to its rocky flanks. No women are allowed to set foot upon the peninsula & the monks who live on Athos still use the Julian calendar—‘Byzantine Time’, where each day starts at sunset. While living in the mountain’s shadow, in Ouranopolis, Sydney Loch spent many years exploring Athos, the result of which is an enthralling & vivid portrait of the Holy Mountain.
May To-Read List
This new psychological thriller from Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train, hinges on the stories we tell about our pasts and their power to destroy the lives we live.
Marked by the same wry humour that has defined his entire body of work, in this collection Murakami has crafted another contemporary classic.
Hidden Nature: A Voyage of Discovery by Alys Fowler Leaving her garden to the mercy of the slugs, gardener Alys Fowler set out in an inflatable kayak to explore Birmingham’s canal network, full of little-used waterways where huge pike skulk and kingfishers dart. Her book is about noticing the wild everywhere and what it means to see beauty where you least expect it. This is also the story of Alys Fowler’s emotional journey—about losing and finding, exploring familiar places and discovering unknown horizons. ($30, PB)
In the Land of Giants: Hunting Monsters in the Hindu Kush by Gabi Martinez ($35, PB)
High up in the Hindu Kush, between the ancient pagan Kalash people & the new medievalists of the Taliban, a charismatic young Spaniard, Jordi Magraner, made his home, mastering the local languages & customs before meeting his death there in the most mysterious way. A brilliant student of the natural world, whose lab was the ravine & the scarp & the tent, his observational investigations led him to those places where the legendary barmanu had been sighted, and he began to develop a thesis about the life of the wild man. His passion for pursuit & discovery took him onto ever more perilous terrain in the Pakistani-Afghan borderlands, entrusting his safety to an Afghan youth fleeing the Taliban, and to a wondrous working dog called Fjord. Gabi Martínez tracks Magraner on this enthralling journey of detection & adventure in the Himalayas—where the truth is never as clear and pristine as the majestic mountains and the fast-flowing streams.
The 50 Greatest Bike Rides of the World by Sarah Woods ($23, PB)
From freewheeling through tufted French vineyards and scaling the rocky, cloud-topped tracks in the Himalayas to rattling past whitewashed sugar-cube houses in narrow Spanish valleys, surviving the peaks of the Yorkshire Dales to tackling truly hair-rising descents in rural Cuba, the sheer variety of routes in this book will have you reaching for your bicycle clips, helmet & gloves. With something for every cycling enthusiast—scenic single tracks, switchback climbs and routes newly discovered.
The Silly Isles by Eric Campbell ($33, PB) No man is an island. But lots of strange men live on them. In the Kurils, off northern Japan, World War II is still being fought between Japan and Russia, both hell-bent on claiming this tiny island group as their territory. The Galapagos Islands may be home to some of the world’s most astonishing flora and fauna but it’s also home to Ecuador’s gerrymander ambitions and has the tear gas, riots and police barricades to prove it. Iceland, the world’s ‘purest’ genetic community, is a place where everyone is blonde, beautiful—and thoroughly in-bred as a result of zero immigration. With a wonderful eye for the absurd, Eric Campbell is the Bill Bryson of the small, odd forgotten places around the world and what they tell us about the human condition. Montmartre: Paris’s Village of Art and Sin by John Baxter ($23, PB)
In the second portrait of his series Great Parisian Neighbourhoods, raconteur John Baxter takes a whirlwind tour of Montmartre, the hilltop village that fired the greatest achievements of modern art while also provoking bloody revolution and the sexual misbehaviour that made Paris synonymous with sin. From the tumbledown workshops of the Bateau Lavoir in which Picasso and Braque created Cubism to Clichy’s Cabaret of Nothingness where guests dined at coffins under lamps of human bones, the whole of this mysterious enclave is yours to explore.
Robert Dessaix shows, in this thoughtful and witty book, how taking leisure seriously gives us back our freedom.
One of our most successful historical novelists transplants the tragedy of Othello to a playground in 1970s Washington D.C. : when a young black boy arrives at an all-white school.
No one turns up where they’re not wanted quite like John Safran. In this hilarious and disorienting adventure he gets among our diverse community of white nationalists, ISIS supporters, anarchists and more.
A novel in stories by the No.1 New York Times bestselling and Man Booker long-listed author of Olive Kitteridge and My Name is Lucy Barton.
Freakonomics for eating: a ground-breaking and tasty book by the world-leading expert in sensory science.
An enthralling, incredibly moving novel with a crime at its heart, based on the extraordinary life of the author’s own grandmother.
Read more at penguin.com.au
books for babies to young adults
Rock Pool Secrets by Narelle Oliver
Narelle Oliver was one of our best nature illustrators—a master of linocut and woodblock printing, and a creator of memorable and beautiful picture books. Her latest book Rock Pool Secrets has been published posthumously, and it is a triumph of illustration and design—beautifully produced on sturdy stock, with lots of interesting die-cut flaps to lift, and wonderfully rich colours to visually fall into. It’s highly informative in both text and image, and you are immersed in each page as you explore the rocks and the pools, and discover all their inhabitants, the crabs, the fish, the seaweed. This is an enchanting book, great to read aloud, with lots to discover with each reading, and I highly recommend it. ($24, HB) Louise
compiled by Lynndy Bennett, our children's correspondent Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken
Starting with a small ink blot, which is turned into an eye, and then another eye, Corinna Luyken takes the reader on a visual journey through The Book of Mistakes, as the images grow and transform with each page. Using the negative space, a very limited palette, and a satisfyingly circular story, she has created an entertaining, whimsical example of how mistakes are part of the artistic process. This is a highly original book. ($30, HB) Louise
Novelty Books for Savvy, Patient Readers
Find the Dots & See the Stripes by Andy Mansfield
Recommended for age 6+, these two books are ideal for encouraging lateral thinking and logic. Highly interactive, they’ve even baffled a few adults who anticipated straightforward intelligent play. In both books, each page invites you to find a particular dot or stripe by manipulating the featured cut-paper patterns, and this is where the ingenious design is revealed. Nothing is simple. Each puzzle relies on a different approach: the order in which you fold, twist or lift the tabs; the angle at which you hold the book, or your visual discernment. Andy Mansfield’s latest feats of paper engineering, in bold exhilarating colours, truly are ingenious! ($25, HB) Lynndy
Lands of Long Ago: Spot the Mistake by A J Wood & Mike Jolley (ill) Frances Castle
This book is full of mistakes. Deliberately so. Another offering from the splendidly impressive publisher WideEyed Editions, this is ideal for anachronism-spotters. Twenty objects wreak havoc with the historical authenticity in each of a variety of ancient civilisations: can you spot them? Hmm, that ancient Roman with a mobile phone must surely be one; likewise the guy from ancient China, in fluorescent-bright sneakers. Now it’s your turn. (Psst, the answers are in the back of the book!) Fun and informative. ($25, HB) Lynndy
Neurocomic by Hana Ros & (ill) Matteo Farinella
Welcome to your brain! It’s neuroscience for all in this entertaining comic-format adventure from two neuroscientists who demystify the extraordinary wonders of the human brain, ‘the most complex organic structure in the universe.’ The physical landscape and function of the brain are explored via a surreal voyage including neuron forests, guitar-playing sea slugs, expressive art and humour. Best of all, you needn’t be a scientist to understand it. From the stunning cover design incorporating axons and dendrites in decorative silver and gold, through the weird journey explaining what makes you ‘you’, this is utterly captivating! ($25, HB) Lynndy
Too Many Friends by Kathryn Apel
teenage & YA fiction
The Revelation of Louisa May by Michaela MacColl
One doesn’t have to be a fan of Louisa May Alcott to enjoy this book—but if not, you will probably want to read her books after this. Michaela MacColl’s books are fictionalised accounts of episodes in the lives of well-known people, in this case the teenaged Louisa May. With excellent research and a real sense of the time and place, these books will transport you. The Alcott family were well known in Concord, Mass. because of the extremely idealistic beliefs of their father Branson Alcott (he was part of the Transcendentalist movement, which meant he didn’t want his family to wear wool, and more reasonably silk and cotton as they were produced from the toil of slaves). Their cohort included the likes of Henry David Thoreau, and Emerson, and they were part of the Abolitionist Underground Railway. At the opening of the book, the Alcotts discover a runaway slave who they hide, but unfortunately a slave catcher is hot on his heels. There is enough truth in the book to keep it real, but plenty of romance and interaction within the family to keep it light—an excellent vehicle for learning history. The author’s note about the Louisa May Alcott and her family is really fascinating, and is sending me back to our classics shelves, to find the many Alcott books I haven’t yet read. ($31, HB) Louise
Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology (ed) Danielle Binks
As the publishers have been fiercely protective of the contents of this much-anticipated collection, all I know at the time of writing is this tantalising blurb: ‘The YA event of the year. Bestsellers. Award-winners. Superstars. This anthology has them all. With brilliantly entertaining short stories from beloved young adult authors Amie Kaufman, Melissa Keil, Will Kostakis, Ellie Marney, Jaclyn Moriarty, Michael Pryor, Alice Pung, Gabrielle Tozer, Lili Wilkinson and Danielle Binks, this all-new collection will show the world exactly how much there is to love about Aussie YA.’ Oh, and that I am definitely eager to read these original works. Roll on, May! ($25, PB) Lynndy
Tahnee is friends with everyone in her second grade class—no small achievement considering all the idiosyncrasies of twenty-two individuals. The arrival of a new classmate who is withdrawn and solitary highlights one difficulty of friendship when Tahnee is caught between maintaining existing relationships and including the new girl, despite resistance from her best friend. The party for Tahnee’s seventh birthday magnifies everyone’s foibles, and sparks Tahnee’s secret quest to balance out their disparate personalities by reinforcing class friendships and making everyone feel both important and appreciated. Just as in Apel’s previous books, this novel in free verse allows us to recognise various character types, and share hurt, loneliness and exclusion through the microcosm of Tahnee’s world. Inspired by Apel’s own experience as a teacher, Too Many Friends is realistic—a finely nuanced story that gently reminds us of the positive effects of openhearted kindness and compassion. A welcome addition to our Australian fiction, it is credible and uplifting with nary a trace of didacticism. ($14.95, PB) Lynndy
Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell
A new YA fantasy series bursting with tricks, traps, magic and a talking squirrel cat! What more could a voracious reader want? Great narrative: yes. Intriguing characters: definitely. Unanticipated plot: yes! As I neared the end of this book I found myself slowing down, reading other books, all as a way of procrastinating because I didn’t want to finish without the next volume on hand. ‘What would you give up for magic? When you’re an elite initiate approaching your sixteenth birthday, you’d better be ready to prove your worth as a mage. Either that or work some kind of miracle. But Kellen isn’t counting on either.’ His younger sister has surpassed him already and he knows he needs some tricks to avoid total disgrace and life as a common servant. ‘He just has to find the right tricks. So when Ferius Parfax, a sassy, straight-talking wanderer arrives in town, Kellen is drawn to her strength and worldliness. She is an unpredictable exile who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries’, not the magic that pervades Kellen’s life, yet the essential skills she shares with Kellen prove more valuable than magic when his family is betrayed and the kingdom threatened. Humorous, compelling fantasy with twists, action aplenty, and a witty presence that has me longing for the follow-up. ($20, PB) Lynndy
Food, Health & Garden
Notes on Blindness by John Hull ($23, PB)
When Chitra Ramaswamy discovered she was pregnant, she longed for a book that went above and beyond a manual. A book that did more than simply describe what was happening in her growing body day by day, week by week and month by month. A book that got to the heart of the bewildering, thrilling and strange experience that is pregnancy. Expecting takes the reader on an intimate physical and philosophical journey across the nine months of pregnancy and birth, paying tribute to writers, artists, places and individual histories along the way.
Days before the birth of his first son, writer and academic John M. Hull started to go blind. He would lose his sight entirely, plunged into darkness, unable to distinguish any sense of light or shadow. Isolated & claustrophobic, he sank into a deep depression. Soon, he had forgotten what his wife & daughter looked like. In Notes on Blindness, Hull reveals his profound sense of loss, his altered perceptions of time & space, of waking & sleeping, love & companionship. He describes the horror of being faceless, and asks what it truly means to be a husband & father. And eventually, he finds a new way of experiencing the world, of seeing the light despite the darkness.
If you’ve ever struggled to balance a desire for personal fulfilment with a yearning to be the best parent you can be, Helen Hayward’s journey will resonate with you. Part-memoir, part-existential musings, partguidebook, A Slow Childhood is based on the former academic and psychotherapist’s personal experience of transitioning from a life focused on career to a life focused on family. Hayward’s discussion of how to make parenting work best for mothers, fathers and their children is thoughtful, honest, refreshing and challenging. ‘A Slow Childhood is a triumph. I was very moved, often to tears, by it’.—Alain de Botton
At its heart, Dalmatian cuisine is frugal, honest and rustic, with distinctive flavours, including silver beet, varenik (grape molasses) & prošek (Dalmatian fortified wine) that give it an identity all of its own. Some dishes include the famous Dubrovnick crème caramel, Roata, Brujet (Dalmatian fish stew) & pašticada, a slow-cooked beef cheek with prunes, apples & potato dumplings. With chapters covering vegetables & salads, meat dishes, seafood & sweets, Ino Kuvacic offers over 100 authentic Croatian dishes
Expecting: The Inner Life of Pregnancy by Chitra Ramaswamy ($20, PB)
A Slow Childhood: Notes on Thoughtful Parenting by Helen Hayward ($32, PB)
The Mystery of Sleep : Why a Good Night’s Rest is Vital to a Better, Healthier Life by Meir H. Kryger
Poor sleep could be a sign of a disease, the result of a vitamin or iron deficiency, or the cause of numerous other problems, both sleeping and waking. Yet many people, even medical personnel, are unaware of the dangers of poor sleep. Offering a comprehensive guide to the mysteries of slumber that combines detailed case studies, helpful tables, illustrations, and pragmatic advice, Kryger’s comprehensive text is a muchneeded resource for insomniacs; for those who snore, can’t stay awake, or experience disturbing dreams; and for the simply curious. ($45, HB)
Food for a Happy Gut by Naomi Devlin ($50, HB) Giulia Enders’ GUT and the work of Tim Spector among others has helped us realise how vital gut health is to our body, brain and mental health. Naomi Devlin will help you turn your gut into a hub of microbial diversity with seafood, broths & probiotics to soothe your digestion, beneficial foods full of fibre, pre- and probiotics to nourish your gut, and finally herbs, pickles and teas full of healing properties to stimulate & regulate digestion when you need a little extra help.
Essential Winetasting by Michael Schuster ($35, PB) This book offers a particularly clear and precise means of teaching yourself how to taste and how to get more out of your wine, whatever your level. In this new edition the whole volume (in particular the central section on Grapes and Their Wines and The Tastings) has been substantially rewritten and updated, and there are numerous new illustrations; the maps have been completely revised and they all have up-to-date statistics for the 2014 vintage. At the more advanced tasting level there is a completely new and detailed Quality Calibration Tasting on perceiving & recognizing quality, and a comprehensive section on Blind Tasting in all its forms. Additional new material covers Organic, Biodynamic & Natural Wines; Alcohol; Wine Gadgets; and Wine at Home & On the Table.
Gastrophysics by Charles Spence ($33, PB) Why do we consume 35% more food when eating with one more person, and 75% more when with 3? Why are 27% of drinks bought on aeroplanes tomato juice? How are chefs & companies planning to transform our dining experiences, and what can we learn from their cutting-edge insights to make memorable meals at home? Charles Spence shows how our senses link up in the most extraordinary ways, and reveals the importance of all the ‘off-the-plate’ elements of a meal: the weight of cutlery, the placing on the plate, the background music & much more. Whether dining alone or at a dinner party, on a plane or in front of the TV, he reveals how to understand what we’re tasting & influence what others experience. Mealtimes will genuinely never be the same again.
The Plant Messiah by Carlos Magdalena ($35, HB) From the world’s tiniest waterlily to the ‘Coral Tree’, Carlos Magdalena has an uncanny ability to bring rare, breathtakingly beautiful plants back from the brink of extinction. As a botanical horticulturist at London’s famous Kew Gardens—the most biodiverse place on the planet—he has over 7,000 species under his care in his ‘Noah’s Ark’ plant nursery. He is famous for his pioneering work with waterlilies, battling to save rare specimens against ecological destruction & thieves hunting them for wealthy collectors. Magdalena travels to remote & dangerous locations—from the jungles of Mauritius to the most remote areas of the Australian outback—and develops ground-breaking, left-field techniques to encourage plants to propagate. Here are his stories of these incredible plants and a lifetime spent racing to save them. New in Reaktion Global Food History Series $25 each Seaweed by Kaori O’Connor; Pomegranate by Damien Stone
Dalmatia: Recipes from Croatia’s Mediterranean Coast by Ino Kuvacic ($50, HB)
Ferment For Good: Ancient Foods for the Modern Gut by Sharon Flynn ($40, HB)
This is a guide to discovering the joys of fermentation in its myriad variations—framed through the eyes of Sharon Flynn, a one-time English teacher who has hooked early in her 20s & has since made it her life’s work to learn & share all there is to know about this most ancient of practices. Alongside a how-to guide to the basics (why do it; what you need; and what you’ll get), the book offers sections on wild fermented vegetables (including sauerkraut, kimchi & brine ferments); drinks (water kefir, kombucha, Jun tea, pineapple wine, mead);milk & dairy (including yoghurt & milk kefir), condiments & breads(such as mustard, spreads, dosa & injera); and Japanese ferments (including miso & tamari, soy sauce, sake kasu & pickled ginger).
The 7:2:1 Plan by Tim Robards ($35, PB)
The 7:2:1 Plan is not about counting calories or avoiding food groups. It is a beautifully simple formula of eating 70% super-clean (lots of veggies and good-quality protein and fats), 20% sensible (some carbs from grains) and 10% relaxed (whatever you like) for a nutritionally balanced lifestyle. Tim provides a clear description of the 7:2:1 categories, ideas for portion control, tips on shopping and storage and 100 delicious recipes following the 7:2:1 protocol. Chiropractor, Robards, also includes an expertly tailored step-by-step exercise guide to get you moving in the right way.
Gleebooks’ special price $29.95
Saffron Soul: Healthy Heritage Recipes from the Indian Subcontinent by Mira Manek
Indian food is an internationally popular cuisine, yet, unfairly, it is often considered to be heavy, rich and indulgent. Mira Manek’s style of food is a modern interpretation of the Indian classics, creating utterly delicious & naturally healthy dishes. As well as offering the best & most naturally healthy Gujarati recipes, Manek also recreates some perennial favourites, replacing traditionally used grains & sugar with more nutritious ingredients such as millet, chia & jaggery, and cutting down on oils & fats, to make her dishes healthier. ($40, HB)
Mix & Bake by Belinda Jeffery ($40, PB)
Belinda Jeffery shares 120 of her favourite recipes for cakes, scones, muffins, biscuits, slices, quick breads, pies and tarts, in the hope that they will become your favourites too. The sweet-toothed will be unable to resist macadamia and chocolate chip brownies, a gooey butterscotch peach cake or a mocha cake with shards of coffee bean brittle. Make a simple meal out of dill, ricotta and parmesan muffins by adding a big bowl of salad, or rustle up some pumpernickel and polenta soda bread to serve with soup on a chilly afternoon.
The Reducetarian Solution by Brian Kateman
In this book, Brian Kateman presents more than 70 original essays from influential thinkers on how the simple act of cutting 10% or more of the meat from one’s diet can transform the life of the reader, animals & the planet. With contributions from Seth Godin, Kathy Freston, Joel Fuhrman, Jeffrey Sachs, Bill McKibben, Naomi Oreskes & Peter Singer, with over 40 vegan, vegetarian, and ‘less meat’ recipes from Pat Crocker, as well as tons of practical tips for reducing the meat in your diet The Reducetarian Solution is a life—not to mention planet!—saving book. ($28, PB)
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The Good Girl Stripped Bare in conv. with Jenna Price From bogan to boned and beyond— this is a full-frontal ‘femoir’—part memoir, part manifesto—in which Tracey Spicer ‘sheconstructs’ the structural barriers facing women in the workplace and encourages us all to shake off the shackles of the good girl.
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Event—6 for 6.30 Paul Irish
Hidden In Plain View in conv with Grace Karskens Contrary to what you may think, local Aboriginal people did not lose their culture and die out within decades of Governor Phillip’s arrival in Sydney in 1788. Irish tells this story through individuals, and brings a poorly understood period of Sydney’s shared history back into view.
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Events are held upstairs at #49 Glebe Point Road unless otherwise noted. Bookings—Phone: (02) 9660 2333, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Online: www.gleebooks.com.au/events
—6 for 6.30 Duffy & Hordern
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—6 for 6.30 Carland
Event—6 for 6.30 Catherine Fox
Stop Fixing Women in conv. with Margot Saville This searing book argues that insisting that women fix themselves won’t fix the system, the system built by men. Catherine Fox throws down the gauntlet, showing how business, defence, public service and community leaders might make a difference, rather than just talk about it.
Launch—6 for 6.30 Eric Campbell
Silly Isles In the Kurils, off northern Japan, World War II is still being fought between Japan & Russia, & in Iceland everyone is blonde, beautiful—and thoroughly in-bred—author of Absurdistan, a hilarious tour through small but very strange places.
12 Launch—6 for 6.30 Rico Craig
Talk—3.30 for 4 Dr Zdenko Zlatar
The Poetics of Exile: Kazantzakis and El Greco The Sydney Branch of the Internatioanl Society of the Friends of Nikos Kazantzakis Presents a lecture commemorating Sixty years of Kazantzakis’ death (1957-2017) by Zdenko Zlatar, Vice President of the Sydney Branch, Honorary Reader in History, The University of Sydney.
Bone Ink Launcher: Dr Catherine Keenan These vivid poems meld wild energy with meticulous crafting. They trace the tactile, the remembered and the sensuous, tracking young lives as they unfold under a ‘deadpan sky’. This is an exceptionally assured and original debut.—Felicity Plunkett
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In Early June Sat 3rd—Launch: Deborah Rose Bird, Thom van Dooren, Matthew Chrulew Extinction Studies: Stories of Time, Death and Generations Thur 8th—Event: Chloe Shorten Take Heart: A Story for Modern Step Families
Granny’s Good Reads with Sonia Lee
Trust me, if you only read one book in 2017, make sure that it’s Lab Girl: a Story of Trees, Science and Love by Hope Jahren ($23). She’s a professor of geobiology at the University of Hawaii, and has written a memoir interspersed with exquisite small essays on things she loves—especially leaves, seeds and trees. Jahren grew up in a Norwegian household in rural Minnesota. Her father, a science teacher in a community college, taught her the way round a laboratory from an early age, while her mother gave her the love of literature which helped develop her clear prose style. She has boundless energy and doesn’t need much sleep, so financed her way through college by doing the night shift in a hospital pharmacy. On a field trip in California she met Bill Hagopian, and the two became scientific collaborators at first sight. Bill is now her lab manager and has followed her to all her labs—at first with not enough money, sleeping in his car and scrounging equipment. In the USA, as here, ‘blue sky’ aka ‘interest only’ science, since it doesn’t immediately come up with pills or other goodies with ready commercial payoffs, doesn’t attract too many grants. Jahren’s research, however, is all about things like fossilised plants, ancient ecosystems and the conditions in which trees do best and are likely to survive in the future. With the arrival of global warming her work has been shown to have a direct relevance to plant survival, and she has won three Fulbright scholarships and many other prizes. Happily married to spouse Clint and with a young son, she has overcome not only manic depression, but also an entrenched prejudice against women working in her field of science. Her work ethic is admirable and her love of science infectious. Early in her career she worked out that hackberry pits are made of opal (hydrated silica) and woke Bill in the middle of the night to share this eureka moment. I liked her description of the gigantic monkeypod tree which grows where Manoa Road crosses Oahu Road in Honolulu. Wild orchids sit in this famous tree’s branches, it is always in bloom and parrots chatter in its eight-thousand-squarefoot canopy, while pink and yellow flowers rain on tourists who stop to take its picture. The nicest memory I take from this book is of her trip with Bill to Axel Heiburg Island in the Nunavut territory of Canada. They had followed a hare to a high-up point, and here Bill disclosed that he had always been teased and bullied at school, and had never had a date or gone to a prom. Jahren replied that now was the time, in the long and endless daylight, for him to dance. Much to her surprise he started to stomp and twirl while she looked on. ‘Today’, she told him, ‘was the day for watching a great man dance in the snow.’ Frank Bongiorno has given us a very good read with The Eighties: The Decade That Transformed Australia ($30). Many of us now think of the Eighties as a golden age, but for some who lived through those years they weren’t all that bright. This decade saw the rise of economic rationalism, with many prospering but also with many losing their jobs and never working again. Women started flexing their muscles and nurses agitated for a living wage. Hospitals were to find that they could no longer rely on cheap labour. It seems generally acknowledged that what we had then in Australia was sensible political leadership, a commodity now sadly lacking, with the kids taking over the nursery in so many countries, not excluding our own. The decade may well have been notable for greed and excess, but what was distinctive and laudable about the Hawke-Keating approach was that it sought to combine a shift towards the market with a commitment to social spending on the disadvantaged, a basic level of government support for all, and a continuing role for trade unionism. This, to a large extent, was what set Australia apart from the UK and the USA at the time. Bongiorno takes us on an exhilarating dash through much of the decade, beginning his tour with the terrible Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 just before Bob Hawke became our PM, then on to the Accord, Native land rights, the ‘Joh for PM’ movement, a new type of concern for the environment, and lastly, the follies of the many entrepreneurs taking a punt on the prosperity wave. The reader might well begin with the many memorable illustrations and take it from there. Who could forget the Russell Goward saga, the titillating details of which dripped ever so slowly onto the business pages, or the rise, Icarus-like, of Alan Bond in his America’s Cup days, or the Gygean banquets of the Skases? All in all, a bitter time for the losers, a great time for journalists, and a tumultuous decade—full of incident and larger-than-life characters. Thank you, Frank Bongiorno. Sonia
Mabo: A Symbol of Struggle by Sean Flood
Sean Flood sees Mabo as the beginning, not the end, of a long struggle for Indigenous recognition & equality. He locates Australia’s treatment of its Indigenous peoples within the international context of colonialism & race relations, drawing on a number of recent case studies, and considers the ongoing impact of colonialism on Australia’s natural environment. With sections specifically designed for students & teachers, his book offers a comprehensive account of the ongoing Indigenous struggle and provides a strong argument for a more inclusive Australian society. This revised edition features updated analysis of Commonwealth v Mabo [No 2] & the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), along with an examination of native title in the courts since Mabo. ($20, PB)
Sydney Noir: The Golden Years by Michael Duffy & Nick Hordern ($35, PB)
In the late 1960s Sydney was one of the most prosperous places on earth, and one of the most corrupt. A large proportion of the population was engaged in illegal gambling & other activities that made colourful characters such as Lennie McPherson, Abe Saffron & George Freeman wealthy and, to many, folk heroes. Thousands of American soldiers on their 7 day leave from Vietnam turned Kings Cross, with its strip shows & night clubs, into one big party. The whole corrupt carnival was run by the police in an arrangement known as ‘the joke’. They could just about get away with that term because heroin had not yet turned the underworld into the killing machine it would soon become. In Sydney Noir Duffy & Hordern revisit this dark yet fascinating chapter of Sydney’s history, telling stories that would be unbelievable were they not true. They also make the bold argument that premier of the time, Sir Robert Askin, may not have been as guilty of corruption as many have claimed.
Culture Heist: Art Versus Money by Judith White A much-loved cultural institution facing a cost-cutting government, a board dominated by the big end of town, and a management fixated on an ambitious building project. It’s a true story. Culture Heist lifts the veil on what goes on at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Judith White worked there for 12 years and gives an insider’s account, with implications for art lovers and museum-goers everywhere. Culture Heist invites the broadest discussion to address the issues facing the arts in Australia and explore ways to protect its great public institutions. ($29.95, PB)
Shack Life: The Survival Story of Three Royal National Park Communities by Ingeborg van Teeseling ($60, PB)
During the Depression, starving miners & their families made their way ‘down the hill’ to a place by the sea where they could live on fish, rabbits & home-grown vegetables. Hundreds of shacks, only able to be reached on foot, sprung up, and are still standing today. Since the 1960s governments have tried to have the shacks pulled down but the communities, with the help of their Protection League, fought back each time & won. In frank interviews with ‘shackies’ and stunning photographs this book tells the story of three small beachside communities in the Royal National Park south of Sydney—Era, Burning Palms & Little Garie—and how their residents fought to save their beloved shacks.
Griffith Review 56: Millennials Strike Back (ed) Julianne Schultz ($28, PB)
Millennials have had bad press for a long time. Now they are fighting back, making their mark on a world that is profoundly different from the one their parents knew. The oldest were in primary school when the Soviet Union collapsed & deregulation swept the west. As they entered adulthood they witnessed 9/11 & the invasion of Iraq and, more recently, watched as Chinese capitalism revived consumerism, the global financial crisis pushed capitalism to the brink, and Facebook was born. This is the best educated, most connected generation ever, but the world they live in does not offer easy pathways. Some millennials are detached & disillusioned, but others are coming up with innovative ideas, experimenting with new ways to live & work. Their vision & energy will shape the future. Griffith Review 56 is devoted to the challenges & opportunities this generation is facing & embracing—political uncertainty, climate change, globalisation & economic stagnation.
Hidden in Plain View: The Aboriginal people of coastal Sydney by Paul Irish ($35, PB)
Local Aboriginal people did not lose their culture & die out within decades of Governor Phillip’s arrival in Sydney in 1788. They are prominent in accounts of early colonial Sydney, yet we seem to skip a century as they disappear from the historical record, reemerging early in the 20th century. What happened to Sydney’s indigenous people between the devastating impact of white settlement and increased government intervention a century later? Hidden in Plain View shows that Aboriginal people did not disappear. They may have been ignored in colonial narratives but maintained a strong bond with the coast and its resources and tried to live on their own terms. This book brings a poorly understood period of Sydney’s shared history back into view.
Us Women, Our Ways, Our World (eds) Pat Dudgeon, Jeannie Herbert, Jill Milroy, Darlene Oxenham ($35, PB)
This is a collection of writings on women & Aboriginal identity from 14 senior Indigenous academics & community leaders. The collection engages with questions such as: What makes Aboriginal women strong? Why are grandmothers so important (even ones never met)? How is the connection to country different for Aboriginal people compared to non-Aboriginal people’s love of nature or sense of belonging to an area? What is Aboriginal spirituality? Generous & inclusive these writings are hopeful for the future, with an emphasis on acknowledging, joining with, collaborating and caring.
Rebel Cities: Paris, London and New York in the Age of Revolution by Mike Rapport ($33, PB)
London, Paris & NY in the 18th century were places where political authority, commerce & money, art & intellectual life intersected. They were also home to dangerous criminals, corrupt politicians & slaves. Against a backdrop of accelerating urban expansion & revolution in both Europe & North America, writers, artists, moralists, magistrates, reformers & revolutionaries expended ink, paint, breath and, sometimes, blood in their struggle to understand, control & master the city. Determining the character of the cities through their burghers, as well as their architecture, topography and the events that shaped them, Rapport evokes what it was like for all parts of society to live in London, Paris & NY in one of the most transformative periods in the history of civilisation.
The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West by Peter Cozzens
In a sweeping narrative, Peter Cozzens tells the story of the wars & negotiations that destroyed native ways of life as the American nation continued its expansion onto traditional tribal lands after the civil war. He illuminates the encroachment experienced by the tribes & the tribal conflicts over whether to fight or make peace, and explores the squalid lives of soldiers posted to the frontier& the ethical quandaries faced by generals who often sympathized with their native enemies. From Kansas & Nebraska to the Southwestern desert to the Dakotas & the Pacific Northwest, with a cast of fascinating characters, including Custer, Sherman, Grant, and a host of other military and political figures, as well as great native leaders such as Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Geronimo and Red Cloud—Cozzens brings them all together in the fullest account to date of how the West was won—and lost. ($50, HB)
The War in the West: A New History V 2: The Allies Fight Back 1941-43 by James Holland
In the second volume of his acclaimed new history of the Second World War, James Holland examines the momentous turning points of 1941–1943: Hitler’s invasion of Russia; America’s entry into the conflict; the devastating Thousand Bomber Raids over Germany; the long struggle in the deserts of North Africa; and the defeat of the U-boats in the crucial Battle of the Atlantic. ($35, PB)
The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao by Ian Johnson ($55, HB)
In no society on Earth was there such a ferocious attempt to eradicate all trace of religion as in modern China. But now, following a century of violent antireligious campaigns, China is awash with new temples, churches, & mosques—as well as cults, sects & politicians trying to harness religion for their own ends. Driving this explosion of faith is uncertainty—over what it means to be Chinese, and how to live an ethical life in a country that discarded traditional morality and is still searching for new guideposts. Ian Johnson has spent 15 years studying & travelling around China, and says that China is now experiencing a ‘Great Awakening’ on a vast scale. Everywhere longsuppressed religions are rebuilding, often in new forms, and reshaping the values & behaviours of entire communities. He explains the wonders of the lunar calendar, talks to the yinyang man who ensures proper burials, visits meditation masters and the charismatic head of a Chengdu church. The result is a rich and funny work that challenges conventional wisdom about China, and asks, at what point will the rapid spread of belief form an unmanageable challenge to the Party’s monopoly on power?
A Wary Embrace: What the China-Russia relationship means for the world by Bobo Lo ($10, PB) With Western countries consumed by domestic problems, will it be China and Russia that now define the rules of global politics? In a disorderly world, each has become increasingly assertive, and their partnership has emerged from relative obscurity to acquire a new prominence. Yet appearances are deceptive. Beijing & Moscow have shown no capacity to cooperate on grand strategy or establish new international norms. This is no authoritarian alliance, but a partnership of strategic convenience—pragmatic, calculating & constrained. Bobo Lo is an independent analyst and former Head of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House.
Adults in the Room: My Battle With Europe’s Deep Establishment by Yanis Varoufakis ($35, PB)
Yanis Varoufakis sparked one of the most spectacular and controversial battles in recent political history when, as finance minister of Greece, he attempted to re-negotiate his country’s relationship with the EU. Despite the mass support of the Greek people and the simple logic of his arguments, he succeeded only in provoking the fury of Europe’s political, financial and media elite. But the true story of what happened is almost entirely unknown—not least because so much of the EU’s real business takes place behind closed doors. In this fearless account, Varoufakis reveals all: an extraordinary tale of brinkmanship, hypocrisy, collusion and betrayal that will shake the deep establishment to its foundations. As is now clear, the same policies that required the tragic and brutal suppression of Greece’s democratic uprising have led directly to authoritarianism, populist revolt and instability throughout the Western world.
London’s Triumph: Merchant Adventurers and the Tudor City by Stephen Alford ($55, HB)
Life in Europe was fundamentally changed in the 16th century by the astonishing discoveries of the New World and of direct sea routes to Asia. In a sudden explosion of energy English ships were suddenly found all over the world—trading with Russia & the Levant, exploring Virginia & the Arctic, and fanning out across the Indian Ocean. London’s Triumph is above all about the people who made this possible—the families, the guild members, the money-men who were willing to risk huge sums & sometimes their own lives in pursuit of the rare, exotic & desirable. Their ambitions fuelled a new view of the world—initiating a long era of trade and empire, the consequences of which we still live with today. Stephen Alford’s fascinating new book brings to life the network of merchants, visionaries, crooks & sailors who changed London forever.
A Secret Well Kept: The Untold Story of Sir Vernon Kell, Founder of MI5 by Constance Kell
The UK’s domestic counter-intelligence & security agency, most commonly known as MI5, was founded in 1909 by Sir Vernon Kell KBE. ‘K’ was also its Director for 31 years, the longest tenure of any head of a British government department during the 20th century. He was fluent in 6 languages, making him arguably the most gifted linguist ever to head a Western intelligence agency. A Secret Well Kept was written by Kell’s wife, Constance, in the 1950s, and the manuscript has been a treasured family possession ever since. She tells of their life in China during the Boxer Rebellion, the formation of MI5 in 1909, the key characters, events and spy cases of Kell’s career, and his important work achieved for the country during two world wars. ($30, HB)
Now in B Format How Did We Get into This Mess? Politics, Equality, Nature by George Monbiot, $20 Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany by Norman Ohler, $23 Radicals by Jamie Bartlett ($35, PB) Jamie Bartlett journeys inside the strange & exciting worlds of the innovators, disruptors, idealists & extremists who think society is broken, and believe they know how to fix it. From dawn raids into open mines to the darkest recesses of the internet, Radicals introduces some of the most secretive & influential movements today: techno-futurists questing for immortality, farright groups seeking to close borders, militant environmentalists striving to save the planet’s natural reserves by any means possible, libertarian movements founding new countries, autonomous cooperatives in self-sustaining micro-societies, and psychedelic pioneers attempting to heal society with the help of powerful hallucinogens. Bartlett suggests radicals are not only the symptoms of a deep unrest within the world today, but might also offer the most plausible models for our future. Boys in Zinc by Svetlana Alexievich ($25, PB) From 1979 to 1989 Soviet troops engaged in a devastating war in Afghanistan that claimed thousands of casualties on both sides. While the Soviet Union talked about a ‘peace-keeping’ mission, the dead were shipped back in sealed zinc coffins. Boys in Zinc presents the honest testimonies of soldiers, doctors and nurses, mothers, wives and siblings who describe the lasting effects of war. Weaving together their stories, Svetlana Alexievich shows us the truth of the Soviet-Afghan conflict: the killing and the beauty of small everyday moments, the shame of returned veterans, the worries of all those left behind. This is a new translation based on the updated and expanded text.
Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist by Paul Kingsnorth ($33, PB)
Paul Kingsnorth was once an activist, an ardent environmentalist. He fought against rampant development and the depredations of a corporate world that seemed hell-bent on ignoring a looming climate crisis in its relentless pursuit of profit. But as the environmental movement began to focus on ‘sustainability’ rather than the defence of wild places for their own sake and as global conditions worsened, he grew disenchanted with the movement that he once embraced. He gave up what he saw as the false hope that residents of the First World would ever make the kind of sacrifices that might avert the severe consequences of climate change. Full of grief and fury as well as passionate, lyrical evocations of nature and the wild, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist gathers the wave-making essays that have charted the change in Kingsnorth’s thinking. In them he articulates a new vision that he calls ‘dark ecology,’ which stands firmly in opposition to the belief that technology can save us, and he argues for a renewed balance between the human and nonhuman worlds.
Science & Nature
Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins by Garry Kasparov ($33, PB)
In May 1997, the world watched as Garry Kasparov, the greatest chess player in the world, was defeated for the first time by the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue. It was a watershed moment in the history of technology: machine intelligence had arrived at the point where it could best human intellect. Kasparov subsequently devoted much energy to devising ways in which humans can partner with machines in order to produce results better than either can achieve alone. In this book he tells his side of the story of Deep Blue—what it was like to strategise against an implacable, untiring opponent, the mistakes he made and the reasons the odds were against him. But more than that, he tells his story of AI more generally, and how he’s evolved to embrace it, taking part in an urgent debate with philosophers worried about human values, programmers creating self-learning neural networks, and engineers of cutting edge robotics.
The Australian Bird Guide (eds) Peter Menkhorst et al ($49.95, PB)
With specially commissioned paintings of over 900 species, this guide is the most comprehensive field guide to Australian birds ever seen. It features close to 250 colour plates, with particular emphasis on providing the fine detail required to identify difficult groups & distinctive plumages. Comprehensive species accounts have been written by a dedicated team of ornithologists to ensure identification details, distribution and status are current and accurate. An indispensable reference for all birders and naturalists looking to explore Australia’s magnificent and unique bird life.
Gleebooks’ special price $39.95
Scale: The Universal Laws of Life & Death in Organisms, Cities & Companies by Geoffrey West
Why can we live for 120 years but not for a thousand? Why does the pace of life continually increase? Why do mice live for just two or three years and elephants for up to 75? Why do companies behave like mice, and are they all destined to die? Do cities, companies and human beings have natural, predetermined life spans? Why, in fact, do we die? Are we just a fascinating experiment in natural selection that is ultimately doomed to fail? And what is the origin of the magic number 4 that seems to determine much of physiology and life-history from birth to death? Geoffrey West’s research centres on a quest to find unifying principles and patterns connecting everything from cells and ecosystems to cities, social networks and businesses. ($33, PB)
15 Million Degrees by Lucie Green ($25, PB) Light takes 8 minutes to reach Earth from the surface of the Sun. But its journey within the Sun takes hundreds of thousands of years. What is going on in there? What are light & heat? How does the Sun produce them & how on earth did scientists discover this? This book takes you millions of miles from inside the Sun to its surface & to Earth, where the light at the end of its journey is allowing you to read right now. You’ll discover how the Sun works (including what it sounds like), the latest research in solar physics & how a solar storm could threaten everything we know. And you’ll meet the ground breaking scientists, including the author, who pieced this extraordinary story together. Defiant Earth: The Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene by Clive Hamilton ($30, PB)
Humans have disrupted the functioning of the Earth, bringing on a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. The stable environmental conditions that allowed civilisation to flourish are disappearing. What does it mean to have arrived at this point, where human history & Earth history collide? Clive Hamilton argues we need to rethink everything. The modern belief that we are free beings making our own future by taking control of our environment is now indefensible. We have rendered the Earth more unpredictable & less controllable; a disobedient planet. And it’s too late to turn back the geological clock.
The Reality Frame: Relativity & Our Place in the Universe by Brian Clegg ($40, HB)
From religion to philosophy, humanity has traditionally sought out absolutes to explain the world around us, but as science has developed, relativity has swept away many of these certainties, leaving only a handful of unchangeable essentials - such as absolute zero, nothingness, light - leading to better science and a new understanding of the essence of being human. Brian Clegg builds up reality piece by piece, from space, to time, to matter, movement, the fundamental forces, life, and the massive transformation that life itself has wrought on the natural world—revealing that underlying it all is not, as we might believe, a system of immovable absolutes, but the ever-shifting, amorphous world of relativity..
Philosophy & Religon
Heretics! The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy by Steven & Ben Nadler
This graphic narrative tells the exciting story of the 17th century thinkers who challenged authority—sometimes risking excommunication, prison, and even death—to lay the foundations of modern philosophy & science & help usher in a new world. These contentious & controversial philosophers—from Galileo and Descartes to Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz & Newton overturned everything from the idea that the Earth is the centre of the cosmos to the notion that kings have a divine right to rule. Heretics recounts key moments in the history of modern philosophy, including the burning of Giordano Bruno for heresy, Galileo’s house arrest for defending Copernicanism, Descartes’s proclaiming cogito ergo sum, Hobbes’s vision of the ‘nasty and brutish’ state of nature, and Spinoza’s shocking Theological-Political Treatise. ($50, PB)
The Aftermath of War by Jean-Paul Sartre ($50, PB) This volume brings together essays written in Jean-Paul Sartre’s most creative period, just after WWII. His extraordinary range of engagement is manifest, with writings on post-war America, the social impact of war in Europe, contemporary philosophy, race, and avant garde art. Structured into sections, the essays range across Sartre’s reflections on collaboration, resistance & liberation in post-war Europe, his thoughts & observations after his extended trip to the USA in 1945, an examination of the failings of philosophical materialism, his analysis of the new revolutionary poetry of ‘negritude’, and his meditations on the visual arts, with essays on the work of Giacometti & Calder, both of whom Sartre knew well. Also in this Sartre series, all translated by Chris Turner: Critical Essays 1938–1946 ($59, PB) & Portraits ($65, PB) Foucault’s Futures: A Critique of Reproductive Reason by Penelope Deutscher ($57, PB)
Penelope Deutscher reconsiders the role of procreation in Foucault’s thought, especially its proximity to risk, mortality & death. She brings together his work on sexuality & biopolitics to challenge our understanding of the politicisation of reproduction. By analysing Foucault’s contribution to the politics of maternity & its influence on the work of thinkers such as Roberto Esposito, Giorgio Agamben & Judith Butler, Deutscher provides new insights into the conflicted political status of reproductive conduct & what it means for feminism & critical theory.
There’s No Such Thing as a Sexual Relationship: Two Lessons on Lacan by Alain Badiou & Barbara Cassin ($36, PB)
Published in 1973, L’Etourdit was one of the French philosopher Jacques Lacan’s most important works. The book posed questions that traversed the entire body of Lacan’s psychoanalytical explorations, including his famous idea that ‘there is no such thing as a sexual relationship’, which seeks to undermine our certainties about intimacy & reality. Alain Badiou & Barbara Cassin take possession of Lacan’s short text, thinking ‘with’ Lacan about his propositions & what kinds of questions they raise in relation to knowledge. Cassin considers the relationship of the real to language through a Sophist lens, while the Platonist Badiou unpacks philosophical claims about truth. Each of their contributions echoes back to one another, offering new ways of thinking about Lacan, his seminal ideas, and his role in advancing philosophical thought.
Night Music: Essays on Music 1928–1962 by Theodor Adorno ($60, PB)
Theodor W. Adorno began his career as a composer & successful music critic. Night Music presents the first complete English translations of two collections of texts—Moments musicaux, containing essays written between 1928 and 1962, and Theory of New Music, a group of texts written between 1929 and 1955. In Moments musicaux, Adorno echoes Schubert’s eponymous cycle, with its emphasis on aphorism, and offers lyrical reflections on music of the past and his own time. Theory of New Music, as its title indicates, presents Adorno’s thoughts and theories on the composition, reception, and analysis of the music that was being written around him. His extensive philosophical writing ultimately prevented him from pursuing the compositional career he had once envisaged, but his view of the modern music of the time is not simply that of a theorist, but clearly also that of a composer.
The Courage of Hopelessness by Slavoj Žižek
Slavoj Žižek argues that it is only when we have admitted to ourselves that our situation is completely hopeless—that the light at the end of the tunnel is in fact the headlight of a train approaching us from the opposite direction—that fundamental change can be brought about. Surveying the various challenges in the world today, from mass migration & geopolitical tensions to terrorism, the explosion of rightist populism & the emergence of new radical politics—all of which, in their own way, express the impasses of global capitalism—Žižek explores whether there still remains the possibility for genuine change. Can we, he asks, move beyond the failure of socialism, and beyond the current wave of populist rage, and initiate radical change before the train hits? ($35, PB)
Psychology Felt Time: The Science of How We Experience Time by Marc Wittmann ($33, PB)
Marc Wittmann explores the riddle of subjective time, explaining our perception of time—whether moment by moment, or in terms of life as a whole. Drawing on the latest insights from psychology and neuroscience, he explains, among other things, how we choose between savouring the moment & deferring gratification; why impulsive people are bored easily, and why their boredom is often a matter of time; whether each person possesses a personal speed, a particular brain rhythm distinguishing quick people from slow people; and why the feeling of duration can serve as an ‘error signal’, letting us know when it is taking too long for dinner to be ready or for the bus to come. He considers the practice of mindfulness, and whether it can reduce the speed of life & help us gain more time, and he describes how, as we grow older, subjective time accelerates as routine increases; a fulfilled & varied life is a long life. Wittmann points to recent research that connects time to consciousness, suggesting that ongoing studies of time consciousness will help us to understand the conscious self.
The Cyber Effect by Mary Aiken ($23, PB)
Dr Mary Aiken is a leading expert in forensic cyberpsychology—a discipline that combines psychology, criminology and technology to investigate the intersection between technology and human behaviour. Covering everything from the impact of screens on the developing child to the explosion of teen sexting, and the acceleration of compulsive and addictive online behaviours (gaming, shopping, pornography), she also examines the escalation in cyberchondria (self-diagnosis online), cyberstalking & organized crime in the Deep Web. Cyberspace is an environment full of surveillance, but who is looking out for us? Full of surprising statistics & incredible-but-true case studies of the hidden trends that are shaping our culture, this book raises troubling questions about where the digital revolution is taking us.
‘Duffy and Hordern give the city the kicking it’s been asking for, and the city gives up all the secrets and the bodies …’ – John Birmingham
Psyche on the Skin: A History of Self-Harm by Sarah Chaney ($50, HB)
Psyche on the Skin charts the secret history of self-harm from the 1860s to the present day. The book describes its many forms; from sexual self-mutilation & hysterical malingering in the late Victorian period, to self-marking religious sects, to self-mutilation & self-destruction in art, music & popular culture. Drawing on her personal experiences, Sarah Chaney challenges the misconceptions & controversies surrounding selfharm. The book is crucial reading for professionals in the field as well as all those affected by this emotive, challenging act.
Conflict is not Abuse by Sarah Schulman ($28, PB) This book looks at the cultural phenomenon of blame, cruelty & scapegoating as a power tactic in a range of relationships, from the most intimate (partners, friends) to the broadest (cultural groups, nations). It discusses how those in power positions exacerbate & manipulate fear of the ‘other’ to achieve their aims. Schulman also looks at her subject through the lens of technology, and how social media & email have made our interactions with one another more impersonal & thus more subject to misunderstanding and abuse. (It’s so easy to ‘shun’ or block an intimate on Facebook who is thought to have made a transgression, rather than discussing the subject openly—part of the new mob mentality to scapegoat.) At heart this book about how we as a culture need to treat each other—partners, family members, communities, nations—with respect and dignity.
The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love—Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits by Judson Brewer ($38, PB)
We are all vulnerable to addiction. Whether it’s a compulsion to constantly check social media, binge eating, smoking, excessive drinking, or any other behaviours, we may find ourselves uncontrollably repeating. Why are bad habits so hard to overcome? Is there a key to conquering the cravings we know are unhealthy for us? Dr Judson Brewer, a psychiatrist & neuroscientist who has studied the science of addictions for 20 years, reveals how we can tap into the very processes that encourage addictive behaviours in order to step out of them. He describes the mechanisms of habit & addiction formation, then explains how the practice of mindfulness can interrupt these habits. Weaving together patient stories, his own experience with mindfulness practice, and current scientific findings from his own lab & others, Brewer offers a path for moving beyond cravings, reducing stress & ultimately a fuller life.
book devoted entirely to
the golden years of the Sydney underworld. In the late 1960s Sydney was one of the most prosperous places on earth and one of the most corrupt. The whole corrupt carnival was run by the police in an arrangement known as ‘the joke’. Michael Duffy and Nick Hordern revisit this dark yet fascinating chapter of Sydney’s history, telling stories that would be unbelievable were they not true..
“Paul Irish has breathed new life into people written out of history.” – Stan Grant
The Power of Different: The Link Between Disorder & Genius by Gail Saltz ($33, PB)
Psychologist Gail Saltz presents the latest scientific research & profiles famous geniuses & lay individuals who have been diagnosed with all manner of brain ‘problems’—including learning disabilities, ADD, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia & autism. Saltz shows that the source of our struggles can be the origin of our greatest strengths. Rooted in her experience as a professor & practicing psychiatrist, and based on the latest neurological research, Saltz demonstrates how specific deficits in certain areas of the brain are directly associated with the potential for great talent. She also shows how the very conditions that can cause difficulty at school, in social situations, at home or at work, are bound to creative, disciplinary, artistic, empathetic & cognitive abilities.
ydney Noir is the first ever
ontrary to what you may think, local Aboriginal people
did not lose their culture and die out within decades of Governor Phillip’s arrival in Sydney in 1788. Aboriginal people are prominent in accounts of early colonial Sydney, yet we seem to skip a century as they disappear from
the historical record, re-emerging early in the twentieth century. What happened to Sydney’s indigenous people between the devastating impact of white settlement and increased government intervention a century later? Hidden in Plain View shows that Aboriginal people did not disappear.
w w w. n ews o u t h p u b l i s h i n g .co m
Path to Perfection
I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to my favourite dog in print—Emma Chichester Clark’s Plumdog. Despite reviewing all of her previous books and referring to her correctly as a girl, I carelessly referred to her as ‘he’ in the April Gleaner’s children’s books page. Plum, I’m sorry. Plumdog has been the central character in an excellent book of comic strips, and two beautiful children’s picture books, and she has her own hilarious blog (‘Plumdog Blog’). So I’m very happy to say that Plum has another new book—The Plumdog Path to Perfection—a handy guide to life, full of wisdom from well known sages, and lots of unknown ones as well ($23, HB). If you have ever had a dog, you’ll recognise a lot of the sentiments, and if not, you’ll enjoy it anyway. Emma Chichester Clark’s illustrations are a joy, perfectly matched with each guiding phrase. With advice on perfect friendship, perfect character, perfect love and even a small section called ‘Not absolutely perfect’, this little book will happily lead you onto the path of perfection.
Cultural Studies & Criticism
Speaking of perfection, Mimi Thorisson’s new cookbook, French Country Cooking ($50), would be almost impossible to believe in, such is the level of beauty and perfection in her life, if it weren’t for the very down to earth way she writes, and her fabulous recipes. The author and her photographer husband, Oddur Thorisson, live with their many children and many dogs, in a beautiful old house in a small village in the Médoc region of France— surrounded by vineyards and gardens. The house, the family, and the region are all extremely picturesque, and the recipes all beautifully styled and photographed. Each detailed recipe has an excellent introduction, cleverly making the reader feel ‘I can do that’. There’s a very informative section on wine, and a chapter about the restaurant the family run in the house. M. E. McGuire’s Cynthia Nolan: A Biography ($30) is both greatly lacking in detail, and admirably lacking gossip. Most of the book is about Cynthia Reed’s younger life—she was born in 1908 in Evandale, Tasmania, the youngest child of a large, establishment family, with strict, straight laced parents. For someone from that background, at that time, Cynthia followed a really unconventional path. She was part of the Melbourne art scene, and opened an interior design shop in Little Collins Street. She studied dance and acting and became an actress in Hollywood, and she studied psychiatric nursing as well. She was also a single parent, and wrote several books. So why is this book not more interesting? I think the author has assumed her readers know the story of the extraordinary Cynthia Reed, her complex relationship with her brother and sister in law (John and Sunday Reed), and her marriage to Sidney Nolan. I did not know many of these facts, nor did I know that she was perceived as a ‘difficult woman’, and I still don’t really understand why. As a book, it’s admirably brief, and accessible, with clear footnotes at the end of each chapter, but it’s a very uneven look at a whole life. Louise
The Making of the American Essay by John D’Agata ($45, PB)
For 2 decades, essayist John D’Agata has been exploring the contours of the essay through a series of anthologies that have become foundational texts in the study of the genre. The first volume, The Next American Essay, highlighted major work from 1974 to 2003, while the 2nd, The Lost Origins of the Essay, showcased the essay’s ancient and international forebears. In this volume D’Agata concludes his monumental tour with selections ranging from Anne Bradstreet’s secular prayers to Washington Irving’s satires, Emily Dickinson’s love letters to Kenneth Goldsmith’s catalogues, Gertrude Stein’s portraits to James Baldwin’s and Norman Mailer’s meditations on boxing. His introductions to each selection—intimate and provocative throughout—serve as an extended treatise, collectively forming the backbone of the trilogy.
Somebody with a Little Hammer: Essays by Mary Gaitskill ($47, HB)
Whether she’s writing about date rape or political adultery or writers from John Updike to Gillian Flynn, Mary Gaitskill reads her subjects deftly and aphoristically and moves beyond them to locate the deep currents of longing, ambition, perversity, and loneliness in the American unconscious. She shows us the transcendentalism of the Talking Heads, the melancholy of Björk, the playfulness of artist Laurel Nakadate. She celebrates the clownish grandiosity and the poetry of Norman Mailer’s long career and maps the sociosexual cataclysm embodied by porn star Linda Lovelace. And in the deceptively titled, Lost Cat, she explores how the most intimate relationships may be warped by power and race.
Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley ($33, PB)
Historian Lucy Worsley visits Jane Austen’s childhood home, her schools, her holiday accommodation, the houses both grand and small of the relations upon whom she was dependent, and the home she shared with her mother and sister towards the end of her life, where she wrote her many of her famous novels. This new telling of the story of Jane’s life shows us how and why she lived as she did, examining the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to her, and the way in which home is used in her novels to mean both a place of pleasure and a prison.
The Essential Paradise Lost by John Carey ($33, PB)
After its publication in 1667, John Milton’s Paradise Lost was celebrated throughout Europe as a supreme achievement of the human spirit. Now it is little read. To bring readers back to Milton’s masterpiece, John Carey has shortened it to a third of its original length. In this fascinating reinterpretation, Carey reveals new insights about Milton’s sources of inspiration, while exploring divided readings of the work’s key characters. The Essential Paradise Lost presents the epic’s greatest poetry, with linking passages that preserve its cosmic sweep—from the superhuman defiance of a ruined archangel to a pair of tragic lovers, bewildered to find themselves responsible for the fate of the whole human race..
The Pleasures of Leisure by Robert Dessaix ($30, HB)
In today’s crazily busy world the importance of making time for leisure is more vital than ever. Yet so many of us lack a talent for it. We are working longer hours, consuming more than ever before; technology erodes the work–life balance further; increasingly, people feel that only work gives existence meaning. In a world where time is money, what is the value of walking without purpose, socialising without networking, nesting when we could be on our lap tops? Robert Dessaix shows, in this thoughtful and witty book, how taking leisure seriously gives us back our freedom—to enjoy life, to revel in it, in fact; to deepen our sense of who we are as human beings. He explains how we can reclaim our right to ‘rest well’, and to loaf, groom, nest and play, as he looks at leisure from many angles: reading, walking, travelling, learning languages, taking siestas and simply doing nothing. The result is a terrifically lively and engaging conversation that reminds us that at leisure we are at our most intensely and pleasurably human.
Fighting Hislam: Women, Faith and Sexism by Susan Carland ($30, PB)
The Muslim community that is portrayed to the West is a misogynist’s playground; within the Muslim community, feminism is often regarded with sneering hostility. Yet between those two views there is a group of Muslim women many do not believe exists: a diverse bunch who fight sexism from within, as committed to the fight as they are to their faith. Hemmed in by Islamophobia and sexism, they fight against sexism with their minds, words and bodies. Often, their biggest weapon is their religion. At a time when the media trumpets scandalous revelations about life for women from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia, Muslim women are always spoken about and over, never with—Susan Carland talks with Muslim women about how they are making a stand for their sex, while holding fast to their faith.
Now in B Format Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran, $23 The Genius of Jane Austen: Her Love of Theatre and Why She is a Hit in Hollywood by Paula Byrne
Jane Austen loved the theatre. She learned much of her art from a long tradition of English comic drama and took joyous participation in amateur theatricals. Her juvenilia, then Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice,Mansfield Park and Emma were shaped by the arts of theatrical comedy. Her admiration for drama’s dialogue, characterisation, plotting, exits and entrances is why she has been dramatised so successfully on screen in the last twenty years. Paula Byrne looks at stage adaptations of Austen’s novels (including one called Miss Elizabeth Bennet by A. A.Milne) to modern classics, including the BBC Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility, and reworkings like Amy Heckerling’s Clueless. ($30, HB)
Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Stars 1955–1994 by David Hepworth ($35, PB)
The age of the rock star, like the age of the cowboy, has passed. Like the cowboy, the idea of the rock star lives on in our imaginations. What did we see in them? Swagger. Recklessness. Sexual charisma. Damn-the-torpedoes self-belief. A certain way of carrying themselves. Good hair. Interesting shoes. Talent we wished we had. What did we want of them? To be larger than life but also like us. To live out their songs. To stay young forever. As this tribe of uniquely motivated nobodies went about turning themselves into the ultimate somebodies, they in turn shaped us. David Hepworth zeroes in on defining moments and turning points in the lives of forty rock stars from 1955 to 1995, taking us on a journey to burst a hundred myths and create a hundred more.
WORK STRIFE BALANCE Mia Freedman
‘Whenever women are honest about their struggles, they give other women a gift. Mia delivers.’—Elizabeth Gilbert Here is Mia Freedman’s low road to the top – a fearless, hilarious, inspiring and surprising collection of modern misadventures to read, relate to and rejoice in, then share with all the women in your life. This book is for any woman who’s ever asked: ‘Am I the only one who isn’t quite coping?’
HOUSE OF NAMES Colm Tóibín
From the thrilling imagination of bestselling, award-winning Colm Tóibín comes a retelling of the Greek myth of Clytemnestra – spectacularly audacious, violent, vengeful, lustful, and instantly compelling – and her children. Told in four parts, this is a fiercely dramatic portrait of a murderess. Tóibín brings a modern sensibility and language to the ancient classic, and gives an extraordinary character new life, so that we not only believe Clytemnestra’s thirst for revenge, but applaud it.
SELLING THE DREAM Hugh Mackay
A laugh-out-loud funny and frighteningly believable advertising industry satire. Lincoln The Hunter is living the dream. Universally admired and terrifically charming, he is the jewel in the crown of agency KK&C. When Linc is handed the reins of the high-budget, high-profile campaign for The Ripper, a ground-breaking new snack that noone with functioning tastebuds would voluntarily eat, he knows it’s his chance to leverage his way to greater success and greener, more glamourous pastures.
FIRST, WE MAKE THE BEAST BEAUTIFUL Sarah Wilson
‘I can’t stop thinking about this book. It’s for all the people who, like me, love the Sarahs of the world.’—Helen McCabe Practical and poetic, wise and funny, this is a small book with a big heart. It will encourage the myriad sufferers of anxiety, the world’s most common mental illness, to feel not just better about their condition, but delighted by the possibilities it offers for a richer, fuller life. www.panmacmillan.com.au
Shaping The Fractured Self: Poetry of Chronic Illness & Pain (ed) Heather Taylor Johnson
Of course not all great art has its genesis in pain, and not all pain – not even a fraction – leads to the partial consolations of art. But if lancing an abscess is the surest way to healing, can poetry offer that same cleansing of emotional wounds? This collection showcases 28 of Australia’s finest poets who live with chronic illness and pain. The autobiographical short essays, in conjunction with the three poems from each of the poets, capture the body in trauma in its many and varied moods. Because those who live with chronic illness and pain experience shifts in their relationship to it on a yearly, monthly or daily basis, so do the words they use to describe it. ($30, PB)
The Collected Poems of Li He ($40, PB)
Li He is the bad-boy poet of the late Tang dynasty. He began writing at the age of 7 and died at 26 from alcoholism or, according to a later commentator, ‘sexual dissipation’, or both. An obscure and unsuccessful relative of the imperial family, he would set out at dawn on horseback, pause, write a poem, and toss the paper away. A servant boy followed him to collect these scraps in a tapestry bag. Long considered far too extravagant and weird for Chinese taste, Li He was virtually excluded from the poetic canon until the mid-20th century—this is the only comprehensive selection of his surviving work.
Coming in to Land: Selected Poems 1975–2015 by Andrew Motion ($50, HB)
Though the territory of his exploration may be murky & mired—the front lines of war, political entanglements, romantic longing, and human suffering—Andrew Motion’s conversational tone & lyrical style make for clear, bold poems that speak to contradictions at the heart of the human condition. Whether underground in an urban metro, in the poet’s home, on the steps leading up to Anne Frank’s annex, or wading in the Norfolk broads, Motion’s richly imagined landscapes contain unspoken mysteries underneath the poet’s candor.
s d d w n n a o 2 H R
Biography as we have come to know it has ancient antecedents and immense range—from Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans (written c.200 CE) up to today’s Kardashian Dynasty: The Story of America’s Royal Family (2016). Is the primary function of biography to idealize and commemorate figures in order to provide role models for emulation? Is it to provide an intimate portrait of an individual human life and personality that deepens the selfunderstanding of the reader? Must it be based merely on knowable fact? Does the biographer’s portrait also depend on a measure of insight, speculation, fictionalisation to attempt a recreation of the known and the unknowable? As Nigel Hamilton, one of our selected biographers, asks: Is biography ‘a branch of history’ or ‘an art of human portraiture’? This month, I present a trio of titles from our extensive, and eclectic, range of the most difficult literary art and often the most rewarding. The Full Monty: Montgomery of Alamein 1887–1942 by Nigel Hamilton. (2001). Hardcover. $30. Nigel Hamilton’s official three volume life of WW II commander, British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery (1887–1976) was published between 1981–1986 to great acclaim. Its purpose was to restore Montgomery’s historical reputation, which since the 1950s ‘had been trashed by a growing cohort of British and American military historians who disliked the man and permitted their bias to pervert their historianship’. Fifteen years later, this reworked first volume of his subject appeared. Now apparently freed from the constraints and conventions of those earlier times, Hamilton examines what he calls Montgomery’s ‘strange and absolute’ devotion to his men, and other issues regarding his subject’s sexuality. These were issues that Hamilton admits surfaced during the writing of his trilogy but which he says he did not investigate too closely since ‘as a young biographer’ Hamilton felt unready to enter what he called “those dark waters” of Montgomery’s sexuality. A second, concluding volume has been promised but the years accrue—and no appearance. Marlene Dietrich by Maria Riva (1992). Hardcover. $25. A Serpent’s Tooth was King Lear’s description of an ungrateful child. This thought kept recurring when I read this biography of actress and entertainer, Marlene Dietrich (1901–1992), written by her only child, Maria Riva (b.1924). Riva apparently spent more than a decade gathering material on her mother’s life. Diaries (including selections from Marlene’s childhood diary—very sweet), letters, newspapers, journals, billets-doux—all are used in this long (just on 800 pages), somewhat rambling, personal account of her mother’s life. An agreement was struck between mother and daughter for this memoir not to appear until after Marlene’s death. Just as well. This is an biography that is full of bitchy, snide remarks throughout. An unsympathetic, often cruel, portrait of a parent that also manages to be weirdly entertaining in its gruesomeness. We are spared nothing in the portrait: drug addiction, alcoholism and Marlene’s (very) many loves—among them: Frank Sinatra, Edith Piaf, Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Yul Brynner, Mercedes de Acosta and (unsurprisingly?) President John F. Kennedy in September 1963. She had after all, counted his father, Joseph as a paramour back in the 1940s. Maria Riva’s self-styled image through all this is one of a saintly, long-suffering martyr, yet as the pages pass her jealousy rises. I should add, in mitigation, that the selection of photographs in this book are wonderful. Oscar Wilde by Richard Ellmann (1987). Hardcover. $35. One is always lucky to have one memorable teacher who opens up new avenues of reading in one’s life. Mine was Mrs Johnson who managed to interest an unruly 1974 Fifth Form (that’s Year 11, young uns) High School English class into an understanding (and even an appreciation) of the set authors, and who assigned Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) as additional reading ‘for those of you interested’. That sparked a lifelong enjoyment of Wilde’s writings. Thank you, Mrs Johnson. Thus, it is a pleasure to introduce Richard Ellmann’s magnificent life of Irish author and playwright Oscar Wilde to a new generation of readers. This is a beautifully written work. The passing of thirty years has not diminished the pleasure I found in re-reading it. The range of detail is merged into such a captivating and flowing narrative throughout, that some 600 pages seems almost too few. The five Section Headings: Beginnings, Advances, Exaltations, Disgrace and Exile trace Wilde’s literary beginnings, his incandescent brilliance, rapid flare out and extinguishment at age 46—rather like The Remarkable Rocket, featured in his immortal collection of Fairy Tales. Ellmann’s biography will not be not the final word on Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde. It is however, the indispensable first. Stephen Reid
I Am Flying Into Myself: Selected Poems, 1960– 2014 by Bill Knott ($43, HB)
For half a century, Bill Knott’s brilliant, vaudevillian verse electrified the poetic form. Over his long career, he studiously avoided joining any one school of poetry, preferring instead to freewheel from French surrealism to the avant-garde and back again. Whether drawing from musings on romantic love or propaganda from the Vietnam War, Knott’s quintessential poems are alive with sensory activity, abiding by the pulse and impulse of a pure, restless emotion.
How Dry Am I?
The Centenary of the Noble Experiment Ardent Spirits by John Kobler ($34, PB) Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent ($32, PB) One of my favourite Three Stooges episodes, and I am a Stooge devotee, is Pardon My Scotch. The trio are recruited as temporary drug store attendants during the era of Prohibition. A weary customer arrives and the following dialogue ensues: Bar Patron: Do I feel low. Mix me a pickup! Larry: Well…We got Raspberry… Bar Patron: No, No!...The prescription stuff. (Points toward the back room). The Trio: (together) Ahhh! Moe: Sure! We’ll have you fixed in a second.
The boys retire to the back room to prepare a potion. Moe utters the famous command, ‘Now get busy!’, and by combining various chemicals—all mixed together in a rubber boot—they create an illegal drink that tastes so good that the delighted customer calls it ‘Breath of Heather’ and suggests the trio secretly market it and make a fortune. However, the latent explosive qualities of the libation prove its undoing. Filmed in 1935, it was easy—and topical—for America’s most popular comedy trio to make fun of the recent demise of Prohibition.
The Eighteenth Amendment prohibiting the manufacture, sale and transportation of intoxicating liquor in the United States was laid down in principle by the US Senate on 18 December 1917 and made law by the National Prohibition Act—informally called the Volstead Act after Minnesota Congressman Andrew Volstead (1860-1947), who co-authored it. From 17 January 1920, it became the law of the land. For nearly fourteen years, until its repeal in December 1933, Prohibition— ‘the Noble Experiment’as its supporters called it—was the burning issue at the heart of American society. It became the most debated question in America since slavery. These two books provide contrasting historical reportage of this period and complement each other. John Kobler (1910–2000) was a crime reporter active in Chicago and New York during the 1930s and 1940s. His book—originally published in 1973—devotes over half its pages to an informative account of the American temperance movement, its various leaders and groups from 1609 to the 1890s. Interspersed with this are valuable chapters of interviews and recollections by those who lived through the Prohibition Era. Daniel Okrent provides a more comprehensive narrative of the Prohibition Era itself. His book, published in 2011, formed the basis of a Ken Burns documentary on Prohibition. Prohibition supporters, known as ‘Drys’, had their origins in 19th Century rural, fundamentalist religion—the America of small towns and farms, particularly in the South. It began with the best of intentions. God’s will could best be carried out by attacking the Devil and all his works, especially alcohol. Their task was formidable. The American frontier was awash with it. Beer and ale were the preferred stimulants. In 1850 annual consumption was 136 million litres. By 1890 that had exploded to over 3 billion litres a year. Civic leaders, churches and mothers worried about the effect of alcohol and drunkenness on families. This period saw the foundation of the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement in 1874 and the Anti-Saloon League in 1893. The latter became an extremely powerful singleissue political organisation, one that developed a mastery of lobbying techniques and organised a constant watch on the voting habits of congressmen. However, despite all efforts, Prohibition would probably never have become law were it not for America’s entry into World War I. Brewers in the US were mostly of German descent and militant Drys were able to claim that a vote for Prohibition was a vote against the Kaiser. Chapters of the Anti-Saloon League also claimed that failure to enforce prohibition in Russia had led to the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.
The Amendment was passed and ratified by the states, but with serious flaws. The accompanying laws, provided enough loopholes to guarantee failure. It forbade the sale of liquor but did not forbid its purchase or drinking it. Anyone who stocked up before the law came into force could serve drinks legally till their supply ran out. In an entertaining Prologue to his book, Daniel Okrent gives a vivid description of the mass stockpiling of ‘Liquid Sunshine’ in San Francisco, the day before Prohibition came into force. Sacramental wine was also permitted—thus allowing fake ‘clergymen’ to flourish. Doctors, dentists and even veterinarians were free to write prescriptions for ‘medicinal’ purposes. In 1917 the AMA had banned alcohol as a medicinal therapy. In 1922—two years into Dry America—they reinstated it. Customers bearing doctor’s prescriptions could hurry to such outlets as the recently-founded Walgreen’s Drug Stores and obtain Kaufman’s Sulphur Bitters with 20.5 % alcohol (but no sulphur), or Richardson’s Concentrated Sherry Wine Bitters which contained an astounding 47.5 % alcohol (95 Proof)! As a consequence, pharmacist Charles Walgreen (1873–1939) expanded his drug store chain from some 20 stores in 1919 to over 500 by 1929. A rapid growth—attributed by the official company history to his introduction of the malted milkshake!
Instruments required for home-brewing were also exempt, which allowed for the supply to be endlessly replenished. Penalties were only for those who sold the liquor, not those who drank it. People could drink legally in illegal bars, or Speakeasies, and let the owner face the law. However, graft and corruption provided plenty of protection—when famed Chicago bootlegger Al ‘Scarface’ Capone (1899–1947) boasted ‘I own the police’ he was speaking the literal truth. The Chicago Mayor was also on the Capone payroll.
To halt the flood of illegal liquor into the US was the responsibility of the Prohibition Bureau—a sadly underfunded and understaffed organisation. The famed efforts of Prohibition agents such as Elliot Ness (1903–1957) and his band of incorruptible agents, popularly known as ‘the Untouchables’, are well known. The almost comic antics of the enforcement duo Izzy Einstein (1880–1938) and Moe Smith (1887–1960) in raiding illegal drinking dens also garnered nation-wide publicity. Yet, a mere 1,500 Prohibition Agents were expected to stop 120 million Americans from drinking. They faced an unceasing flood of illegal alcohol—figures that are still astonishing: Smuggling of liquor from Canada to America averaged 25 to 30 million litres a year. Doctored ‘industrial alcohol’ added another 200 million litres a year to the supply—and incidentally caused the deaths of some 5,000 people annually. Combine to this the 260 million litres of ‘Moonshine’—illegal liquor produced each year by small operators. Between 1919 to 1924—the first five years of Prohibition—some 3 trillion litres of ‘near-beer’ were delivered to Speakeasies, along with the alcohol that had been removed. Customers could then request a glass of ‘needle beer’—the alcohol added with a squirt from a syringe. Paradoxically, the social problems created by Prohibition were greater than those which existed in the first place. Previously law-abiding citizens were encouraged to indulge in illegal activities. The prosperous Roaring Twenties saw the diffusion of new social attitudes produced by the very law that had intended their destruction. Lifestyles of the rich and famous were now being transmitted nationwide by the new technologies of change: the radio, the movies, the motor car. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that ‘the whole upper tenth of the nation lived with the insouciance of grand ducs and chorus girls’ and the majority of the nation sought to emulate them.
The onset of the Great Depression was another factor that doomed the Dry crusade. With the search for work and bread, liquor ceased to be an important moral issue. The claims of excess used by the Prohibitionists to establish and defend the Eighteenth Amendment were now used by their opponents to attack and repeal it. The return of the public bar was seen as a necessary evil. The Wets claimed that the reopening of the liquor business would create enough jobs to return America to prosperity. Money saved from enforcing Prohibition would provide an economic stimulus that would end the Slump. In 1933, the Senate voted for outright repeal. The ‘Noble Experiment’ was over. Yet not entirely discredited. The popular opinion that Prohibition led to an increase of liquor consumption by at least ten percent compared to legal drinking days has been challenged by some modern researchers who claim that alcohol consumption in the US remained below pre-Prohibition levels until the 1940s, which suggests that a significant proportion of the population retained their newly acquired temperate habits, temporarily. Stephen Reid
Language & Writing
The Snark Bible: A Reference Guide to Verbal Sparring, Comebacks, Irony, Insults, and So Much More by Lawrence Dorfman ($23, PB)
The lord of snark, Lawrence Dorfman, is back! With this treasury of backhanded compliments, sarcastic insults, and catty comebacks, Dorfman gives a transformative wisdom that’s sure to change your life—or at least induce a light chuckle. One question plagues us all: How do we survive all the Sturm und Drang of everyday life? The answer is but one word: snark.
How to be Good with Words by Don LePan et al
We may argue rather less frequently than was once the case over issues of grammar and usage. But we argue more frequently than ever overwhether to use man or humanity, fisher or fisherman. Can we use language in ways that avoid giving expression to prejudices embedded within it? Can the words we use help us point a way towards a better world? Can we take these issues with appropriate seriousness while remaining open-minded— and still retaining our sense of humor? To all these questions this little book answers yes, while offering clear-headed discussions of many of the key issues. ($30, PB)
May We Borrow Your Language? How English Steals Words from All Over the World by Philip Gooden ($35, HB)
The English language is a linguistic mongrel, its vocabulary a diverse mix resulting from centuries of borrowing from other tongues—from the Celtic languages of pre-Roman Britain to Norman French; from the Vikings’ Old Scandinavian to Persian, Sanskrit, Algonquian, Cantonese and Hawaiian, Philip Gooden explores the stories behind scores of familiar words that the English language has filched from abroad; in so doing, it also sheds fascinating light on the wider history of the development of the English we speak today. Full of etymological nuggets this is a gift book for word buffs to cherish—as cerebrally stimulating as it is more-ishly entertaining.
Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories (ed & ill)Audrey Niffenegger, HB
A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction Terry Pratchett, HB
I Was 50
How to Think Like Einstein Daniel Smith, HB
Spell It Out: The Curious, Enthralling and Extraordinary Story of English Spelling David Crystal, HB
Ancient Egypt on Five Deben a Day by Donald P. Ryan, HB
The Sultan’s Istanbul on Five Kurush a Day Charles Fitzroy, HB
Fairy Tales from Many Lands (ill) Arthur Rackham, HB
The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens’ London Judith Flanders, HB
Philosophy for a Better World Floris van den Berg, HB
Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth about Everything Barbara Ehrenreich, HB
The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life Sheldon Solomon et al, HB
Egyptomania: Our 3000 Year Obsession with the Land of the Pharaohs Bob Brier, HB
Grimm’s Fairy Tales (ill) Arthur Rackham, HB
S Was $40
In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon’s Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I Wars, 1793-1815 Peter Ackroyd, HB Jenny Uglow, HB
The Arabian Nights (tr) Brian Alderson (ill) Michael Foreman, HB
The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories Ian Rankin, HB
P Was $49
Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science Alice Dreger, HB
The Bible: A Reader’s Guide Henry Wansbrough, HB
The 10 Best Games in the World, HB
Tracey Moffatt—My Horizon ($50, HB) With all new work, including large-scale photography & film, this book situates Tracey Moffatt’s work in the international arena as an artist who consistently takes the tempo of our times. Moffatt has created highly stylized narratives & montage to explore a range of themes, including the complexities of interpersonal relationships, the curiousness of popular culture, and her own deeply felt childhood memories & fantasies. The book presents a compendium of texts that reflect on the artist’s highly political & personal fictions, allowing readers to ponder what might be over the horizon. Contributing authors include Germano Celant, Adrian Martin, Moira Roth, Susan Bright, Djon Mundine, Alexis Wright & Romaine Moreton.
Magnum Manifesto ($90, HB) Magnum Manifesto is organized into 3 main parts: Part 1 (1947–1968) views the Magnum archive through a humanist lens, focusing on post-war ideals of commonality & utopianism. Part 2 (1969–1989) shows a world fragmenting, with a focus on subcultures, minorities & outsiders. Part 3 (1990– present day) charts the ways in which Magnum photographers have captured—and continue to capture—a world in flux & under threat. Featuring both group & individual projects, the book includes contact sheets, notebooks, magazine spreads & other previously unseen material to accompany the photographs. The Fabric of Life: Textiles from the Middle East & Central Asia by Fahmida Suleman ($60, HB)
From the intricate embroidery on a Palestinian wedding dress to the richness of indigo-dyed textiles from Oman, this book examines how textiles reflect the beliefs, practices & experiences of people from across Turkey, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iran & the countries of the Arabian peninsula. Works by contemporary artists & designers highlight how old traditions are being adapted to convey new messages, as exemplified by the work of modern Lebanese furniture designers Huda Baroudi and Marie Hibri who use original Uzbek suzani textiles in the upholstery of their pieces. Pieces are grouped into themed chapters according to their purpose or meaning, enabling, for eg, the comparison of domestic furnishings, wedding attire & amulets from across the region.
DVDs With Scott Donovan Things to Come: Dir. Mia Hansen-Løve
The wonderful Isabelle Huppert stars in this oh-so-French drama about a middle aged philosophy teacher (Huppert) experiencing an existential crisis when her happy structured life falls apart. Abandoned by her husband, at last rid of her eccentric and demanding mother, dumped by her publisher and distanced from her grown-up children, Nathalie (Huppert) finds her newfound freedom simultaneously liberating and disconcerting. Things to Come is an intelligent, poetic and naturalistic exploration of one woman’s pursuit of contentment in the face of adversity. ($25.95, Region 2)
No Second Chance: Dir. Pascal Elbé ($39.95, Region 2)
Dr Alice Lambert (Alexandra Lamy) gets up early to fix a bottle for her six-month old daughter. Suddenly, two gunshots ring out. Everything goes black. When Alice emerges from a coma a week later, a nightmarish reality awaits. Her husband was murdered and her baby is missing. Suspected by the police and hunted by ruthless hit men, Alice refuses to give up. She can feel it, she knows her daughter is alive out there somewhere, waiting for her. Alone in her search for Tara, Alice turns to Richard (Pascal Elbe), her first love and a former criminal investigator. Based on the bestselling novel by Harlan Coben, No Second Chance.
The Fits: Dir. Anna Rose Holmer ($32.95, Region 2)
11-year-old Cincinnati girl Toni (Royalty Hightower)is training at a gym when she notices a local dance troupe—watching them through the practice room window. After attending an open audition for new dancers, she befriends fellow hopeful Beezy (Alexis Neblett) and together the girls begin trying to master the routines. However, when Toni is the only member of the group not to be affected by a sudden series of mysterious and violent seizures, her quest to become accepted by her peers becomes even more difficult.
The Essential John Sayles: 3 Classics ($29.95)
Lianna: Suppressed emotions, curiosity, sexual ambiguity and a loveless marriage; The Return of the Secaucus Seven: a story of friends, sex, jealousy and unrequited love beautifully told in a cosy vacation house in New Hampshire. The Brother From Another Planet is a slick, cultures-collide type comedy of intergalactic proportions.
Platform papers 51—Missing in Action: The ABC and Australian Screen Culture by Kim Dalton ($17, PB)
Kim Dalton, as CEO of the Australian Film Commission from 1999 overhauled its development programs and led the policy debate around Australian content on television. As Director of ABCTV (2006–13), he moved the corporation into the digital era, and now looks critically at the present state of the ABC and broadcasting. Over the last 60 years, he writes, Australia had developed an effective public policy framework that strategically connected Australian broadcasters, screen content & an independent creative & production sector to produce it. Yet today the ABC operates outside this framework. Using its status as a statutory authority to eschew transparency, accountability & engagement with public policy objectives, the ABC now pursues an internal agenda & its own priorities. Governance is lacking; new measures are needed to return the ABC to its chartered place as a contributor to Australia’s screen culture.
Comparing Notes: How We Make Sense of Music by Adam Ockelford ($40, HB)
A tap of the foot, a rush of emotion, the urge to hum a tune; without instruction or training we all respond intuitively to music. Comparing Notes explores what music is, why we are all musical, and how abstract patterns of sound that don’t actually mean anything can in fact be so meaningful. Taking the reader on a clear & compelling tour of major 20th century musical theories, Adam Ockelford arrives at his own important psychologically grounded theory of how music works. From pitch & rhythm to dynamics & timbre, he shows how all the elements of music cohere through the principle of imitation to create an abstract narrative in sound that we instinctively grasp, whether listening to Bach or the Beatles. Based on 3 decades of innovative work with blind children & those on the autism spectrum, Ockleford draws lessons from neurodiversity to show how we all develop musically, and to explore the experience of music from composer & performer to listener.
Balancing Acts: Behind the Scenes at the National Theatre by Nicholas Hytner ($50, HB)
This is the inside story of twelve years at the helm of Britain’s greatest theatre. It is a story of lunatic failures and spectacular successes such as The History Boys, War Horse and One Man, Two Guvnors; of opening the doors of the National Theatre to a broader audience than ever before, and changing the public’s perception of what theatre is for. It is about probing Shakespeare from every angle & reinventing the classics. About fostering new talent and directing some of the most celebrated actors of our times. Its cast includes the likes of Alan Bennett, Maggie Smith, Mike Leigh, Daniel Day-Lewis, Michael Gambon and Helen Mirren.
Nordic Painting: The Rise of Modernity by Katharina Alsen &Annika Landmann ($135, HB)
Focusing on the core countries Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland as well as the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and the DanishGerman border region, this book presents a thematically organized overview of Nordic art between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Drawing from the most recent scholarship, the book considers the prevalent themes and subjects, such as landscapes, genre scenes, portraits, interiors, modern city life, and abstraction, and analyses various works by artists such as Edvard Munch, Vilhelm Hammershoi, Helene Schjerfbeck, Johannes S. Kjarval & Sigrid Hjerten..
Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City 1952–1965 ($115, HB)
While the achievements of New York City’s most renowned postwar artists—de Kooning, Pollock, Rothko, Franz Kline—have been studied in depth, a large cadre of lesser-known but influential artists came of age between 1952 and 1965. Also understudied are the early, experimental works by more well- known figures such as Mark di Suvero, Jim Dine, Dan Flavin & Claes Oldenburg. Focusing on innovative artist-run galleries, this book invites readers to reevaluate the period--uncovering its diversity, creativity, and nuances, and tracing the spaces’ influence during the decades that followed. Excerpts from 33 revealing interviews with artists, critics, and dealers, conducted by Billy KluÌver and Julie Martin, offer unique personal insight into the era’s creative milieu.
DIY Gift Shop
Make your own gifts!
The Art and Craft of Wood introduces readers to the world of backyard lumberjacking and the basics of wood craft. Learn how to mill, stack, dry, and flatten your log into useable lumber and create a variety of useful household furnishings. $29.99, HB
Crafting for Cat Ladies offers easy to follow step-by-step projects that range from a kitty clutch wallet and cat embroidered jeans to kitty-shaped coasters and cat-themed plates. The purr-fect gifts for the cat people in your life. ($25)
what we're reading
John: I have just caught up with and thoroughly enjoyed A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles ($30). Having returned from Paris after the Revolution, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov has become a ‘Former Person’ under house arrest in Moscow’s grand Hotel Metropol. The count’s circumstances are in decline but his relationships with friends and staff members of the hotel enrich his life. Released late last year it unfortunately got lost in the flood of new books that publishers release in the ten weeks before Christmas. Its taken me six months to catch up with it and I think it deserves a far wider readership. Andrew: I am a huge fan of Colm Tóibín. Possibly his most consummate novels have been set in or around County Wexford, where he was born, but I will admit to preferring his bolder, more imaginative, side—where he takes real historical people as his subjects; such as The Testament of Mary (as in the mother of Christ) and The Master (Henry James). So for me, his new novel, The House of Names, is a huge delight. Tóibín takes on the story of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra (the king who is prepared to murder his own daughter as a sacrifice to the gods; the grief stricken and enraged wife, prepared to murder her husband in revenge), and that of their two children, Electra and Orestes, who inexorably play out the consequences of their parents’ actions. The universe of this novel is one in which the sway and influence of the gods has come to an end, and we are left to stare into the dark moral hearts of the protagonists with a modern eye—without the tedious safety net of divine intervention or fate. His Clytemnestra in particular is a superlative portrayal. It is quite a tightrope act to portray a woman, so clear-eyed in her anguished grief, discovering within herself the motivation to murder her husband. Tóibín pulls it off spectacularly. If all of this sounds like hard going, I promise it is not. It is actually for the most part a barnstormer of a story wonderfully told. It divides its time between the shadows and malcontent of Agamemnon’s palace, and a remote coastal farm house surrounded by cliffs and wheeling seagulls. I’m not sure what fans of Norah Webster will make of this tale of mythological filicide and parricide, but for me this book was ultimately as moving. There is something essential, distilled, about Tóibín’s prose. I hesitate to call it spare or unadorned because he actually has this fantastic capability to conjure a wonderful lyricism out of nowhere. For all its downstage violence, it is a book of light and shadow, subtle observation and ellipitic emotions. In this it reminded me of another fantastic reworking of a segment of the Iliad—David Malouf’s Ransom; a much gentler novel that dwells on paternal love, and the wisdom of experience, but one that is just as confident in its skin. Read ‘em both!
Mike: I found Megan Hunter’s debut novel, The End We Start From ($20, HB) in a box of proofs—I admit, I was drawn to it because it was small and had a nice cover ... but, Wow! I read it in one sitting, and could not think of anything else for the rest of that day—it is the best thing I have read this year thus far. Wow. Just wow. A brief, but amazingly deep tale of a young woman (the unnamed narrator) who has just given birth to her first child in the midst of a catastrophic environmental disaster—London and the UK are sinking beneath flood waters. The writing is set in paragraphs of three sentences or so, which makes it extremely hard to put down (I’ll just read one more bit...). This is the first I’d heard of Hunter—but she can sure write. Steve: A group of barely-competent, squabbling mountaineers set off to scale the 40,000-and-a-half-foot peak, Rum Doodle in Yogistan. Published in 1956, The Ascent of Rum Doodle ($25) by W. E. Bowman is an hilarious first-person parody of the travel–adventure-mountaineering narratives of the early 20th century. The team includes Binder, the naïve, goodhearted leader; Jungle, the radio expert and route-finder who is constantly getting lost; Wish, the scientist who conducts increasingly bizarre experiments and keeps an eye out for the famed Atrocious Snowman; Prone, the doctor who is always ill; Constant, the diplomat and linguist whose grammatical errors and imperfect language skills cause continual unrest with the Yogistan natives and Pong, the cook, who reduces the expedition’s plentiful supplies to daily unappetising meals. When The Ascent of Rum Doodle first appeared, it acquired a cult-following—as future classics released to initial widespread neglect often do. Its most ardent devotees consisted of mountaineers and polar scientists many of whom were convinced the author must be a pseudonym for an accomplished mountaineer. In fact, the creator of this gentle comic gem was Yorkshire-born Civil Engineer, William Bowman (1911–1985) who thought up the idea for the book while hiking in the Lake District. His inspiration came from British climber Bill Tilman’s 1937 account of the Nanda Devi Expedition.Bowman’s only other published book— The Cruise of the Talking Fish (1957) was a parody of the Thor Heyerdahl KonTiki Expedition of 1947. Judy: I am keen to draw your attention to Charlotte by David Foenkinos, who became obsessed with the artist Charlotte Salomon—her short, passionate life and her beautiful, vivid work. The novel is written in verse form and is a joy to read. This woman’s life was dogged by generations of suicides and it ended so very prematurely in Auschwitz, yet when you view her work it is only and all about life. Everything that was secretive and unbearably sad finds its place in her major work Life? or Theatre? She stands above her fate. This book and its celebration of Charlotte is a gift to any reader.
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Bestsellers—Non-Fiction 1. A Writing Life: Helen Garner & Her Work
2. The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century &
the Birth of the Modern Mind
A C Grayling
3. Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Under
4. The Honest History Book
(eds) David Stephens & Alison Broinowski
6. They Cannot Take the Sky: Stories from Detention
(eds) Michael Green & André Dao
7. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family & Culture
8. Where Hummingbirds Dance
J D Vance Susi Prescott
9. Repaying My Debt: A Conservationist’s Tale
10. Dark Emu, Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident?
Bestsellers—Fiction 1. The Woolgrower’s Companion
2. The Dry
3. Earthly Remains 4. Between a Wolf & a Dog
Donna Leon Georgia Blain
5. The Sellout
6. Swing Time
7. Lincoln in the Bardo 8. The Good People 9. See What I Have Done 10. Storyland
George Saunders Hannah Kent Sarah Schmidt
and another thing.....
Sydney Writer’s Festival is here again and Gleebooks staff will be watching from the wings—at the main bookstore wharf-side and the stalls at the many venues around Sydney, and in the Mountains—keeping you supplied with every single one of the attending authors’ books. If it’s in print we’ll have it. Meanwhile the new books keep on coming. Just today I received a copy of the latest in the Hogarth Shakespeare rewrites, Tracy Chevalier’s New Boy—Othello by another name. Osei is a Ghanaian diplomat’s son, and it’s his first day at an elementary school in a 1974 whitebread Washington neighbourhood. Daniela, or Dee, befriends him—if the original is anything to go by, I’m assuming there’ll be tears before day’s end. The first pages have me well roped in. I always have to keep up with Sarah Paretsky’s seminal female PI, VI Warshawksi—this month her newest investigation, Fallout, looks like it may be conducted under a timely radioactive cloud. Whilst browsing in the shop I picked up a US edition of Robert Coover’s (ad)venture into the world of Huck Finn. Not rafting along the Mississip this outing, Huck has gone West in his later years—accompanied by the Civil War, the Indian Wars, and liberal doses of moonshine. The voice of Coover’s Huck is not quite Twain’s, but it’s close enough to be an engaging entertainment. I’m also reading Mary Gaitskill’s collection Somebody With a Little Hammer. What a fantastic, terrifically insightful writer—you can’t stop at one. Her essay on Dickens’ Bleak House—And It Would Not Be Wonderful to Meet a Megalosaurus has me seriously considering the not inconsiderable (timewise) project of rereading Bleak House. Whenever anyone says they don’t like Dickens I usually read them its opening pages (where you may meet a Megolosaurus)—now I think I’ll just give them Gaitskill’s essay to read. Her biographical piece on grief, love, trauma, you name it, and the search for the essay’s eponymous Lost Cat is a standout, as is the description of Sarah Palin in her election diary. See you at the festival. Viki
For more May new releases go to:
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