Thursday, 25 November 2010

Helen really likes 'Sydney'

Sydney by Delia Falconer

Part of a beautifully bound series on Australia’s capital cities that already includes In Search of Hobart and Brisbane, with forthcoming volumes on Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide, Delia Falconer’s thoughtful and evocative little book on her home town leaves you thinking about the city, and indeed about everyday existence, in a new way. Part memoir, part history (both official and anecdotal), part poetic meditation on place, this book explores and seeks to explain Sydney’s many contradictions and idiosyncrasies. Falconer’s Sydney is a steaming, fecund, summery city: jacaranda trees in full bloom, the whine of mosquitos, the relief brought by a cool change at one in the morning. Yet she observes an undercurrent of melancholy as Sydney’s fundamental emotion, and this notion has a bearing on her reading of every aspect of the city, from its famous brashness, to the quality of its sunshine, to its inhabitants’ love of touristy activities like the Bridge Climb. Falconer also masterfully weaves a strong sense of artistic tradition into the fabric of her personal encounter with the city through references to the literature, art and culture that has shaped the city’s consciousness. This perceptive and imaginative book provides a fresh yet familiar idea of Sydney, and an atmospheric portrayal of an elusive subject. Helen

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