Monday, 18 November 2013

Notes from Eve Abbey ~ November 2013

Peter Milne, our Crime Guru, now retired, recommended a newish series to me. I read The Resistance Man, number 6 in the series. They feature Bruno, Chef de Police, and are set in the Dordogne area of France. The author, Martin Walker, seems to be a retired Brit living happily in that lovely Perigot region of France. Bruno is A Good Guy. He has been a soldier in Kosovo, but now takes care of St Denis, his nice little town, as well as his horses and his various lady friends. They all enjoy a good dinner, so there is plenty of gastroporn. You can even seek out where to buy such delicious cheeses and wines on the website website (notice the English spelling). I think these novels could be called Police Procedurals, French-style. Entertaining reading.

Over the years, there have been various Reading Guides, usually compiled by book trade identities or popular authors. The sort of book which says, “If you like that, you might like this.” A truly novel approach just out is called The Novel Cure by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin. The authors call it a new sort of self-help book and recommend four or five novels each for various unhappy states – such as depression or diarrhoea, gluttony or obesity, etc. It is quite fascinating to see the titles chosen and of course it is a book for dipping into, not to read right through. Nonetheless the summaries of the hundreds of books they suggest will send you off to read some good books you have either missed or forgotten. Have fun!

I always enjoy Australian Biographies and want to especially recommend Stillways: A Memoir by Steve Bisley. You will know him more as a successful actor on both TV and screen, but he now proves he can write as well. This will be an Australian childhood classic. It is set in the 1960s around Wyong, where his parents had a small farm. A violent, unhappy father is not allowed to completely cloud good memories, while his adolescent adventures at high school will be required reading for young men, and girls as well. The story ends when he gets his first job, and I hope he will continue his memoirs.

If you are an admirer of Imre Kertesz, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize for Literature, you will be interested in Dossier K. This is a memoir translated from Hungarian by Tim Wilkinson. The book came out of his in-depth conversations with his editor, Zoltan Hafner, in 2003 and 2004. Kertesz’s book Fateless (aka Fatelessness), an account of a puzzled, 14-year-old Jewish boy taken to Auschwitz, is considered to be Holocaust recording equal to Primo Levi. I see we even have a copy of Fateless available in Hungarian (Sorstalansag) upstairs in Language Book Centre.

We have lots of fans of Historical Crime at Abbey’s, especially those written by Elizabeth Peters, who recently died. Her most famous character is Amelia Peabody, a Victorian pyramid explorer who is rather like the author, a frustrated Egyptologist. The author is also known as Barbara Michaels when she writes modern thrillers. She had to use two pen-names to avoid being called prolific, which can be rather looked down upon, but she had a talent to tell a good story with authentic background. Try The Serpent on the Crown.

Ann Leahy, a previous manager of Abbey’s and previous editor of the Abbey’s Advocate, came to see me for lunch recently. I gave her a copy of Friends in High Places, one of Donna Leon’s excellent detective stories set in Venice. Glad to hear she is now hooked. There are at least twenty-one titles and I notice we have some titles in French or Spanish upstairs in Language Book Centre.

I hardly need to remind you that Abbey’s is a special sort of bookshop, but if I did it would be proved by the fact that one of our bestsellers has been Hobbitus Ille: The Latin Hobbit by J R R Tolkien and Mark Walker. This is for old or young, and for a new student of Latin or a real Latin scholar. Everyone will get something different out of it.

Another area where Abbey’s is different is Literary Criticism. When I recently read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead before going to see the play at the Sydney Theatre, I also read a Faber Critical Guide to Tom Stoppard, which had wonderful insights and textual comparisons, as well as the text (and the same for Arcadia, Travesties and Jumpers). Our section holds large reference titles, as well as small genre notebooks and essays, followed by criticism of individual authors, including all of the Cambridge Companion to.... individual authors (and subjects too). Such as The Cambridge Companion to Moliere or The Cambridge Companion to Allegory. David tells me that there is even a Cambridge Companion to Horseracing!

View the range of Cambridge Companions in stock.

Keep well! Eve

Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

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