Friday, 4 July 2014

Notes from Eve Abbey - July 2014

I was a bit reluctant to begin reading the newly published “latest” book by great Australian writer Elizabeth Harrower’s In Certain Circles.

Finished in 1971, the manuscript sat in the National Library of Australia until Michael Heyward, of Text Publishing persuaded Elizabeth to let them publish it this year.

I was still recovering from the tension after re- reading her most famous book, The Watch Tower. Would In Certain Circles prove a disappointment? Would this be yet another psychological thriller? The answers are No to the first and Yes to the second question. In Certain Circles is an almost perfect novel and suffers in no way from being written more than forty years ago. The picture of affluent life in Sydney’s Northern Suburbs seems scarcely different, except there remains that certain cultural uneasiness that things were better in Europe, which we don’t feel so much today. The story chronicles the interlocking lives of two sets of brother and sister, one set poor orphans and the other set blessed with charm, security and confidence. There is intense scrutiny of their actions, a great deal of unspoken understanding and psychological awareness. Put aside a few days to read this novel carefully. It will repay your attention. Her other novels are Down in the City, The Long Prospect and The Catherine Wheel. All have been re-published under the Text Classics series at only $12.95.

I mention this price because despite people thinking eBooks are the answer to cheap reading materials you can now buy really good books at very reasonable prices. Penguin Classics, Popular Penguins and various other imprints including the War Series are only $9.95 while Vintage Classics are only $12.95. There is a huge range. They may not be the latest but they are good and worth keeping in print. Shops like Abbey’s make a point of having the full range so browsing is well worthwhile.

I was sad to read of the death of Eric Hill, the creator of all those wonderful books for very young children. Who doesn’t have a memory of reading Where’s Spot to a child? If they don’t they have missed a great pleasure. Remember lifting the flap and searching for Spot? There are 134 titles on Abbey’s database including some in Italian, Spanish or Chinese (even in dual language Chinese/English) although not all are in stock. Lindy Jones keeps her discerning eye on the fabulous children’s section in the back corner of Abbey’s so she will always help you find just the right book while you have to go upstairs to Language Book Centre for those in foreign text. Remember you can now go up in the lift from the lobby if you don’t fancy climbing the stairs.

Prompted by yet another obituary I have been reading some of the Collected Stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. Published in the 1960’s they remain vivid, exciting pleasures where you can see his progress from experimentation towards Magical Realism. Marquez is said to be the most popular author since Cervantes! Find him under G for Garcia on the shelves! If you haven’t already read his most famous books One Hundred Years of Solitude or Love in the Time of Cholera perhaps now is the moment? They are both available in Popular Penguin as well as other editions. There are editions in Spanish upstairs in Language Book Centre as well as a biography by Gerald Martin while in Literary Criticism you can choose the Cambridge Companion to Gabriel Garcia Marquez by Philip Swanson or the Cambridge Introduction to Gabriel Garcia Marquez by Gerald Martin.

There was some good news from The New York Times recently about a new, big prize called The Breakthrough Prize. It is for Mathematics which has not been included in the Nobel Lists. When you hear it will be worth three times as much as the Nobel you won’t be surprised it is funded by two Silicon Valley moneymen, Yuri Milner and Mark Zuckerberg. They have already awarded 3 million dollars each to five mathematicians. Three of the men (no women yet) have previously won the Fields Medal but this is only awarded every four years and is worth $15,000 Canadian Dollars. The Fields Medal began in 1936 and is awarded by the International Mathematical Union at their four yearly Congress. So this is a huge step forward.

Mathematics is a beautiful language which unfortunately I do not speak but Abbey’s has a huge range of titles. Some customers from Melbourne always come in to check the Mathematics sections.

I checked our database and found almost 20,000 titles but 465 ready to ship including Alan Turing’s Systems of Logic: The Princeton Thesis by Andrew W. Appel or The Proof is in the Pudding: The Changing Nature of Mathematical Proof by Steven G. Krantz or The Works of Archimedes: Volume 1, The Two Books on the Sphere and the Cylinder. Commentary by Archimedes and Reviel Nietz. If you would like to continue your search you will find Mathematics as a sub-category of Science and Medicine in Abbey’s database.

Bangarra Dance Theatre has recently staged Patyegarang, the story of the friendship between a young Aboriginal girl and William Dawes, astronomer with the First Fleet, after whom Dawes Point is named. Perhaps this is the time to read Kate Grenville’s follow-up to The Secret River, which is called The Lieutenant and covers this same story.

Keep well.


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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