Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Notes from Eve Abbey ~ January 2016

I picked up a copy of Chasing Lost Time: The Life of C. K. Scott Moncrieff – Soldier, Spy and Translator...

...written by a descendant, Jean Findlay. Scott Moncrieff's most important claim to fame is for his translation of Proust’s magnum opus Remembrance of Things Past, all seven volumes, as well as countless other items including the works of Pirandello and Stendhal. The accounts of trench warfare and meetings with various war poets are good. The spy bit is interesting – as an enthusiastic homosexual in those times he was practiced in deception. As a family descendant Findlay had access to family diaries as well as masses of letters, including those with Vyvian Holland, Oscar Wilde’s son. Perhaps this explains rather too much detail about his childhood. However, literati will enjoy this. It’s a picture of a literary lifestyle now passed.

I also read my first Henning Mankell crime novel over the holidays. It was called The Return of the Dancing Master and is one of the first books by this author before the introduction of Inspector Wallander. This is about the murder of a reclusive old man living in the forest, followed by several more deaths, all seemingly connected. Now I shall start on the eleven volumes featuring the troubled Inspector Wallander.

The first one is Faceless Killers followed by The Dogs of Riga, The White Lioness, One Step Behind, Sidetracked, Firewall, The Fifth Woman, The Man Who Smiled, The Troubled Man, The Pyramid (a prequel of short stories), and An Event in Autumn.

Unfortunately Henning Mankell died late 2015 so there will be no new novels. Wallander's daughter, Linda, assisted the Inspector in Before the Frost, the first of an intended offshoot series that Mankell didn’t continue because he was affected by the suicide death of the actress that played Linda in the Swedish television adaptation. Linda also assisted Wallander in An Event in Autumn.

Quicksand: A Memoir is due for publication early 2016.


Now for some very sad news. Peter Milne died just before Christmas. Our indispensable, seemingly everlasting Peter Milne. Readers of Abbey’s Crime Chronicle will feel bereft. Abbey’s and the book trade generally owe a great deal to him. Peter worked for Abbey’s from 1971 to 2011. That’s forty years of hard work, suggestions, insight and infallible memory and invigorating, cheerful company. I can’t count the hours that Peter devoted to ensuring Abbey’s is a great bookshop.

In addition he has been President of the NSW Booksellers Association (1976 – 1978; 1980), Junior Vice President of the Australian Booksellers Association in 1979, a co-writer of the first National Constitution for the Association and was made a Life Member in 1994. In 1997 he was awarded the Lloyd O’Neill Award for Services to the Book Trade.

His enthusiasm for crime writing led him to create the Crime Chronicle, a monthly list of new titles that now goes out to over 2,000 subscribers. He was a co-founder of the Crime Writers Association of Australia and led the booksellers case at the NSW Prices Commission hearing into book prices in 1978.

Peter retired in 2011 but was still on the end of the phone for me whenever I couldn’t remember some name or event. He was 75 years old. I shall miss him.

Details of the wake can be found here.


I also have to tell you about the death of Brian Johns, another book trade icon. Others will remember him in his roles as Managing Director of both SBS and later ABC but I remember him as an energetic publisher for Penguin in the 80’s, which were a golden age for bookselling and as Managing Director of the greatly appreciated Copyright Agency Limited. He was always an encouraging enthusiast for books. A terrific bloke. Thank you Brian.

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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So sad to hear of the death of Peter Milne. A very great loss to everyone.