Friday, 3 June 2016

Notes from Eve Abbey ~ June 2016

Have you read Tim Winton’s great book Cloudstreet(If you look it up make sure you call it thus because 'Cloud Street', two words, will only lead to confusion).

I think perhaps it is time to read it again. I know I held off a very long time because I’m not keen on big books but when I did read it I thought it magnificent and I do think, now, that I should read it again. It is hard to miss knowing about Cloudstreet. There have been a hugely popular play, a TV series and several editions and now there is to be an opera, composed by Australian George Palmer, with Gail Edwards as Director, just opened at the State Opera of South Australia. It is coming up to twenty five years since publication.

Tim Winton has sent a personal postcard to lots of independent booksellers thanking them for their efforts. He acknowledges Cloudstreet is a top example of the success of handselling by knowledgeable independent booksellers.

You must already know that Cloudstreet covers the lives of two large rural families who have met hard times and must move to the city where they both end up sharing a very large and rambling house. And you can share their lives for the next twenty years or so. Tim Winton is such a marvellous all-round writer I thought it a good idea to remind you of his stories for children such as Lockie Leonard: The Human Torpedo or Legend or Scumbuster or Bugalugs: Bum Thief, all of them fun. And upstairs in Language Book Centre you will find Weite Welt: Australische Geschichten or Singende Baum (Dirt Music in German) or Atem (Breath in German) or Respiro (Breath in Italian). What a treasure he is.

Donna Leon has come good again. Her latest is The Waters of Eternal Youth which is the twenty fifth book in her series featuring Commissario Brunetti and his colleagues and family. This is an unusual tale because Brunetti is asked to find out more about a tragic accident which happened many years ago. One which left the beautiful young Venetian woman brain-damaged, captured in eternal youth. It’s a good story and gives Donna Leon room to talk about the changes in Venice over the past years and what is happening now. Perhaps she doesn’t allow her books to be translated into Italian so she feels free to criticise the Government.

Who Bombed the Hilton has proved to be an unanswerable question. We certainly would like to know. When this outrage took place Abbey’s still operated Henry Lawson’s Bookshop in the Royal Arcade beneath the Hilton which meant we had to staff the little tobacco kiosk which sold the newspapers in the foyer of the Hotel. After the explosion the whole place was locked down. Peter Milne had to run across the road from Abbey’s in the Queen Victoria Building and, after being cleared by security, take the daily papers which had been dropped off in George Street, up the escalator to the kiosk.

Some people still wonder about this event in 1978 when a bomb was exploded in a street rubbish bin outside the Sydney Hilton while the Commonwealth Heads of Government were meeting inside. What was the object of the bomb? Who let it off?

Thirty years later there is no answer but Rachel Landers who has spent years searching the archives has put together an intriguing possibility. Some readers will remember the passionate seventies for Vietnam War protests, or the dismissal of the Whitlam Government. The Hilton Bombing was part of that scene. Of course there was the usual outbreak of nutters, all claiming to either be the bomber or to know the bomber. If you were out protesting in the seventies you will certainly enjoy this book.

Awfully pleased that Magda Szubanski’s Reckoning: A Memoir has won the NSW Premier’s Award for Non Fiction. It is beautifully written. Was her Polish father really an assassin (as he called himself)?

I recently read the latest novel from Marion Halligan called Goodbye Sweetheart. She has more than twenty to her credit and many of them have won awards or been short-listed for awards. All are eminently readable and display a positive view of the world. Goodbye Sweetheart is about a prominent lawyer in Canberra who dies suddenly while swimming in the hotel pool. And then… we have separate chapters about the various people who loved him. This could be called an Entertainment with a capital E! Such fun. Everyone has their own life to get on with but Marion tells us delightful details. Nothing is missed. Enjoy.

Grantchester has finished on TV but there is a new, fifth episode due soon in the series written by James Runcie (which seems a very appropriate name). It will be Sydney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation. Earlier titles are Sydney Chambers and the Perils of the Night; Sydney Chambers and the Problem of Evil; Sydney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins; and Sydney Chambers and the Shadow of Death.

I am looking forward to reading Michael Wilding’s new memoir called, appropriately, Growing Wild. Such good reviews we ran out of stock but good to see it's come back in.

Keep well,


Since 1968 ~ Abbey's 131 York Street Sydney ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers