Monday 5 June 2017

Notes from Eve Abbey ~ June 2017

Robert Dessaix's new book, The Pleasures of Leisure, is sure to please his many fans. It is rather like having a desultory conversation with a witty friend about life and philosophy in a rather nice place. There are plenty of allusions and you will feel good that you recognise them. His voice comes through clear, honest and personal. He suggests you should cultivate a talent to just loaf about. A pleasure indeed.

My favourite amongst Robert’s other books is A Mother’s Disgrace, which is a classic of Australian autobiography, while other pieces include Night Letters, As I Was Saying, and What Days are For. July will see new paperback editions of Arabesques: A Tale of Double Lives and Twilight of Love: Travels with Turgenev and Corfu: A Novel.

Arabesques by Robert Dessaix Corfu: A Novel by Robert Dessaix

Have you realised that Donna Leon's latest book is out now? I have not missed a single title and this is number twenty six. It is called Earthly Remains. She has been edging towards this subject for some time, showing her concern about what is happening to the Venetian lagoons. Commissario Brunetti too is showing signs of stress and takes off to spend time alone on a tiny island in the laguna, reading and rowing with an old fisherman who has a secret past.

Earthly Remains by Donna Leon

Did you enjoy My Name is Lucy Barton by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout? If so, you must now read Anything Is Possible which takes us on a tour around the various relatives and fellow residents of Amash, Illinois. When I first looked at the chapter headings I thought this might be a collection of short stories. In a way it is as each character gets their place in the sun. Lucy Barton, now a famous writer in New York, comes home for a visit which is a good excuse for memories to be brought out and retold. Very satisfying.

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

If you are new to Elizabeth Strout please read My Name is Lucy Barton before you read this latest one. The other titles are Olive Kitteridge, The Burgess Boys, Amy & Isabelle and Abide with Me. Upstairs in Language Book Centre you can find Mi Chiamo Lucy Barton. Remember if the stairs are a problem for you please ask one of our booksellers to show you the lift in the foyer.

I am admirer of the work of writer and historian Mark Dapin. He has written numerous things including a crime thriller, King of the Cross and a lovely story called Spirit House, set in Bondi, about a boy’s relationship with his Jewish grandfather who had been a prisoner of war with the Japanese. Recently he has been the editor for From the Trenches: Best Anzac Writing of World War One and the The Penguin Book of Australian War Writing while The Nasho’s War: Australian National Servicemen in Vietnam won several awards. He has now been commissioned to produce a splendid book Jewish Anzacs: Jews in the Australian Military, 435 pages including photographs and index.

It has a Memorial Roll of all those who served from the Boer War to Vietnam and Afghanistan including an Honour Roll of those who made the supreme sacrifice. For the Jewish faith the act of Remembrance (zachor) is an important duty so I am sure this book will be coveted by many families. Despite the title Mark apologises that Anzacs from New Zealand are not included but this work is being done now.

Did you watch a series on SBS about Scottish Manor Houses? I think the Scottish Tourist Board must have had a hand in this? I was especially interested to see the huge difference in visitor numbers when the The Da Vinci Code became such a huge bestseller. From just a few visitors to the Rosslyn Chapel suddenly hundreds were turning up each day. So I must remind you about the controversial original work published by Leigh, Baigent and Lincoln called The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail.

There was a court case about this – the authors claiming Dan Brown had used their book as a basis for his story. Interestingly both titles were issued by the same publisher. You can get the French edition of Da Vinci Code upstairs at Language Book Centre.

There is a King Arthur film starting now so I want to remind you of T. H. White’s famous epic The Once and Future King. 

Historical fantasy writer Mary Stewart also wrote the four book Merlin series beginning with The Crystal Cave, then The Hollow Hills, The Wicked Day and The Last Enchantment. Some of these might be out of print.

I am not a great fan of performance art but despite this I cannot miss a word of The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose which has recently won both the Premier’s Award for Fiction and the Stella Prize. The story revolves around a real event, one of Marina Abramovic’s famous events. This time it is called 'The Artist is Present' and is staged in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Marina sat for seventy five days at a small table with one chair opposite. No talking – just meeting of eyes. It became the hit of the town – people queued to sit and art circles were agog.

Amongst the onlookers there is a famous composer, an art teacher from the south, the ghost of Marina’s mother and another ghostly commentator. Art lovers will not miss this and people like me who don’t get Performance Art will discover a thing or two. Bravo Heather Rose who has written other novels as well as books for primary age children under the name of Angelica Banks (which she uses when she writes with Danielle Wood). A writer not yet receiving the applause she deserves.

Birders will be all agog! There is a new Australian Bird Guide, published by CSIRO and with six authors and illustrators: Menkhorst, Rogers, Clarke, Davies, Marsaka and Franklin. According to Robyn Williams on the Science Show, who already has two other guides, this is a terrific achievement – ten years in the making. There are a few more species and digital imaging has allowed the illustrators to be even more precise and there is a huge digital database. Our resident birder Lindy Jones is probably fondling a copy right now.

Keep well,


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

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

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