Saturday, 2 June 2018

Notes from Eve Abbey • June 2018

 We're 50 this year!

The National Library of Australia in Canberra has a fascinating exhibition on until July 28th. It is called 1968: Changing Times. All about that exciting year when so many important things were happening throughout the world. And what else was happening in 1968? Well in Sydney, the first Abbey’s Bookshop opened at 115 Pitt Street. We’ve had all sorts of bookshops over the past 50 years. In fact, we’ve had 10 small bookshops including City Lights Bookshop, Paddington Penguin Bookshop, a Penguin Bookshop in Rowe Street, Henry Lawson’s Bookshop and Bargain BookshopStill here are Abbey’s Bookshop, Language Book Centre and Galaxy Bookshop, all now together on two floors at 131 York Street. 

On the relevant birthdays, we gave customers 21%, 25% and 30% discount, but at forty years that got a bit difficult so we decided to publish a small book called Forty Memories. (Ed. – And keep your eyes peeled for our '50% OFF!' specials throughout 2018)

Peter Carey

If you were not a customer then and would like to indulgein some bookshop nostalgia, you can find Forty Memories on our website (just click on About Us on our homepage). 80 pages in total but you can just dip in and read as much as you like. The first 19 pages by me describe the history of the bookshop and its various addresses, then four pages from our dearly beloved Peter Milne about his special interest in Crime fiction, then 43 pages of memories about shopping at Abbeys written by customers, family and staff, including photographs. Finally there are lists of Forty Favourite Books as chosen by Eve Abbey, Jean Abbey, Ann Leahy, Lindy Jones, Greg Waldron and Peter Milne. It is very interesting to look at these choices ten years later.

We no longer mail out the monthly Abbey’s Advocate or Crime Chronicle newsletters. Instead you can subscribe for free to receive these by email (from the link at the top of our homepage). You will receive a monthly listing of New Titles and Specials, plus personal reviews from our booksellers, as well as quick access to our amazing database. Browsing through Abbey’s website is almost like the Saturday papers turning up on your doorstep every day. You can check for recent prize-winners and click for immediate access to Galaxy or Language Book Centre databases or check on particular publishers.

A box on the homepage allows you to quickly see all the Penguin Black Classics – all 658 in total and 371 currently in stock on our shelves. You can see photographs and videos of lots of local (and some overseas) authors taken when they visited Abbey’s to sign their latest books. Plus all sorts of current information. If it all gets too much, just come and visit us in-store instead.

Language Book Centre’s homepage is currently promoting A 18ans l’impossible: Mon Journal de Mai 68 (At 18 We Demand the Impossible: My Diary of May 68), set in Paris at the time of the 1968 university protests. This is the fictional diary of 18-year-old Madeleine, just beginning her studies at the Sorbonne, followed by historical notes on this important moment in French history. The author Adeline Regnault didn’t have far to travel for her author photo in front of the shop - she works upstairs in Language Book Centre.

Gail Jones is one of Australia’s finest writers, yet not as well-known as she should be. Her books are beautifully written, serious and always interesting. Her new book The Death of Noah Glass might be called a bit of a mystery. Certainly there is anxiety throughout the book about how Noah died, but all the loose ends are tied up neatly. Noah is an elderly art historian who has been in Palermo studying his favourite painter, Piero della Francesa. He becomes romantically involved with a Professoressa who has a rather stupid plan to steal a sculpture. “Everyone does it here,” she declares. On his return to Sydney, Noah dies in the not-much-used swimming pool of his apartment. Middle-aged son Martin, an artist, sets out for Palermo to discover why and eventually his academic sister, Evie, also reaches Palermo. There is a good deal of philosophising and dissecting of paintings, cathedrals and memories. Her earlier books include Sorry, Dreams of Speaking, Five Bells and the recent admired A Guide to Berlin, which is certainly not a travel guide.

That great American writer, Philip Roth, died in May. His books include The Plot Against America (too prescient for words!), The Human Stain, The Ghost Writer, American Pastoral, Goodbye Columbus and Portnoy’s Complaint which is, unfortunately, his most famous book. Treat yourself and read any one of his wonderful books.

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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