Thursday, 13 December 2018

Notes from Eve Abbey • December 2018

 We're 50 this year!

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone. I hope all goes well for you and that Abbey’s will see another Fifty Years contributing to the culture in Sydney.

Consider this new big book on an everlasting topic. It is Rome: Eternal City by Ferdinand Addis who studied Classics at Oxford and was a film-maker and journalist before he decided to be a historian. He chooses significant moments in Rome’s 3000 years of history and links these with a lively narrative so that he presents a history of Rome for a new generation of readers. When I tell you that the final scene is the opening of Fellini’s movie La Dolce Vita in1960 you will see he writes about both High Art and Low Life.

Put aside (for now) Edward Gibbons’ famous Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, available in Penguin Classics in various volumes or the 1 volume Abridgement. Addis' book is an easier companion if you are planning to visit the exhibition Rome and Empire in Canberra at the National Museum, which is on until 3rd February 2019. There is also an audio version of the Gibbon abridgement of Decline and Fall read by David Timson.

I think there are still fans around for the George Johnston and Charmian Clift saga. They will like a new book by Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell. It is called Half the Perfect World: Writers, Dreamers and Drifters on Hydra, 1955-1964. Enjoy - and you can still buy a copy of My Brother Jack or Charmian Clift’s Mermaids Singing & Peel Me a Lotus at Abbey’s.

The Zig at Abbey's

I hope you are able to visit the shop, which is near the Town Hall, during the holidays. There are so many interesting books for you to choose from, not just the latest best sellers. Remember, if you are looking at Abbey’s lively database online, that you can choose to show only those books currently in stock if you click down the side.

Abbey's shopfront October 2018

Upstairs on the First Floor, Language Book Centre has DVD’s and both fiction and non-fiction in other languages as well as the usual 'teach yourself' text books. GALAXY Bookshop, also upstairs has an amazing array of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Paranormal Romance. They also have lots of puzzles, games, cards and POP! figurines. Ask a bookseller for advice if you are not a Sci-Fi reader yourself. There’s a lift in the foyer if you want to avoid the stairs.

Stormtrooper guards the stairway entrance to GALAXY

Abbey's Summer Reading 2018 Catalogue

Enjoy yourself, make book-buying your best good deed at Christmas,

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

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Give Literacy this Christmas • Indigenous Literacy Foundation

 We're 50 this year!

Can you imagine your life without the pleasure of being able to read? Without being able to delve into a book and take in stories, ideas and knowledge outside of your own experience?

"It’s hard to believe but before we worked with the ILF, books were non-existent in the region. Often, the only translated text available is the Ngaanyatjarra Bible – and families aren’t necessarily going to sit down with their children and read that to develop pre-literacy skills. Without the support of the ILF we wouldn’t be able to translate books or even have the books in our classroom or children’s homes." Kiara Jones

Kiara is the Early Learning Educator at Blackstone and Jameson Communities in the Ngaanyatjarraku Shire in Western Australia. These communities are extremely remote, approximately 900 kilometres from Alice Springs and about 1,500 kilometres from Perth.

Happy learners

This Christmas, with your help, we aim to donate $5,000 to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

We now need only 1,000 more customers to give $2 each.

To make it easy, you can donate online at or donate in-store at 131 York Street, Sydney - next to QVB.

All those $2 donations will add up fast!

Young readers

ILF Volunteers

A big THANK YOU to all of you who have already donated.

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

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Monday, 12 November 2018

Notes from Eve Abbey • November 2018

 We're 50 this year!

Rick Morton, journalist on The Australianhas written a searing autobiography about his childhood on an enormous pastoral station in far-west Queensland. Not easy reading but leavened by some very amusing insights.

His violent and tyrannical grandfather passed on his genes throughout the family. Morton now says he is a “middle-class man in a poor boy’s body”. If you want to understand what it is like to be poor in this country read this. It is called One Hundred Years of Dirt.

It is 250 years since Captain Cook set sail from England to enter the Pacific. There is a book which is a companion piece to a TV programme on Foxtel I think. It is called The Pacific in the Wake of Captain Cook with Sam Neill and written by Meaghan Wilson Anastasios.

As I was born in New Zealand and went to a country school with many Maori friends I especially enjoyed the first section. I even have a copy of Cook’s famous map of New Zealand. I might put it up in the shop. It is a very readable book with informative remarks from interested people especially displayed throughout the text as well as excellent colour photographs.

There is a new book from Clare Wright who wrote The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka about the women involved in that famous episode. This new, much larger, book is called You Daughters of Freedom: The Australians Who Won The Vote and Inspired the World. Clare points out that World War I overshadowed the fame of Australia as a progressive reformist nation.

This new book is about the well-travelled activists such as Vida Goldstein, Nellie Martel, Dora Montefiore, Muriel Matters and Dora Meeson-Coates (who painted the famed banner carried in the British Suffragettes’ enormous marches in 1908 and 1911). These Australian women were amongst the leaders in the International movement for votes for women.

Both books are very readable. Here is an historian who can tell a good story!

Clare Wright

Robyn Williams, of ABC Radio's The Science Show fame, has just written his autobiography and given it the title Turmoil: Letters from the Brink. Like many of us in the later stages of interesting lives he wonders where the world is heading.

Many of his tales fall into line with the recent upheaval at ABC where management by email or cartoon seemed to have gained the upperhand. He enthusiastically sings the praises of young scientists in Australia and thinks he has had a very lucky life.

You will enjoy, as I did, some stories about famous scientists. The Science Show is on Radio National on Saturday at noon and repeated on Wednesday. Don’t miss it. Thank you Robyn and friends.

Turmoil: Letters from the Brink by Robyn Williams

I hope you pick up a copy of Abbey’s Christmas catalogue for 2018 which is in-store now. Inside the front cover there is a nice photograph of Abbey’s when we were in the Queen Victoria Building in George Street. Do you remember that comfortable shop? I think we have customers today who came along there with their parents. That was fifty years ago!

Abbey's on George Street in the QVB

Abbey's Summer Reading 2018 Catalogue

Keep well,

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

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Friday, 5 October 2018

Notes from Eve Abbey • October 2018

 We're 50 this year!

I’ve been reading some really good novels, not the latest releases, most especially Ruth Park’s The Harp in the South. What a great writer! You can get Harp in the South at a good price as a Popular Penguin, but the typeface is old fashioned or you can choose The Harp In the South Novels which includes Missus, Harp in the South and Poor Man’s Orange. I’m sure if you have been to the Sydney Theatre Company production you will want to fill it all in. Pure enjoyment.

Photo credit: Daniel Boud

The Harp In The South: Popular Penguins by Ruth Park The Harp In The South Trilogy by Ruth Park

I was also given Steven Carroll’s latest version of T.S.Eliot’s private life in A New England Affair. Steven has made two previous imaginings in The Lost Life or in A World of Other People. All wonderful books. This latest one is so very sad it was hard to read.

I admire greatly the writing of Steven Carroll so must remind you again of the Glenroy series about a suburban family in Melbourne beginning in the Fifties. There are five novels now – the first is The Art of the Engine Driver, so check them out at Abbey’s or in your library. Unique style. Great writing.

A New England Affair by Steven Carroll The Art of the Engine Driver by Steven Carroll
The Gift of Speed by Steven Carroll The Time We Have Taken by Steven Carroll
Spirit of Progress by Steven Carroll Forever Young by Steven Carroll

Finally I have also enjoyed an expanded edition, of Anthony Hill’s Captain Cook’s Apprentice. It is 250 years since Cook’s momentous voyage into the Pacific , so important to us, so it is a good time to publish the expanded edition of this ripping novel. Isaac Manley, one of the servant boys on board was promoted to Midshipman and later became an Admiral so there will be lots to learn for anyone dreaming of a life at sea – both good and bad.

Captain Cook's Apprentice by Anthony Hill

Keep well,

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

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Notes from Eve Abbey • September 2018

 We're 50 this year!

I am a great fan of the wonderful illustrated books of Shaun Tan. His latest is called Cicada, a simple story everyone can understand. It will appeal especially to anyone feeling under-appreciated, but every reader will enjoy it!

I see some excellent reviews for the third volume of Philip Dwyer’s biography of Napoleon. It is called Napoleon: Passion, Death and Resurrection and is very readable. If you haven’t already read Anne Whitehead’s Betsy and the Emperor: The True Story of Napoleon, a Pretty Girl, a Regency Rake and a Colonial Australian Misadventure, add this to your purchase as well. A really good story about Napoleon’s time on St Helena.

V S Naipaul, one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, died in August. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001, as well as the 1971 Booker Prize for In a Free State, which was also nominated for the recent Golden Man Booker.

If you find some recent fiction dissatisfying, try one of his other novels such as The Enigma of Arrival or A House for Mr Biswas. For a really perceptive view of India, look in Travel Literature for the views of this special Indian born in Trinidad. Three separate visits to India - An Area of Darkness, A Wounded Civilisation and A Million Mutinies Now - are collected in one volume under the title India.

In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul The Enigma of Arrival by V. S. Naipaul
A House For Mr Biswas by V. S. Naipaul In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul

I was especially pleased to hear the interview on ABC Radio’s The Science Show with scientific journalist Mark Lynas. His new book is called Seeds of Science: Why We Got it So Wrong on GMOs. Not before time. I used to worry about Plant Patent Rights.

Seeds of Science: Why We Got it So Wrong on GMOs by Mark Lynas

Have you heard about a book by Amor Towles called A Gentleman in Moscow? This is one of those very stylish books which becomes a secret bestseller. Several people recommended it to me and so it goes on.

Just after the revolution, Count Alexander Rostov is declared by the Kremlin to be an unrepentant aristocrat and is sentenced to live for life in the Hotel Metropol. Not in his usual luxurious suite, but in an attic, a very tiny attic. But the count is an educated, erudite gentleman and is determined to live a life of purpose.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

You will not want to read this quickly. You should take the time to appreciate the style, to reflect upon the adventures of the characters and to remember the historical events he mentions in passing, or the many literary references. You will pause before reading the next meaningful vignette. Terrific. It is called a 'fairy tale' and I suppose it is because all turns out well, but there are some anxious moments. Enjoy.

Amor Towles’ previous novel, Rules of Civility, is another fairy tale about two wisecracking gals from the mid-west making their way in 1930s New York. It is now on its way to become another bestseller. Fun ahead. What will he write next?

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Keep well,

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

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Friday, 31 August 2018

Peter Corris, Sydney, and a man called Cliff

 We're 50 this year!

What would Australian crime writing be like if Peter Corris hadn't given us Cliff Hardy? If Peter Corris hadn't persisted for four years to get the first Cliff Hardy novel (The Dying Trade) published?

Over more than three decades and forty two Hardy novels later, the crime fiction scene in Australia has changed, but it would not perhaps be as strong as it is without the hard-bitten private investigator and his creator. Indeed, Corris was often described as the godfather of Australian crime, and when you think about it, there is no other person who could wear that description so aptly.

Hardy is the quintessential larrikin, with a quick eye and a colourful turn of phrase. His method of solving crime was not straight-forward; often it seemed as if he was pouring petrol on a fire to force the perpetrators into giving themselves away. One of the pleasures in reading the novels he featured in, was not just the recognisable 'Australianess' but also the recognisable 'Sydney-ness.' Over the years the city and its society changed, but there was Cliff, with his cigarettes and booze and talent for attracting trouble, observing it all and reflecting back to the reader a gritty moll of a city with its corrupt and undeniable beauty.

Silent Kill: Cliff Hardy #38 Gun Control: Cliff Hardy #40

Abbey's customers have always been loyal devotees of Hardy, and each new title was greeted with delight and anticipation - what was Hardy getting up to now? We have generally stocked an extensive range of Hardy novels, and they are consistent sellers - once discovered by a new reader, the vivid descriptions and twisty storylines prove addictive!

Vale Peter Corris; your fans will mourn you but be forever grateful you turned your vast talents to creating such a marvellous character and in doing so, changing the landscape of Australian crime writing.

Lindy Jones

Open File: Cliff Hardy #32 The Coast Road: Cliff Hardy #27
The Dunbar Case: Cliff Hardy #37 Win, Lose or Draw: Cliff Hardy #42

Former Manager at Abbey’s, Ann Leahy shared her anecdote of Peter:

“We asked him to come to the opening of Hunter St Books in Newcastle and he came. The audience begged him to set a Cliff Hardy novel in Newcastle. He did. What a legend and a lovely man.”

Peter was also a regular columnist for The Newtown Review of Books, which Abbey's has a long association with, run by Peter's wife, Jean Bedford, and Linda Funnell. Everyone at Abbey's sends their well wishes for Jean and her family.

Peter Corris in Newtown, Sydney

  1. The Dying Trade (1980)
  2. White Meat (1981)
  3. The Marvellous Boy (1982)
  4. The Empty Beach (1983)
  5. Heroin Annie: Cliff Hardy cases (1984)
  6. Make Me Rich (1985)
  7. The Big Drop: Cliff Hardy cases (1985)
  8. The Greenwich Apartments (1986)
  9. Deal Me Out (1986)
  10. The January Zone (1987)
  11. Man in the Shadows: Cliff Hardy cases (1988)
  12. O'Fear (1990)
  13. Wet Graves (1991)
  14. Aftershock (1992)
  15. Beware of the Dog (1992)
  16. Burn: Cliff Hardy cases (1993)
  17. Matrimonial Causes (1993)
  18. Casino (1994)
  19. The Washington Club (1997)
  20. Forget Me if You Can: Cliff Hardy cases (1997)
  21. The Reward (1997)
  22. The Black Prince (1998)
  23. The Other Side of Sorrow (1999)
  24. Lugarno (2001)
  25. Salt & Blood (2002)
  26. Master's Mates (2003)
  27. The Coast Road (2004)
  28. Taking Care of Business: Cliff Hardy cases (2004)
  29. Saving Bille (2005)
  30. The Undertow (2006)
  31. Appeal Denied (2007)
  32. The Big Score: Cliff Hardy cases (2007)
  33. Open File (2008)
  34. Deep Water (2009)
  35. Torn Apart (2010)
  36. Follow the Money (2011)
  37. Comeback (2012)
  38. The Dunbar Case (2013)
  39. Silent Kill (2014)
  40. Gun Control (2015)
  41. That Empty Feeling (2015)
  42. Win, Lose or Draw (2017)

Plus the audiobooks are also great to listen to:

And in closing, you might like to read this entertaining and candid interview with Peter, on the Pulp Curry blog, titled:
A sit down with the Godfather: an interview with Peter Corris.

What point did you think Cliff Hardy went from imitative to unique?

"The Empty Beach."

And that was made into a movie.

"That’s the one. Ratshit movie. Terrible film. But the money enabled me to put a deposit on a house. My stand-up comedy line is that I much preferred the house to the film."

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

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers