Books in Print

independent Australian bookselling since 1988

26 Aug 2015

BiP eNews

Some books we have enjoyed recently...

The Simple Act of Reading
Debra Adelaide (ed)
June 2015 | Vintage | $29.99pb

Debra Adelaide has edited a charming collection of writers’ memories of their childhood reading. David Malouf, Carrie Tiffany, Joan London, Gabrielle Carey, Andy Griffiths and others wander down their own individual memory lanes, sharing their love of reading and its influence on their own writing. Books of this kind are fun as they remind us of our own past reading and help to unearth much that we had forgotten.
BiP guest review by Brendan Strauch
Australian Confederates: How 42 Australians joined the rebel cause and fired the last shot in the American Civil War
Terry Smyth
Aug 2015 | Ebury | $34.99pb

A young lad is rescued from a rushing creek in Northern Victoria. His rescuer is feted and goes on to write his own history in colonial Australia. Did a famous Victorian parliamentarian not attend the Melbourne Club dinner for visiting rebel officers, and if so, why not? Where does the last stitch go in the burial shroud of a sailor?

These anecdotes form a small but fascinating part of this eminently readable insight into the political machinations, social history and the international diplomatic storm surrounding the visit to Melbourne of the Confederate raider CSS Shenandoah in the summer of 1865. How did forty-two Australians sail off into history to participate in one of the defining moments in the history of the United States? Victoria was a British colonial outpost and was subject to the laws of the mother country, but in the state of the Eureka rebellion the confederate cause found sympathy, not necessarily on the question of slavery but rather in a desire for sovereignty and independence. Australian Confederates is an intriguing tale of how, in a world devoid of convenient communication, the Civil War continued for the captain and crew of the CSS Shenandoah long past the surrender of the southern rebel states and how, in the year of its 150th anniversary, there exists this little-known link between the United States and Australia.
A Little Life
Hanya Yanagihara
May 2015 | Picador | $32.99pb
Long-listed for the 2015 Man Booker Prize, A Little Life is a work of extraordinary intelligence and heart, a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark and haunting examination of the tyranny of experience and memory.

Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting and profoundly moving book in many a season. Hanya Yanagihara’s novel is an epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century that goes into some of the darkest places fiction has ever travelled and yet somehow improbably breaks through into the light. When four graduates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they are broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he will not only be unable to overcome, but that will define his life forever. This book has become a staff favourite.
The Blue Guitar
John Banville
August 2015 | Vintage | $32.99pb

Oliver Orme used to be a painter, well-known and well-rewarded, but the muse has deserted him. He is also, as he confesses, a thief; he does not steal for gain, but for the thrill of possession, the need to capture and fix the world around him. His worst theft is Polly, the wife of his friend Marcus, with whom he has had an affair. When the affair is discovered, Oliver hides himself away in his childhood home and from here he tells the story of a year, from one autumn to the next.

In his delineation of Oliver, John Banville has created one of the most memorable characters in recent fiction: compelling yet weak, desperate for love and yet inclined towards acts of terrible mischief. Set in a reimagined Ireland that is both familiar and deeply unsettling, The Blue Guitar reveals a life haunted by the desire to possess and always aware of the frailty of the human heart.

A Guide to Berlin
Gail Jones
Aug 2015 | Vintage | $32.99pb       **BiP price $27.99

A Guide to Berlin' is the name of a short story written by Vladimir Nabokov in 1925, when he was a young man of 26, living in Berlin.

A group of six international travellers, two Italians, two Japanese, an American and an Australian, meet in empty apartments in Berlin to share stories and memories. Each is enthralled in some way to the work of Vladimir Nabokov, and each is finding their way in deep winter in a haunted city. A moment of devastating violence shatters the group, and changes the direction of everyone's story. Brave and brilliant, A Guide to Berlin traces the strength and fragility of our connections through biographies and secrets.


Young adult fiction

Freedom Ride

Sue Lawson
July 2015 | Walker Books | $17.95pb

I was born in 1955; Freedom Ride is set in 1965. It concerns the Freedom Ride, headed by Charles Perkins, which trekked around country Victoria to ascertain the living conditions of Aborigines. The situation of Aborigines at the time was nothing short of shameful and hard to credit from this distance in 2015. However, as a glance at any sports page in a newspaper in recent times will show, not a lot has changed. This gripping story is told through the eyes of teenage Robbie (a little like Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, if you will) and I was alternately shamed and riveted by it. Robbie knows bad things happen in Walgaree. But it's nothing to do with him. That's just the way the Aborigines have always been treated. In the summer of 1965 racial tensions in the town are at boiling point, and something headed Walgaree's way will blow things apart. It's time for Robbie to take a stand. Nothing will ever be the same.


Fiona Wood
Aug 2015 | Macmillan | $19.99pb

Some novelists have a certain way of creating characters and stories that stay with you for days, even weeks after you have finished reading. For us, Fiona Wood is one of those rare and gifted writers. In her latest book, Cloudwish, Fiona revisits characters we met, sometimes fleetingly, in her previous, award-winning books Six Impossible Things and Wildlife. Cloudwish is a moving, insightful and beautifully written story with explorations of the migrant experience and, ultimately, what it means to love, at its core. Cath and Lucy absolutely adored this book for young adults.

15 Aug 2015

The 65-Storey Treehouse

At long last, the wait is over: the fifth volume of the phenomenon that is Andy Griffths and Terry Denton’s ever-expanding Treehouse series in now in stock!

Andy and Terry’s amazing 65-Storey Treehouse has a pet-grooming salon, a birthday room where it’s always your birthday (even when it’s not), a room full of exploding eyeballs, a lollipop shop, a quicksand pit, an ant farm, a time machine and Tree-NN: a 24-hour-a-day TV news centre keeping you up to date with all the latest treehouse news, current events and gossip.

So, what are you waiting for? Come on up and join in the fun!

6 Aug 2015

BiP eNews

Circling the Sun
Paula McLain
July 2015 | Virago | $29.99pb

The author of The Paris Wife takes readers to the heart of another true story: set in 1920s colonial Kenya, Circling the Sun is about an unforgettable woman who lived by nobody's rules but her own. As a young girl, Beryl Markham was brought to Kenya from Britain by parents dreaming of a new life. For her mother the dream quickly turned sour and she returned home. Beryl was brought up by her father, who switched between indulgence and heavy-handed authority, allowing her first to run wild on their farm, then incarcerating her in the classroom. The scourge of governesses and a serial absconder from boarding school, by the age of sixteen Beryl had been catapulted into a disastrous marriage - but it was in facing up to this reality that she took charge of her own destiny. Scandalizing high society with her errant behaviour, she left her husband and became the first woman ever to hold a professional racehorse trainer's licence. After falling in with the notoriously hedonistic and gin-soaked Happy Valley set, Beryl soon became embroiled in a complex love triangle with the writer Karen Blixen and big game-hunter Denys Finch Hatton (immortalized in Blixen's memoir Out of Africa). It was this unhappy affair which set tragedy in motion, while awakening Beryl to her truest self, and to her fate: to fly.

BiP staff review by Christine

Tim Griffiths
July 2015 | Allen & Unwin | $29.99pb

Well, what a ride, courtesy of Frank Hurley, photographer-extraordinaire and intrepid adventurer. You know the kind – traipsing through Antarctica with Douglas Mawson in sandshoes and a heavy coat and then, for some light relief, deciding to document the grinding terror that was the Western Front in 1917. Frank Hurley’s life and work have been well documented but Tim Griffiths has imagined his protagonist well, sticking closely to the truth and injecting a big dose of derring-do. If nothing else, Endurance is a great book for winter in Melbourne – it makes you feel that perhaps it is not that cold here after all!

BiP staff review by Christine

Flesh Wounds
Richard Glover
Sept 2015 | ABC Books | $29.99pb

Sydney radio presenter and journalist Richard Glover was born into what we might now call a dysfunctional family. His mother concocted a variety of stories about her upbringing, always making it better than it was. His father was a drinker, always searching for happiness after his divorce, with wives, boats and expensive possessions. Richard was an afterthought and never knew his extended family. Conversational and self-effacing in tone, Flesh Wounds follows Richard’s life and search for a family and sense of self. It is a warm, engaging and satisfying book.

BiP staff review by Christine

Long Bay
Eleanor Limprecht
Aug 2015 | Sleepers | $24.95pb

I picked this book up because of its intriguing cover and was not disappointed. The novel is based on Rebecca Sinclair, who was born into poverty in Sydney in 1885. She learned dressmaking skills at her widowed mother’s knee, unknowingly married a bigamist and ended up in Long Bay Women’s Reformatory after a short-lived career as an abortionist. The author has researched her subject thoroughly and this results in a satisfying and fascinating story. In this case you can judge a book by its cover.