Things To Look Forward To 

David Gaunt has owned Gleebooks with partner Roger Mackell since 1976.

June 2018

Gleebooks Bookshop - Monday, May 28, 2018
I’m on holidays as you read this, travelling,  relaxing and recuperating after a hectic Sydney Writers’ Festival. The outstanding memory most people might keep of this year’s Festival at its new venue, Carriageworks, is of life imitating art in the ‘outing’ of one guest by another very much in, the spirit of ‘Power’, the Festival’s theme. My memories are more mundane: counting the books, and the boxes, trying not to lose track of the books, getting to places on time, and hoping that no one trips over a lead and disconnects computers, tills, and eftpos machines. Anyway, as far as I could tell, the change of venue, due to the renovation of the Walsh Bay wharves, was a success—and we found Carriageworks, and our fresh new industrial-chic shop, a positive experience. I hope that the many Gleebooks customers we saw there found likewise, and hope to bump into you there next year. 

While exploring Bohemian Europe I’ll weigh myself down (yes, I’ve got an Ipad, but no e-books for this old-timer) with a few exciting upcoming releases. I’m some way through Stephanie Bishop’s Man Out of Time (publishing in September), a profoundly moving novel about family relationship (daughter/father) and particularly the way in which destructive behaviour can impact, internally and externally. Her language is as refined and exact as the deeply absorbing subject matter. Absolutely recommended. 

I also have advance copies of the new book by Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent (a terrific historical novel from 2016, well worth reading). The title Melmoth is a direct nod to a now obscure early 19th century Gothic novel, Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin (forever ago it was on my Sydney Uni reading list). With the ‘discovery of a strange manuscript filled with testimonies from the darkest chapters of human history, which all record sightings of a tall, silent woman in black, with unblinking eyes and bleeding feet: Melmoth, the loneliest being in the world’ at its heart, it looks an intriguing, and beguiling prospect (publishing in October). And third leg of my fiction trifecta will be Barbara Kingsolver’s history of two families occupying the same house a century apart, Unsheltered (October). Can’t wait.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with reflections on a trio of non-fiction June releases. I’ve already mentioned Phillipa McGuinness’ fascinating memoir The Year Everything Changed: 2001. This is a blend of the personal and the historical. It’s at once reflective, an eye-opener (it’s amazing just how much, outside of the day that changed the world, happened in 2001), and very moving. And Simon Winchester is up to his usual standard of detailed examination and historical research in Exactly: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World. It’s a very readable history of how the pioneers of precision in engineering changed their own, and our world. Not only does it show our reliance on precision in invention and design, it also goes to the crux of the question of how the technological and the natural can co-exist. Lastly, can I commend Waiting for Elijah by Kate Wild. This is the first book from a writer of long experience as an investigative journalist at the ABC. Wild brings those forensic skills, and great compassion to the story of  the shooting of the mentally ill 24 year-old Elijah Holcombe by a policeman in Armidale in 2009. Writing the book has been a six year journey for Wild, and she is engaged and compelling in every aspect of her account, especially in her sympathy for the bereaved family. There’s little question that this is yet another death of a mentally ill person which didn’t have to happen, but Wild covers so much, with such care and deep sensitivity, that we are left in no doubt that everyone, us included, is a victim of a an imperfect health and policing system. 

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