A Pale View of Hills 

Dulwich Hill branch manager, radio personality, and book selling superstar, Morgan Smith tells us how it is.

September 2019

Gleebooks Bookshop - Monday, August 26, 2019
August and September can be rather drear months in the book trade as the publishers hold back the big guns for October and November. So we’re happy to have out in September, The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. Like her  marvellous novel, Commonwealth, this is a family drama, tracing the lives of one Philadelphian family over many years. Narrated by the son Danny, he tells of his close relationship with his beloved sister Maeve and how they’ve made an obsession out of their disappointment when their step-mother inherits the enormous house (the Dutch House) they thought would be theirs. Their mother had left when they were children, appalled by her husbands’ wealth and the ostentation of the house she goes away, we learn later, to work with charity all her life. 

Patchett is more and more being compared to Ann Tyler, because of  her incisive depiction of ordinary Americans (albeit this family is well off), their connections and lost connections, their fears and sorrows. All the characters, except the step-mother and perhaps her daughters, are likeable people, doing the best they can with the cards dealt them.  An extremely satisfying read from an author we know we can depend on for a well-written and heartfelt story.

Released this August is On Drugs by UWS academic Chris Fleming. Chris has been a customer of gleebooks since he was an undergraduate at Sydney University and for the last few years lived in Dulwich Hill, so I saw him often. On Drugs, is—I have to use the word—mind-blowing. Brilliant in its analysis, lyrical in its prose and intellectually rigorous (he can’t help himself!), this is a book about addiction, mental health and the desire so strong in Fleming to re-invent himself. ‘I loved the idea that one could simply swallow something and be transformed as a result;  the notion transfixed me.’  Fleming’s writing is superb and to use another well-worn phrase, this book is searingly honest and very powerful for it. There’s no sentimentality, no self-pity and no lecturing. A memoir not to be missed.

I’ve been banging on about children’s writers at Dulwich Hill Fair Day on Sunday September 15. The program can be found on the Inner West Council website, but I’ll dash it off here in brief. 10.30am Ursula Dubosarski (Ask Hercules Quick), 11.30am Josh Pyke (yes, the singer with a children’s book—Lights Out, Leonard), 12.30pm Lisa Siberry (The Brilliant Ideas of Lily Green), 2pm Zoe and Georgia Norton-Lodge (Elizabella books), 3pm Mark Mordue and Addison Road community centre (The Hollow Tree). See you there or be square! Morgan

 
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