Things To Look Forward To 

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

The cover of the September Gleaner...

 - Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The cover of the September Gleaner is a proud reminder of our commitment to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, and its annual fundraiser 'Indigenous Literacy Day', on the first Wednesday in September. This is the day that the book industry, through hundreds of publishers and booksellers, pledges a percentage of its business to be donated to the Foundation. And across the country many hundreds of schools, workplaces, book clubs, and individuals commit to raising funds via 'great book swaps' and other interesting and imaginative ways to support the cause.

This time last year I had just returned from Melville Island One (the largest of the Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin in the East Timor Sea), where I was lucky to join some inspirational writers and volunteers from the industry taking workshops with the local kids in a few far-flung communities. This wonderful experience encapsulated the core of the ILF's objectives: providing lots of carefully chosen books for free to remote communities where literacy rates and reading levels are way below an acceptable level, connecting to communities and cementing relationships based on trust, so that workshops to encourage writing and sharing culture can be a positive experience.

I'm delighted to say that, twelve months on, not only has a very productive follow up visit just concluded, but some of the teenage students from the Tiwi College who have written and illustrated a terrific children's book will be part of ILD's keynote event at the Opera House on September 3rd. As I said, we're proud of the progress the ILF Foundation has made in fulfilling the mandate of the Indigenous Literacy Project since ILP started less than ten years ago—hundreds of thousands of books to more than 200 remote communities, made possible by generous donation. Please help. Visit the website www.ilf.org.au and donate. And don't forget to reserve the date Wednesday 29th October, if you are at all inclined to enjoy literary trivia nights. The wildly popular annual ILF Trivia fundraiser will take place at the Paddington RSL. It's great fun. Last year it booked out in days, so if you'd like to come, or to book a table, email me at david@gleebooks.com.au and I'll give you all the details.

It's the time of year that publishers pull out the big ones, to prepare for the Christmas and holiday market. So my bedside table sports a messy pile of treasures of books coming out in October and November. First I'm eager to get at Pete Carey's new book, Amnesia. I've always admired Carey's insistence on never writing the same book twice, and don't know what to expect, but I know it will be original and challenging. From a radically different fictional arena, Marilynne Robinson's Lila awaits. It was more than twenty years after Housekeeping that Gilead, a masterpiece of its type, was published, to be followed some years later by Home, another work of quiet, intense beauty. And just to show how broad that arena is, Richard Ford's Let Me be Frank with You will revisit the irresistible world of Frank Bascombe's Independence Day trilogy. For those with a yen for non-fiction, Vincent Deary's How to Live looks a seriously interesting exploration of how we've got to where we are in the modern world, and how we might best survive. Finally, there is a fabulous new Don Watson book The Bush, a work of memoir, travel writing, and history, that I know will be a deeply engaging and important exploration of our relationship with the bush.

Meantime, I've just finished a fabulous new collection of tales—Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood. I'm amazed at how fresh, how wicked and beautifully macabre these tales are. So sharply observed, so inventive, so clever and clear-eyed, so wise and witty, and very funny. Whatever you think of short stories as a genre (and I happen to love them), don't miss this collection. It's a reminder of just what a wonderful writer she has been, through nearly forty books in forty years.