Things To Look Forward To 

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

October 2017

Gleebooks Bookshop - Wednesday, October 11, 2017
We closed our original bookshop down last month—a moment to ponder, after 43 years in the same location. It had become time to consolidate its stock with our other shops. It was an exciting, and arduous, process. Half of the books have been re-housed upstairs at 49 Glebe Pt Rd, and the other half is sitting in a ‘new’ second hand shop in Colliers Arcade at Blackheath, adjacent to the shop which we opened there, ten years ago next month. I was seeing it as a lot of hard work, but was delighted with how smart the books looked in their new locations. I was also hoping fervently that our old customers would follow us, and that a fresh lot who hadn’t discovered the treasure trove of fine second hand books would be delighted to the fabulous range on offer. It’s been disappointing over the years to see how much people’s awareness of the wonders of second hand book browsing and buying seem to have diminished. Fewer shops (Sydney rents have a lot to do with that), the ease of online searching for out of print titles, and the (apparent) lack of interest amongst younger shoppers in second hand books must have all played their part. Anyway, we’re not giving up on themĀ­—don’t forget that Gleebooks began as second hand booksellers—and we plan to increase our holdings as we put the bulk of the stock online. Don’t forget also that we offer a book search for any hard-to-get book, and we’re good at it. And to all those who remarked so thoughtfully and wistfully on the end of out time at ‘191’ can I say, on our behalf, that, yes, it is the end of an era, but it’s also the beginning of another.

Speaking of changes. We’ve been publishing the Gleaner on a monthly basis for more than 20 years. It has, it’s fair to claim, a fine reputation amongst its readers. But, as anyone vaguely aware of the media world would know, massive changes have swept through the world of print since then, and in 2018 we have decide to move to a bi-monthly printing schedule (February/March will be the first issue). Australia Post charges and delivery times (don’t start me), higher production costs, and the increased customer dependence on online information and marketing have made a monthly schedule impossible to manage, unless we were to charge more for membership and events. So we’ll do our best to keep the standard high for quality, range and depth of interest in the Gleaner.

Now, onto some books. I’m reading so much at the moment that I’m losing track, but here’s a brief response to some more new releases I’ve read:
I caught up with Dennis Glover’s fascinating novel fictionalising the life of George Orwell, The Last Man in Europe

. Glover is an academic and speechwriter, and he’s made a fine fist of imagining Orwell’s life in his first novel. The evolution of Orwell’s political thinking as he lived through the most tumultuous decades of the 20th century are richly rendered. Particularly good are the scenes form the horrors of the Spanish civil war, and Orwell’s tortured journey through treatment for advanced pulmonary tuberculosis as he battled to finish his seminal 1984 before his death.

Sarah Sentilles’ Draw Your Weapons is an amazing book. I can’t claim to have got it all, such is its range and depth of reference (but it’s definitely a book to go back to). Hard to describe, it’s a dazzling reflection or argument on peace and violence and ethical life in a troubling world. lt’s a lengthy essay of fragments or pieces or collage which connect, juxtapose and cross-reference (there are 20 pages of end notes). Unsurprisingly, it took Sentilles more that 10 years to write, but it deserves to be read and absorbed. This quote from Brecht, with which the book opens, gives you the flavour: ‘In the dark times will there also be singing? Yes, there will also be singing about the dark times’.
And on a less sombre note, please pay attention to two upcoming Australian books: Luke Slattery’s Mrs. M (publishing November), a seriously interesting novel about Elizabeth Macquarie, Lachlan’s widow. It comes out of a sleepless night’s remembrance of their joint experience in the penal colony and Elizabeth’s own reflections on a drama-filled life. I’d also point to a debut novel from Lois Murphy—Soon—an intense and powerful literary thriller, with a supernatural edge, set in a small, dying town in country WA.

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