A Pale View of Hills 

Dulwich Hill branch manager, radio personality, and book selling superstar, Morgan Smith tells us how it is; and our Blackheath branch sends a mountain missive.

April 2017

 - Wednesday, April 05, 2017

ON D'HILL 


News from Dulwich Hill 

Adelaide Writers’ Week was hot, hot, hot as usual, but the beautiful setting is always a pleasure and for the past several years (I believe) they have adopted a botanical theme with give-away seed packets, and screens behind the authors made of hundreds of seedling pots.
This year’s AWW was dedicated to Elizabeth Harrower and opened with a wonderful interview with her. She had come by car from Sydney with her agent Jane Novak and reminisced about driving down for the inaugural AWW in 1960 with the writer Olaf Ruhen. This took me back as Olaf was a great friend of my parents and that year he and several other authors slept on our living-room floor. I remember as a young girl listening to the jolly conversations going late into the night.
This was a very literary festival with not as many of the non-fiction and political/current affairs events we usually see at the Sydney talkfest. The most political was Thomas Frank talking about his book Listen, Liberal in which he castigates the left (and he identifies as such) for not addressing the growing problem of income inequality, which has led to the election of Trump and the rise of the right. A few sobering figures: it costs $US65,000 per annum to attend college. In the 1980s male CEOs made 40% more than the average wage-earner and in 2017 they make 370% more. Why has the right revolted against this situation and not the left?
It was a huge pleasure to meet Kim Mahood, author of Position Doubtful, a memoir about the time she’s spent in Northern Territory communities. Mahood has wonderful stories to tell and she may well be doing it for you as she is visiting Sydney in late April. Kim stays with friends (and customers of ours) in Dulwich Hill when she’s in Sydney and has kindly offered to pay us a visit. The date isn’t set yet so keep an eye out for posters and gee, I may even get it onto our Facebook page.
Rather amusingly the biggest audience of the week was for Guilia Enders and her book Gut, indicative perhaps of the average age of the attendees. Later that day a huge crowd also gathered for the mightily articulate Richard Fidler who made us all want to read his bestseller Ghost Empire.
And that’s the beauty of a writers’ festival—you come home with a long list of books to add to the must-read pile. Here’s mine: Nathan Hill’s widely praised novel of contemporary America, The Nix; the ebullient Paula Byrne’s biography of JFK’s sister Kick Kennedy; Cuban journalist, Armando Lucas Correa’s debut novel The German Girl; Alberto (sexy brainiac) Manguel’s Curiosity which made me also want to read Dante—in Italian of course; Adam Fitzgerald’s poetry collection George Washington and Sebastian Barry’s civil war novel, Days Without End (praised by no less than Dulwich staffer, Tim Gaunt); and poet Adam Aitken’s memoir and portrait of his parents’ marriage, One Hundred Letters Home.
A huge highlight of the week was the young feminist Lindy West talking with Emily Maguire about her book Shrill. West has been trolled so much on Twitter she has recently ceased all social media, saying she doesn’t want to share that space with the likes of Donald Trump and his followers. This doesn’t make me feel so bad about the fact I should have been posting on the gleebooks Dulwich Hill Facebook page. On the last day I intended to take some photos—but left my mobile at home. See you on D’Hill, Morgan

BLACK BOOKS


News from Blackheath

Autumn is here which is always a beautiful season in the mountains. We’ve also enjoyed hosting two great book events up here so far this year: Marilla North with Yarn Spinners in February, and in March we had playwright and novelist Catherine McKinnon with her new book Storyland. I have just finished reading it and if you liked Kate Grenville’s The Secret River, then I think you will like Storyland. It is an ambitious novel about who we are and our connection to the land. Set on Lake Illawarra, Storyland is a narrative of our history, our present and our future. McKinnon cleverly interweaves Australian history, starting with Matthew Flinder’s exploration of the area through to a climatic change in the future. She takes you from 1796 to 1998 to 2717 and back again with characters that you get to know intimately. I will say that I wasn’t sure where the book was taking me at the beginning, but persist as it gets very interesting and absorbing.
For the kids, Blackheath staffer, Ben, is recommending TWIG by Sydney author Aura Parker: Parker has created something magical here. Heidi is a stick insect, and it is her first day of bug school. She is so good at camouflaging herself that no one sees her at first. This is a lovely gentle picture book about starting school. It is full of things to find and count. It is great fun! Highly recommended for preschool and kinder children.
We have two terrific events happening this month. Ailsa Piper and Tony Doherty with their new book The Attachment on Thursday 20 April and Nikki Gemmell with her new memoir After

on Sunday 23 April. See the events page for details. Victoria Jefferys