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.

Off My Butt

 - Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Finally, I have got off my butt, bitten the bullet, faced my demons and committed to writing a column from the wonderful Dulwich Hill, or as I like to refer to it;  D'Hill. This is the beginning of a campaign on my part to kill off the horrible nickname Dully which is what the locals call it. I hate it; it makes we residents of D'Hill seem dull and boring, whereas the opposite is entirely true. D'Hill is hip, groovy, cool! Why, we even had a drug bust over the road from the shop in January. Someone had been cooking methamphetamines above the nail and beauty shop. It was Breaking Bad on D'Hill. Nothing dull about that.
Gleebooks has been trading on D'Hill for three and a half years now and children's buyer Liesel and I really feel part of this lovely (notwithstanding the drug bust!) community. It's especially great to see the children running through the door and through to the children's section, excited to find a new book. Late last year we reorganised the sections, giving children's a much bigger space, which it really needed and deserves. The shop looks terrific, so if you haven't been in for a while, do come and visit us.
Now to what I've been reading: elsewhere in these pages you'll see my review of Siri Hustvedt's The Blazing World, so no need to wax any more lyrical about that. Also out this month is a wonderfully titled novel called We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (The Jane Austen Book Club). Rose is a college student trying to put her strange childhood behind her and pining for her older brother who left home some years ago and hasnít been seen since, though there have been postcards and some evidence that he is involved in a radical animal liberation group. Roseís father is a zoologist and soon after she was born, he brought a baby chimp named Fern to the household, bringing Fern and Rose up together, in a home science experiment. Rose loves Fern like a sister and when Fern is suddenly taken away when Rose is five, she is devastated and the novel explores the way in which this separation has affected her. Rose's first person narrative is beautifully written, smart and funny and very convincing.  A terrific novel. 
The Train to Paris is a an impressive debut novel by Sebastian Hampson, which is a charming and very sweet story about a young New Zealander studying in Paris who meets and has an affair with a bewitching older woman. This is well-written and thoroughly enjoyable. Ah, first love!
Lastly I'll mention how thrilled I was to see local writer Michelle de Kretser's award-winning novel Questions of Travel at number 4 on the Gleebooksí Christmas bestseller list. This is an outstanding achievement for a book that has been out for nearly two years, first in hardback and for nearly a whole year in paperback. Itís a classic example of how a book can stay popular because everyone who reads it loves it, and wants to share it with their friends and family. At Dulwich Hill we even sold about a dozen copies in January. Happy Michelle, happy Allen & Unwin, happy booksellers! Next month I'll get the lowdown from Liesel on terrific new children's books to be watching out for. Meanwhile, see you on D'Hill, Morgan Smith.