A Pale View of Hills 

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

February 2017

Gleebooks Bookshop - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

On D'Hill 

I have made myself a new tradition, oxymoron though it might be, and that is every year on my break between Christmas and New Year, I read a book that I missed when it first came out. Last year it was the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante and this year, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihira ($20). Much has been written about this book already so I won’t offer my own review here but oh my, what a novel! I haven’t been so physically and emotionally affected by a work of fiction for many years. The Ferrante books come close I guess, but do not pack the punch of A Little Life. One of the small delights of the book is the movies Yanagihira makes up for Willem who becomes a highly successful actor in the book. One of these is an adaptation of Paula Fox’s 1970 novel Desperate Characters, which, oddly, was sitting on my bedside table as I read A Little Life. Dada dada dada dada! Spooky! 

Gwen, by the gloriously named Goldie Goldbloom ($30), is a fictional account of the painter Gwen John. Set mainly in Paris, it centres on her obsessive affair with the sculptor Auguste Rodin and her struggle to emerge from under the wing of her brother, Augustus John, and to be recognised as an artist in her own right. Both men were appallingly sexist and treated Gwen quite despicably while claiming to love her. You want to scream at her to stop taking it but she was a woman of her time and overall, Gwen is a richly rewarding novel about women and art, sex and madness. Goldbloom is originally from West Australia which is why, I suppose, she is published by Fremantle Press, although she now lives in Chicago. 

On a lighter note, I discovered the crime writer Peter May last year and recommended his book Coffin Road. His new outing is Cast Iron ($33), which, as you may have guessed, refers to the old ‘cast iron alibi’. Or is it? Set in France, this is a terrifically satisfying beach read.

And on crime novels, how amazing and sad that Peter Corris has now written his very last Cliff Hardy book appropriately titled Win, Lose or Draw ($30). As many have said, Hardy was very much part of the Sydney zeitgeist, so it is no surprise that while Corris had his private eye live in Glebe as Peter and his partner Jean Bedford did back in the 70s and 80s, now Peter and Jean have moved to Earlwood joining the increasing throng of writers and artists now living in our burg. Hooray and welcome all!

I have only just started the debut novel by Adelaide writer Rebekah Clarkson, but we may well have another discovery on our hands. Her book is Barking Dogs—set in small town South Australia and narrated by a twelve year old girl. I suspect Clarkson has been mentored by SA writer Eva Hornung as she gives the book a ringing endorsement. Perhaps I’ll see them both when I go to Adelaide Writers’ Week in March. Meanwhile, I’ll see you on D’hill, Morgan


Happy New Year! We are really looking forward to the new books scheduled for publication in 2017 and hope they will be as great as 2016. Here is an impressive list of Gleebooks Blackheath’s Top Ten Best Sellers for 2016 … 1) My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante; 2) Harry Potter & the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne/J.K. Rowling; 3) 79-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths; 4) Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe; 5) The Good People by Hannah Kent; 6) Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben; 7) Course of Love by Alain de Botton; 8) The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks; 9) Truly Madly Guilty by Lianne Moriarty; 10) Speaking Out by Tara Moss.
We also had a great year of events here in the mountains and want to thank all our customers for your support. We are currently putting together an exciting program to bring more authors to the mountains in 2017 to talk to us about their new books. If you are not already on our database to receive notification of upcoming events – please contact the Blackheath shop or pop in and put your name on the list.
2017 also marks Gleebooks Blackheath’s 10th Birthday which we will be celebrating later in the year by inviting all our customers to help us party and to thank you for your custom and ongoing support. It’s shaping up to be a great year! Victoria

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