A Pale View of Hills 

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

June 2017

Gleebooks Bookshop - Wednesday, May 31, 2017
As all ‘Dully’ (there, I’ve used that nickname I don’t like) residents know there’s a huge amount of building going on in the burg. And underneath all these new apartment buildings are new shop premises begging to be leased. Just up the road from gleebooks yet another café has opened and yet again, the minute it opened its doors it filled with people. Apparently they’re aiming to open at night once council gets around to approving it which is a good thing. The one thing we do need in our high street is a lively night scene—more restaurants and bars please. A fish shop would be good too!
This month I’ve read two very deserving prize-winners—The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose ($28) which won the Stella prize for women’s fiction and The Lost Pages by Marija Pericic ($30), which has won the Vogel Prize for a debut novel. Both wonderful in their own ways, both intelligent and a bit arty-farty. Rose’s book has an audacious conceit which is having the artist Marina Abramovic’s famous MOMA performance piece The Artist is Present at its heart. But the book is actually about a composer, Levin, dealing with a tragedy in his life and obsessively going to the gallery to watch Abromovic’s performance. The book is part novel, part biography of Abramovic, part art criticism and the closest thing I’ve read to Siri Hustvedt in its New York art setting and in its deep humanity. Marvellous.
The Lost Pages centres on two ‘real’ people—Max Brod and Franz Kafka. In Pericic’s novel, Brod is incredibly jealous of Kafka’s writing, but it would appear that they were, in fact, very close and Brod did everything he could to promote Kafka’s work. Highly enjoyable and very well written. Pericic is definitely a writer to watch. Perhaps neither of these novels would be eligible for the Miles Franklin Prize as both are set overseas and neither have Australian characters, but I like that our writers aren’t afraid to be international.
That’s certainly true of the Swiss writer Joel Dicker who writes novels set in America which need to be translated from the French. His first The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair ($20) was terrific—a literary thriller of the first order. Now his second book, The Baltimore Boys ($33) features the same character, writer Marcus Goldman, in what is described as a prequel to Harry Quebert. I’ve only just started it so can’t really say anything but at my age and gender, I’m not sure yet another male coming-of-age story will interest me.
There’s a fabulous line-up of new books for the second half of the year which publishers are already showing booksellers. We’re looking forward to a great Christmas trade with new books from Michelle de Kretser (can’t wait to get my paws on a proof!), Richard Fidler and Richard Flanagan. An embarrassment of riches.
A reminder to those of you with toddlers to come along to storytime at 10am every Thursday. See you on D’Hill, Morgan

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