A Pale View of Hills 

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

November 2016

Gleebooks Bookshop - Wednesday, November 09, 2016

On D'Hill

Keeping my promise to read more books by blokes, I have just finished a chilling crime novel by an Argentinian author being translated into English for the first time. Kill the Next One is Frederico Axat’s third novel and it is a psychological thriller in the true sense of the word—the protagonist Ted McKay is about to kill himself when there’s a knock on the door. A man who seems to know him proposes that if Ted kills two other men, then they will in turn kill him, the reasoning being that Ted’s beloved wife and daughters won’t be so traumatised if he is murdered instead of him suiciding. At this point the reader thinks it’s all a bit silly and unbelievable but then reads on only to be sucked in by a labyrinth of clues and doubts and mystery. Nothing is as it seems and Axat expertly leads the reader down one dead end after another right up to the very surprising end. My only concern is that due to the very mixed-up nature of the main character, Ted is hard to identify with or get to know. Although there’s some brandishing about of guns (this is the USA) Kill the Next One is not a violent crime novel and will be enjoyed by those who prefer minds being blown away rather than bodies.

I’ve been indulging in some nostalgia this month with the release of Larry Writer’s Pitched Battle: In the Frontline of the 1971 Springbok Tour of Australia. I was there! I turned up at the gates of the SCG in my school uniform, much to the joy of the protest organisers who filled my school bag with whistles and other demonstration aids which I now forget although I’m pretty sure there were no bombs. I also went to the protest outside the Springbok’s motel but I guess my tender years meant I was never to become a prominent, newsworthy radical like the indefatigable Meredith Burgmann (who was in conversation with Larry at our event on the 12th). Still, I take some pride in my activism which, in the case of apartheid, was brought on after seeing gruesome photos of black South Africans slain at Soweto in a book on my mother’s bookshelf—one of those old New Left Library books with the yellow covers, the name of which escapes me (as does so much else!)  Who says books can’t change us?

The 70s also harken when I read glowing reviews of The Invention of Angela Carter which Viki, our esteemed gleaner editor, wrote about last month. I’ve never been one for Carter’s magical, fairytale-like genius, but she was an icon of literary feminism back in the day. Also published this month is Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and gleebooks has a bind-up of the two for $49.99 (save $15!) Give it to your daughters!

Who can believe we’ve been at Dulwich Hill for 6 1/2 years? Kids who were still being read picture books when we opened are now devouring books from the 8-12 shelves. Such a joy! Have a wonderful summer—I won’t say Happy Christmas because I’ll see you in the shop many times before then.  See you on D’hill, Morgan  

Black Books

October was a great month here in the mountains. Not only did some warm weather arrive…but we had two great book events: Don Watson talking about American politics with his Quarterly Essay, Enemy Within (pictured) and Winton Higgins and his new novel Rule of Law. Thanks again to all our customers who continue to support these events and we plan to bring you lots more next year. 
October and November are also big months for the bookseller as all the new releases for Christmas start to arrive. There are so many great new books to read and so I started with two of my favourite authors …
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett.  If you have been reading your Gleaner every month then you will know that this book has already been reviewed—so all I will say is that you won’t want to put it down once you start. It is a book about relationships and the obligations they bring. It is poignant and funny. Patchett convinces the reader of her characters by writing with sympathy, great wit and no moral judgement. I have loved all her books and this one doesn’t disappoint.

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry is set amidst the American civil war and is the story of Irish immigrant Thomas McNulty and his friend John Cole and the lives they are dealt with during these fateful years in American history. This book is written in the first person, creating an intensity and atmosphere that is breathtaking and absorbing. Barry is the master of language and a wonderful storyteller.

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