Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Books from A Smoky Sunday

This week has been sad. Tasmania is on fire. From the east to the north east to the north west to the south west to the south east.
More than 100 buildings have been destroyed and the air is thick with smoke. Big heavy billowy clouds of smoke.  This morning I laid in bed reading a bit and tears ran down my cheeks from the smoke burning my eyes.  I don't like it at all.

It is a catastrophe here and there are many very devastated families.  Even Julia Gillard, our Prime Minister came yesterday and was near tears standing by the school that has been destroyed in  Dunalley on the east coast at the top of the Tasman Peninsula. One small village with only three buildings left standing on their main road. The Tasman Peninsula has always had a dark history. Stories from the penal settlement of Port Arthur were dire.  The mass shooting at Port Arthur was a nightmare some people have never awakened from and now the entire peninsula is on fire.

I also learned on Saturday a dear friend of mine died from her illness she has been battling for two years. Her funeral was yesterday. However, ironically she died a few days before the house burned her home to the ground as she lived in Dunalley. Strangely enough the only thing that survived on the entire property was a tree she bonsai-ed (sp?) that was 30 years old. It was as if her spirit survived in a small way.  Like they say, "It never rains but it pours. "

So as much as I have been reading I find I am re-reading pages of the Penguin book of Four Stories from American Women. I am half way through the Sarah Orne Jewett novella and find myself having to flip back two or three pages to re-read because I am simply not concentrating.  So I am reading Michael Connelly's latest crime book, The Black Box I gave my husband for Christmas.  We like him and have read all of his books and it is really good escapism. I will continue with that as well as the Penguin Classic.

Each Sunday morning is the big market north of Hobart in Glenorchy. I often go there and have a walk around. There is a lot of junk, lots of plants that sell cheaply and quite a few books. I thought I'd get on the scooter and have a ride and do a bit of Penguin hunting as well as see if I could find anything else I just liked.
The  Sunday Glenorchy Market - runs every Sunday year round
I know this is the year I read the books I own. Well stuff that this week. I needed the book retail therapy and it worked a charm.  Found some interesting things for not much money, chatted to people everywhere about the fire, watched the police escort the idiots from the area who had left their dog locked in a hot car and generally forgot about the fires. Of course, except for the incessant smoke.

These are the books I came home with.
Island Affair by Eleanor Alliston:  This was a complete surprise. Years ago I read the first book by this couple, Escape to an Island.  It is the ongoing story about Eleanor and  John Alliston who sold everything they had after World War II, leaving England and settling on Three Hummock Island. This island is thirty miles off the north coast of Tasmania and they struggle yet survive making a new, quieter, if extremely isolated life for themselves and their family. I had no idea the story continued in a second book.
I have had Escape to an island for years, Island Affair is the sequel
I found that I didn't know existed. 
The next book is an Imprint Classic called Wild Cat Falling by Mudrooroo (Colin Johnson) It is the story of an Aboriginal Australian youth  a 'bodgie' of the early 60's, who grows up on the ragged outskirts of a country town, falls into petty crime, goes to gaol, and comes out to do battle once more with the society that put him there. It was a literary event with its publication in 1965 as it was the first novel by any writer of Aboriginal blood to be published in Australia.

A vintage Penguin book of Italian Short Stories- Racconti Italiani, Penguin number 2196 published in 1965.
Hey, it's a Penguin. Of course I would pick it up.

The next book I found was They Called Me The Wildman: The Prison Diary of Henricke Nelson by Robert Hollingworth. The inside flap of the dust jacket describes it as "Australian identity has been shaped as much by obscure minorities trying to make their way in a harsh colonial environment as by grand historical figures and events. In They Called Me The Wildman author R. Hollingworth vividly relates a previously untold fragment of this nation's history through the captivating voice of Swedish immigrant Henricke Nelsen.

I also found two books of Natural History. I always find it hard to pass by books about birds. Not so much the identification guides but a book that tells me something about finding the birds, or describing their behaviours.  This one is called Bird Wonders of Australia and looks to have interesting stories of the quirky things birds do whilst mating or nest building. Good to dip into and some nice colour photographs. Published in 1956.

How on earth and why did this bird evolve with these colours?!
Another type of book I always fall for is an old book with an old paper dust jacket about animals. This particular one is a beautiful book, undated but I would guess the 50's about Australian animals. One animal per page with description of it on the opposite page. This one is Animals of Australia in Colour by Lyla Stevens by Whitcombe and Tombs Pty. Ltd. It's one of those books that was registered at the General Post Office of Melbourne years ago and has no copy right details in it.

The final book I picked up I bought for 50 cents because it had the V of Vintage Publishers on the spine, it's not too long and it sounds interesting. Published 1995.  The Unloved by Deborah Levy is described as "set in a French chateau (in a subversion of the English country house murder mystery), it begins with an inquiry into the death of an Englishwoman during a game of Murder in the Dark. An international group of tourists has been celebrating Christmas together, an experience that has involved a great deal of brooding intensity, glimpses of skeletons in cupboards and sexual versatility...Levy attempts to convey the loneliness at the heart of human existence and the damage wrought by the absence of love. It is apparently the novelist's third book.

When I got it home and looked through it more closely I saw it has a lengthy inscription on the inside front cover. I always find inscriptions, especially long ones quite intriguing to read and this one was no different. It made me wonder about the sender of the book as well as the receiver and how it came to end up in a junky book stall at a very dodgy market. I always want to know their tales.

The inscription reads:  "My oldest and dearest friend,  The present is late, unwrapped, no longer a surprise, and pretty damn average!! I apologise for all of these things, and in doing so, have just realised that the indelible words I print on this page also mean if you hate it you'll have to learn to live with it- cos you can't return it!......sorry!
Anyway, I hope you had an excellent Christmas, and your New Year is loaded with Kick-Arse fun!
I love you, and despite the fact I'm an outcast, I hope you love back (me that is!)
May you worship James Bond eternally , king of sex and cool. Love and sexual fantasies, (her name which I blocked out) xxxx(a.k.a. Pussy Galore!)  
Lots of exclamation marks.  Well I hope you enjoy perusing this strange acquisition of yet more books to be put onto the TBR pile.  Which one would you read first??  



  1. Have read about the fires in the paper, and seen TV footage. It sounds terrifying, and there is some suggestion over here that some fires may have been started deliberately, which is hard to take in. Stay safe.

    1. Thanks Christine. So far most of the fires have been started by carelessness. A wheel fell off a car and scraped pavement causing a spark= 1 fire; then a smouldering tree trunk had been smouldering for weeks evidently and then someone else walked away from a campfire w/out putting it out. Carelessness though some are from arson. Can never get away from the firebugs. Thank you for caring about us. cheers

  2. I'm glad that you found such a variety of books, hopefully they can provide a bit of distraction amidst the devastation and sadness. I'm a true believer in comfort reading and in book-shopping therapy. Take care!

  3. There's been muted coverage of the fires here but am thinking of all my friends over on that side of the world, forest fires look terrifying.

    That inscription on the Levy book is hilarious, so much pent up lovemelovemeloveme energy coming from it and it obviously overwhelmed the giftee... :)

  4. Wow! The Bird Wonders is a real find.


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