Wednesday, May 29, 2013

{misc.} bookish travels

I've just had a lovely week off work, visiting Sydney. I managed quite a few bookish things - a fruitful trawl of a couple of second-hand bookshops...

 

Look! Two Persephones -- Cicely Hamilton's William, An Englishman; Monica Dickens' Mariana. Such a great find - second-hand they are as rare as hens' teeth in Australia. The others are: a Virago edition of Charlotte Mew's collected poetry and prose; Beryl Bainbridge's The Dressmaker; Marguerite Duras' The Lover; and Lisa Lang's Utopian Man (the fictionalised story of the founder of Melbourne's Cole's Book Arcade – reviewed by reading matters and anzlitlovers).

Some new book window-shopping (and buying)...

 

Here we see Anne Summers' The Misogyny Factor (for a taste of this take-down of misogyny in Australian public life, see her extraordinary talk (NSFW!) here. Also Lily Brett's Lola Bensky (which I wanted to read after enjoying travellinpenguin's review), and Murder on the Home Front by Molly Lefebure, based on her work as secretary to a forensic pathologist in London in World War Two.

A kind friend, knowing my love of vintage Australiana, gave me this wonderful old book - Possum by Mary Grant Bruce - about a sickly city family who embrace the health-filled delights of the bush:

 

I went to a couple of events at Sydney Writers' Festival. How's that for the view from one venue?

 

I managed to get along to three 'conversations' (a friendly format, I think): on Bohemian Sydney: Dancing with Empty Pockets with Tony Moore (author of a new book on bohemianism in Australia) and Elizabeth Farrelly; What the Classics Teach Us with Robert Greene, David Brooks, Richard Gill and Alastair Blanshard; and Fantastical Tales, with Sulari Gentill, Kate Forsyth, K.B. Hoyle and Judith Ridge. An eclectic mix, but all quite fascinating. Two of the three were free, too – a nice way to allow everyone access to some really good discussions.

 

I visited a couple of exhibitions, including Dressing Sydney at the Sydney Jewish Museum (about the origins of many familiar Australian fashion and design labels) and - my absolute favourite - the Lego Colosseum at the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney.

 

I ate a lot of cake, visiting both Black Star Pastry and Bourke Street Bakery:

   

And found a bottle of orgeat syrup, which I'm sure all Regency fans will recognise as a suitable Georgette Heyer-ish drink for ladies. I suspect Regency ladies did not drink it like this, however - the 'Japanese Cocktail' (brandy, orgeat, bitters, fresh lime. Amazing…):

   

I also gave a seminar paper at the university (terrifying but happily well received by a very kindly audience).

 
Sydney University, looking very handsome.

Of course, despite all of these bookish pursuits, I only finished one book - on the plane home! – the amusing tale of how a clever conman latches on to an unscrupulous millionaire and teaches him some lessons in humility (and frustration): An African Millionaire: Episodes in the Life of the Illustrious Colonel Clay by Grant Allen (who wrote one of my favourite reads this year, Miss Cayley's Adventures, also free at project gutenberg).

Finally, in the minus column, my laptop has died after a rapid and painful decline, so I have a backlog of about 30 million blog posts I want to comment on but can't until the replacement arrives. On the plus side, no one seems to have noticed that I'm writing this at work… Talk soon!

16 comments:

  1. It sounds like a lovely holiday! and if you didn't get much reading done, at least it was Grant Allen, and you found books - it doesn't quite feel like a vacation without at least one stop at a bookstore. What was the topic of your paper? I hope your new laptop arrives soon.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lisa May! It was fun, especially after the paper was over. ;-) I was talking about divination in ancient 'popular' literature (for instance, ancient Greek novels). It's something I'm [meant to be] writing a chapter on for a friend's book. I liked my latest Grant Allen read a lot. A good find!

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  2. Great haul there, especially the Persephones! The Molly Lefebure sounds really good too, will keep that on my radar. Love the Lego Colosseum as well. And yes, do share more on the topic of your paper if you can (once you have a spanking new laptop up and running again!) :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Michelle! I am reading the Molly Lefebure at the moment (in competition with my mother who picked it up from the table where I'd foolishly left it and started reading it simultaneously, so now we do that thing where we can't figure out who is up to where!): it is very intriguing in a CSI way, but her comments on class and poverty can be a bit disquieting. A product of its time, of course, but I imagine the TV production (apparently coming soon) won't go there!

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  3. Yay for Persephones! Rather envious of you being able to listen to Kate Forsyth, how awesome. Your holiday sounds lovely, and so much about literature.

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    1. Thanks Charlie - it was a rather good panel (and a very good holiday!) - lots on how writers process their influences - as well as their researches - into their works for instance, which is something I'd not thought too much about with regard to fantasy. Kate Forsyth was a good performer - very articulate and open.

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  4. What a great trip and a great bunch of finds! The cover of Possum is beautiful.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Elizabeth - it was a great break. I thought I was very restrained with the book buying too! Possum also has some b&w plates inside too, which I really should scan properly (ditto the cover - lazy iphone photo!).

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  5. Sounds like a fun tip and what wonderful finds - especially well done on the Mew and the Persephones!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks kaggsy! When I saw those grey spines on the shelf I swear my heart skipped a couple of beats. I did ask myself WHAT sort of person would discard them!

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  6. I love Monica Dickens. It looks like you had a great trip.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Sarah - I loved the semi-autobiographical trilogy (One Pair of Hands, etc.), but I found another one I read (Kate and Emma) rather hard going (too much social work?). However, Mariana does have some good reviews, so fingers crossed.

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  7. What a great week you had in Sydney, but then I always think every holiday week in Sydney is wonderful. Congratulations on your paper. Your sessions at SWF sound wonderful. I'm going to make it next year. I say it every year, but next year I mean it. I've been to Melbourne Writers Festival twice, and not been to Sydney! Crazy. I love the Lego Colliseum. The bakery spoils look fantastic. I've never been to either. I'm not sure how I feel about popcorn as a garnish though. I think that's popcorn. Lovely book hauls too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The popcorn was wonderfully caramelly gooey goodness - really good. I definitely recommend both those bakeries, though the queues at both were staggering and both shops were ridiculously tiny. I do love Sydney but after a week I am exhausted by the amount of energy required to get around, and all the people everywhere. Small city girl!

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    2. The Writers Festival was wonderful wasn't it?
      I went for the first time to the weekend events at Pyrmont. I managed to see about 6-7 seminars/chats including the classics one that you also attended :-)
      Made me want to read the myth of Orpheus.

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    3. That myth is so embedded in so many books, it's like a key for unravelling them - I thought they really brought out its huge range well, given how different were all the speakers' interests.

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