In This Issue (November 2006)
Table of contents
Letters to the editor
I am an avid fan of gr and enjoy receiving every issue. I particularly enjoy reading about books that other readers are enjoying. I have just returned from a holiday which was an experience of a lifetime, and wondered whether you would be interested to read about the books my fellow travelling companions were reading on the voyage.
The Soren Larsen is a Tall Ship, a brigantine rig with an oak hull, weighing 125 tonnes, 44.2 m in length, with 12 sails and 29.9 m masts. We had 12 crew and 20 working passengers on board while we sailed for three weeks in the South Pacific, travelling from the Cook Islands to Tonga.
Soon after boarding, I made a beeline for the ship’s library. Happily, I found several shelves of interesting books scattered throughout the ship. They were mostly donated, or left by previous passengers. Some were donated by seamen’s clubs and unions around the world. They covered various subjects, including reference books on wildlife of the high seas - whales, fish, birds - novels with a nautical theme, and of course books about exploration, discovery and adventure!
Due to the possibility of books falling out of their shelves on rough seas, they are held in place by thin slats of timber called ‘fiddles’ which slot into small grooves at each end of the shelf.
Thanks again for a wonderful magazine, which has brought me so much reading pleasure. Keep up the good work!
Vanessa’s pieces on her own and her co-travellers' reading matter on board the Soren Larsen appear on page 21. - Ed
I have just received my first issue of gr and I can only compare flicking through it with perusing a fine dining menu. I’ve always enjoyed reading and your article on travel literature spoke to me in particular, Bill Bryson being one of my favourite writers.
I’d love to tell your readers about one of my favourite books. It’s called Oleander, Jacaranda: A Childhood Perceived by Penelope Lively. It's set in Egypt before and during the Second World War and recounts the story of the author’s childhood, growing up in an idyllic country and later enduring a tumultuous situation. It certainly transported me to my parents’ home town and gave me an appreciation of what it must have been like to experience the ambience of a beautiful, exotic land.
What a great magazine! Sometimes I have to devour it immediately and then go back for a leisurely trawl at a later date. Then again, I might let it sit there for a week and take it out and get ready with my pen and tick all the books I need to read.
Letter from the editorIt’s no use being in denial - you can kick and scream all you want, but the plain fact is that it’s That Time of Year again: the countdown to Christmas. I know that makes it the shortest year on record, but there you go. We’ve bowed to the inevitable here and our advertising manager Beth Parton has put together a brilliant four-page pull-out Christmas gift guide that’s sure to solve some of your present-giving quandaries. And just look at the big guns the publishers have brought out for the Christmas book market fusillade: Cormac McCarthy, Charles Frazier, Isabel Allende, Richard Flanagan, Martin Amis, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Ford, Roddy Doyle, Clive James, Henning Mankell, James Lee Burke, Andrew Klavan … it’s a feast for the mind, all right, and we’ve got them all covered.
A couple of issues ago we ran an extract from More Mere Mortals by Dr Jim Leavesley, who specialises in researching the medical problems that beset real characters in history. Now, in an article written just for gr, Dr Jim looks at some of the real maladies suffered by characters in classic fiction, from Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol to poor Bertha Rochester in Jane Eyre. See if the authors got it right in his article on page 18.
One of the arguments I used to have over and over again with book designers back in the days when I was a publisher was about type size. They always made the type too small. The trouble is, most book designers are youngsters straight out of art college, with 20/20 vision; most book readers and buyers belong to a somewhat more mature demographic. It came to a head when we published the memoirs of a grande dame of Australian stage and screen (now deceased) in a type size that would have challenged a clear-eyed twenty-year-old, and of course the author’s fans were very definitely of a certain age. The large print book market in Australia is small, and still has a stigma attached to it. But as the baby boomer generation heads, very ungently, into retirement, this is bound to change. And there are lots of other segments of the population that would benefit from larger, clearer type, too. We take a look at the scene on page 9.
Robert Goddard and Lynda La Plante are two English crime writers whose work is very popular in Australia. They each have a new book out this month, both starring characters we’ve met before, and I was privileged to speak to Robert and Lynda recently. Read their stories on pages 10 and 16 respectively; they personify the adage that ‘no one does crime as well as the Brits.’ (Although come to think of it, we have some Australian crime writers who could give them a run for their money, and one or two Americans aren’t half bad … and some of those Europeans … Maybe I shouldn’t make value judgements after all.)
Seeing a glorious new book of Albert Tucker’s paintings made me realise how little I knew about this wonderful Australian artist. I’d always thought his work a bit dour and depressing, but take a look for yourselves at the reproductions on pp 46-7 and see how hopelessly wrong I was.
Back to the drawing board, or into the dunce’s corner with me!
If your letter is published, you will receive a MightyBright XtraFlex 2 LED Booklight vakued at $26.95! The wonderfully useful and stylish booklight has 2 LED lights on one head on a flexible arm.
The manufaturer Arnott's of Australia (who's tagline is 'Not the biscuit co'), says the globes will never need replacing.
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