Greville St Bookstore

Contemporary Classic
September 26, 2009, 7:45 am
Filed under: Literature



Shirley Hazzard

pb $22.99

First published in 1980, but covering a period of enormous social change from pre-war Australia to post-war Britain, Shirley Hazzard’s The Transit of Venus remains a classic of contemporary literature, on a par with the work of great stylists like James Salter and William Maxwell. She has an extraordinary ‘short-hand’ way of conveying thoughts and dialogue, the literary equivalent of “blah, blah, blah”.

Hazzard follows the lives of orphaned Australian sisters Caro and Grace who come to England to seek their fortunes. They can hardly even lay claim to middle-class benefits, but the young women find themselves in a privileged milieu. Though far removed from the glamour of Mad Men’s Fifth Avenue, women are sidelined in exactly the same way; the same strictures apply, and the same unstated disenfranchisement is felt, in the more staid world of the Bell sisters. Their naive expectations are thwarted in an oppressive marriage for Grace and in an equally dissatisfactory affair and work place for Caro.


Caro had been three months in Spain for the language. To do this
she had gone as a nursemaid to an English family, who had
afterwards taken her to France and to Italy. Caro was now working—
serving was what she said—in a bookshop while studying for a
government examination.

It was even worse with Grace, who was in the Complaints Department at Harrods.

There could be no outcome to such activities but marriage. He knew
all about Caro’s examination and she would never pass it [she does,
of course, well ahead of all comers]
. It had only recently been
opened to women, and he had never heard of a woman passing it. “It
is stiff,” he said. It did not even lead to prospects, you came in
at the lower level, it was a way of having people with languages
without giving them career service.

“An exploitation, if you like,” he concluded.


Caro said, “I don’t like'” and took another cream wafer. “Peek
Frean’s,” she read before biting the lettering in half.

Speaking of “unstated”, what a genius way of putting “him”, Grace’s fiance Christian Thrale, in his place! From this you may gather that all is not doom and gloom, and perhaps there is room for love to flower even in this unlikely soil.

The Anthologist
September 26, 2009, 5:00 am
Filed under: Literature


Nicholson Baker
pb $32.99

Nicholson Baker’s narrator, Paul Chowder (what a great name! but best said with a real American drawl), is a some-time poet in a relationship crisis. He’s supposed to be writing the introduction to a new anthology of poetry in praise of “the rhyme” but things are not going well for him. For the reader, however, it’s fantastic: Chowder’s meandering, procrastinating riffs on poets from Auden to Yeats and his own contemporaries are humorous, affecting and ultimately make you want to read the stuff! Have to love a book that inspires new interests and new reading, and Baker’s The Anthologist seems particularly apposite as faber & faber have recently released a superb selection of poetry classics to mark their eightieth anniversary.

audenbetjemant-s-eliotted-hughesplath yeats

ff Poetry Classics — HB @ $24.99
Six beautiful poetry classics by Auden, Eliot, Hughes, Plath, Betjeman and Yeats. The selections have been made by great writers, each one with a stunning cover and matching endpapers by a contemporary printmaker.

September 25, 2009, 7:38 am
Filed under: Fashion

One-Hundred-yearsOne Hundred Years of Menswear
Cally Blackman
Laurence King, $75

A rich, comprehensive collection of images covering the revolution in menswear over the last 100 years with text by fashion historian Cally Blackman. Rare photography and illustrations reveal the elegant tailoring of Savile Row and tough khaki and denim of the uniform and workplace giving way to an exuberant array of styles and colours as the century progresses. Packed with images of Hollywood style icons, the artist personalities of the 1930s and more, the evolution of menswear from practical to peacock is explored in an array of rarely-seen photographs and illustrations. The impact of Pierre Cardin, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren and other designers is contrasted with the street fashion of the 1960s, punk and the clubbing scene to bring together the story of the flourishing menswear scene in one invaluable book. A unique collection, One Hundred Years of Menswear will prove indispensable for all fashion students, historians of dress and lovers of men’s clothes.

September 25, 2009, 7:22 am
Filed under: Fashion

Fashion-makersFashion Makers Fashion Shapers
Anne-Celine Jaeger
Thames & Hudson, $55

This title includes in-depth interviews with Fashion Makers, from famous designers, founders of fashion labels to key figures that unveil the process that creates an alluring design, collection and brand. With illustrations that offer a fashion feast, we discover why handcraft is so important to Dries Van Noten, why Luella Bartley loves mixing rebellion with traditional English style and why the founder of A.P.C., Jean Touitou, doesn’t make bags for bitches.

September 25, 2009, 7:10 am
Filed under: Children, Design

Nathan Jurevicius
Allen & Unwin, $35

Abandoned on a remote beach, Scarygirl doesn’t know who she is or where she’s come from. Blister, a kind and intelligent giant octopus, wants to keep her safe, but Scarygirl needs answers. Who is the strange man haunting her dreams? Will Bunniguru help her unlock the mysteries of her past? Can she trust the wily forest dwellers? Her journey takes her to the edge, and
beyond …
Welcome to the world of Scarygirl.

September 25, 2009, 6:57 am
Filed under: Children

Schumann-the-shoemanSchumann the Shoeman
John and Stella Denalis
UQP, $24.95

‘When the laces are tied, your shoes will be ready.’

For a world where nothing seems to last, here is a tale that will stay with you forever. Schumann the Shoeman is a story with soul.

September 25, 2009, 6:51 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Schumann-the-shoemanSchumann the Shoeman
John & Stella Denalis
UQP, $24.95

For a world where nothing seems to last, here is a tale that will stay with you forever. Schumann the Shoeman is a story with soul.

September 25, 2009, 6:41 am
Filed under: Children


The Red Piano
Andre Leblanc, Barroux
Wilkinsfarago, $27.99

This stirring and beautiful picture book relates the moving and inspiring story of a gifted young girl’s passion for the piano in a time of historic turmoil. During China’s Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976), a young girl is taken from her family and sent to a far-off labour camp. Forbidden to play the piano, she nevertheless finds a way of smuggling hand-written music into the camp and sneaking away at night to practice a piano in a secret location.

Then, one night, she is caught …

Inspired by the amazing true story of the international concert pianist Zhu Xiao-Mei, Andre Leblanc and Barroux’s acclaimed picture book from France poetically relates an extraordinary story of perseverence set against a cataclystic period of history which is, to this day, still shrouded in mystery.

September 25, 2009, 2:31 am
Filed under: Architecture

Toyo-ItoToyo Ito
Phaidon, $120

 Though Ito’s designs still show early influences, after the Sendai Mediatheque (2001) he began to leave behind what he increasingly saw as the boring and inappropriate boxes favoured by modernism, and move toward a light, sensuous and often organic architecture that engages with the cities around it and the people who inhabit it. These ideas are exemplified in this unique volume, where Toyo Ito presents a selection of his projects, all extensively illustrated with photos, diagrams, drawings, and computer realisations. Each of the book’s projects and thematic sections is introduced with a short essay by Ito. The distinguished Japanese architect Riken Yamamoto has provided an introduction to the book, while the well-known critics Dana Buntrock (USA) and Taro Igarashi (Japan) have contributed essays that provide valuable perspective on Ito’s complex works.

September 25, 2009, 2:29 am
Filed under: Design

unfoldedUnfolded: Paper in Design, Art, Architecture and Industry
Petra Schmidt and Nicola Stattmann
Birkhauser, $130

In Unfolded: Paper in Design, Art, Architecture and Industry paper conquers the third dimension. The undreamed-of possibilities paper holds today for lightweight construction, product design, fashion and art are demonstrated through a survey of paper projects. From Paper, the collection of bags by Stefan Diez, to the paper models of Konstantin Grcic and the scented paper garments of Issey Miyake, this book presents paper as a high-quality contemporary and ecological material. From Japanese washi paper and paper foam, to ceramic paper and carbon fibre paper, Unfolded presents the latest in research and development, as well as the most important methods and technologies in handcrafts and industry.