Bikers bump Fifty Shades
J.K. ROWLING would have been the favourite to knock Fifty Shades of Grey off its perch at the top of the bestseller lists with A Casual Vacancy. And you can be pretty sure she will do so in Australia when the figures are published next week. But in Britain, it was the new book by celebrity chefs the Hairy Bikers that deposed E.L. James’ clit-lit. According to figures from Nielsen BookScan, Si King and Dave Myers’ The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight sold more than 36,000 copies in the week to September 22. Between them, James’ three books sold only 94,215. James had been in top spot since April and her three books have sold more than 10 million copies in Britain since publication.
Hill of celebration
THAT venerable establishment Hill of Content is celebrating its 90th birthday this month. It’s not actually the date the shop was founded – they’re not really sure when it was in 1922 that A.H. Spencer first opened the doors at the top of Bourke Street – but it’s worth celebrating. Spencer was working at Angus & Robertson in Sydney when he decided he wanted his own shop. Rather than be in competition with the people he’d worked with for more than 20 years, he shifted south, but not before he’d borrowed £1000 from Patrick White’s uncle Henry, which Spencer was given without surety. He wrote in his memoir that as White handed over the money, he said: ”Try not to lose it, but if you do your best and fail and lose this money, try not to worry too much about it.” He plumped for the shop’s name after a walk in Fitzroy Gardens; apparently the trees told him to call it Hill of Content. Spencer sold the shop in 1951 to Angus & Robertson but it was swiftly bought by Collins. There was a bit of a kerfuffle when Collins went into receivership in 2005 but the owners of Collins franchises in Sale and Bairnsdale organised franchisees to create a new company to buy the business and franchise rights. The Sale and Bairnsdale owners – the Johnston and Watts families – bought the flagship store. They brought Andrew Robertson back from a stint at Oxford University Press as manager, which he remains today. He’s bullish about the business – turnover up threefold in the past seven years – and says the shop did well during the GFC marks I and II. ”Perhaps some of our customers didn’t go overseas during the winter and stayed home and bought books – an affordable luxury,” he says. And will he be there for the centenary. ”Probably.”
Clunes elevated by the book
CLUNES Booktown has gone international. It has been accredited as an international book town since April and three of its organisers – Tim Hayes, Tess Brady and Graeme Johnstone – attended a world book-town symposium last month in South Korea. They were there for Paju Booksori, Asia’s largest book fair, which attracts more than 100,000 people and speakers such as Nobel winner Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio. According to Hayes, the visit boosted ”Clunes’ reputation as an international book town” and paved the way to joint projects in Korea, Malaysia and Europe. Next year the Norwegian president of the International Organisation of Book Towns, Jan Klovstad, and Paju Booksori secretary-general Lee Sang will be at the Clunes event. Brady gave a presentation to the symposium in which she outlined the origins of Clunes Booktown Festival as part of a rural renewal project. She emphasised the organisers’ determination to maintain the event as a ”festival of the book” as opposed to a writers’ festival. Next year’s festival will be on May 4-5.
Geniuses doubly blessed
IN MARIA Semple’s novel Where’d You Go Bernadette, Bernadette is a brilliant and eccentric architect who receives a ”genius grant” worth $500,000 from the MacArthur Foundation. The grants do exist and this week the foundation dished out another batch to 23 fellows. The recipients get the money as no-strings-attached support for five years; apparently, they get news of it in a phone call out of the blue. The foundation makes no demands and says the grants are designed to give recipients ”unprecedented freedom and opportunity to reflect, create and explore”. Among the recipients, who include a medical microbiologist, a neurobiologist, a photographer, a mathematician and others, are two fiction writers: Junot Diaz, the author most recently of a book short stories, This Is How You Lose Her, and Dinaw Mengestu, the author of How To Read the Air. Recipients are nominated and their merits assessed by an anonymous panel.
Pick from the bunch, or not
THE Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards are looming – Tuesday week to be precise, the same day as the Man Booker in London – with 21 books up for prizes. Winners of the five sections will then be considered for the Victorian Prize for Literature, worth a whacking $100,000. But you can have your say by voting for the people’s choice awards at wheelercentre南京夜网/projects. Intriguingly, you are not limited to the shortlisted books. So if you feel like nominating a book you can.
Film to fervour
THERE’S a familiar name on the shelves, but not one that’s known for writing. If you remember that Bill Forsyth film Gregory’s Girl, about a gawky Scottish schoolboy who falls for the female star of his school football team, chances are you’ll remember the actor who played him, John Gordon Sinclair. More than 30 years after he uttered the words ”she’s gorgeous”, his first novel, Seventy Times Seven, has made it into the shops. (He’s not the first actor from the film to have a book published; Clare Grogan – lead singer of ’80s band Altered Images – who ends up with Gregory, had a children’s book called Tallulah and the Teenstars published in 2008.) Sinclair told one interviewer that while he read and enjoyed crime novels by the likes of Ian Rankin and Elmore Leonard, they never made him feel emotional when he finished them. So he thought he’d write one that would have that emotional jolt.
FIRE whirled the Crystal Palace away
like a wild waiter harried by debutantes.
The smell lingers. Ashes stick to my shoes,
the damp city at my back, gherkins, fried food.
A man on his own, nodding, thrown as a knife,
says: ”Did I see the glass burst in the cops’ faces?”
Two of them look over, tiredly. I could have been
a bolster in the balustrade for all the chance I stood
of true witness. But he was in the park already,
among the cedar candelabra, watching the smoke
in its under-rehearsed escapologist’s straitjacket
come rolling and screaming through the wood.
KERRY Greenwood launches Unnatural Habits. 11am. The Sun Theatre, 8 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Bookings: [email protected]南京夜网; 9689 0661
GARETH Evans launches Why Human Security Matters, edited by
Dennis Altman and others. 6pm. Brain Centre, Kenneth Myer Building, University of Melbourne, 30 Royal Parade, Parkville. Inquiries: [email protected]
LAUNCH of Crime Factory collection, Hard Labour, featuring Peter Corris, Leigh Redhead, Garry Disher and others. 7pm. Grumpy’s Green, 125 Smith Street, Fitzroy
LEANNE Hall discusses writing for young adults. 5pm. The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, city. Bookings: expressmedia南京夜网.au
ROBERT Drewe discusses Montebello. 6pm. Ebony Quill, Shop 115, 793 Burke Road, Camberwell. Bookings: 9882 0032.
JOHN Marsden on education and the creative process. 6pm.
Rupertswood Mansion, 3 Macedon Street, Sunbury. $10/$5.
Bookings: [email protected]; 0422 298 643
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.