Mark, Sun Bookseller, has been reading Old Records Never Die by Eric Spitznagel.
I once gave away my beloved copy of a T.Rex LP to a girlfriend. We lost contact, I lost the record. Some thirty years later I was working in a second-hand record shop and a came across a copy of the record in a pile someone had sold in. Inside was my name and form in my then-signature red ink “marc luffman 1cz”.
So Eris Spitznagel’s quest – to repurchase the specific copies of records that he’d lost, sold, or given away – seems less fantastic to me than it might to you. No matter. “Old Records Never Die” is a story that never suffers from concerning itself with the unlikelihood of its premise. The whys and wherefores reveal themselves organically through the narrative rather than explication. It’s an odyssey that leads the author to ex-girlfriends, emotionally estranged siblings and his own doubts and fears. By turns hilarious, moving, scathing and hopeful it never quite does the expected.
The fact that I have limited interest in the particular records he searches for – what IS it with Americans and Neutral Milk Hotel? – is not a hindrance. After all, he admits that one of the most important quests is for a record he doesn’t even like himself. Never arch, never cooler-than-thou, untainted by Hipsterism – he is hilariously unimpressed by Record Store Day.
“Old Records Never Die” will strike a chord with anyone that has an unhealthy relationship with records and make their relationships seem a little less unhealthy to people who don’t.
Kate, Sun Bookshop Manager, has been reading Music and Freedom by Zoe Morrison.
An exceptional piano protege from the age of three, now in her dwindling years, Alice Murray has stopped playing. She spends cold afternoons wrapped in blankets, sorting her music, burning her books and making phone calls. Then she hears through the wall, a piano being played. It drives her to the brink, makes her question her sanity and dwell on her past.
As a child Alice escaped, by virtue of her mother, an unyielding, parched orange orchard in country Australia, to an equally bleak, grey and bitterly cold north of England. She escaped a father who, post WWI, is driven mad and driven to drink by the naked branches of the orange trees that are his livelihood. She escaped into a seemingly golden life, that slowly unwinds as a tormenting shadow creeps into the fringes. Her parents pass away on the other side of the world, and her idyllic relationship with her beau, Edward, unravels soon after they are married – his temperament more like her father’s than she had first realised.
Morrison delves into the horror and suffering of domestic violence, as well as the rampant sexism that afforded women in the 1950’s a place in the shadows, rather than the spotlight.
This novel is a symphony. Beautiful. Haunting. Composed perfectly. Like the often referenced classical masterpieces in the text – Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt and Rachmaninoff. It contains within it’s pages the delightful slow build, the epic crescendo and the devastating silence.
Ella, Younger Sun Bookseller, has been reading And I Darken by Kiersten White.
“So the question becomes, Daughter of the Dragon, what will you sacrifice? What will you let be taken away so that you, too, can have power?”
Set during the Ottoman Empire and spanning almost twenty years, And I Darken is a complex of tale of love, beauty, power, religion and politics, and how all these things are inextricably linked. This book is rich with the history of the time period it is set in, and while much of it is historically accurate, liberties have also been taken.
Lada and her younger brother, Radu, are the Children of the Dragon. Their father, Vlad Dracul, is the Prince of Wallachia, the neighbouring kingdom to the Ottoman Empire. Lada and Radu are complete opposites; where Lada is all sharp angles and scowls, Radu is all curls and cherubic smiles. Where Lada is fierce and resilient, Radu is soft – yet manipulative. In their formative years, the children are sold to the Ottoman Empire as a sign of good faith from their father. Living amongst their enemies, both children must find a way to survive, but while Lada learns that love is a weakness that can be turned against you; Radu finds comfort in the foreign religion of Islam. Both children are befriended by Mehmed, the forgotten third son of the Sultan who was never meant to rule. But when Mehmed is thrust onto the throne, all three children’s lives are thrown into turmoil. Alliances will form, promises will be broken, loyalties will be tested and love will threaten to destroy them all.
I devoured this book and was consumed by Lada, Radu and Mehmed’s lives. White has a beautiful writing style that manages to cut right to the bone, whether she is describing the interconnectedness of the brothers at prayer or the way a woman’s power is concentrated in her body. I am loving this trend of having feisty, bad-ass female protagonists and Lada is up there with the best of them. While there are no fantasy elements in this book, Throne of Glass lovers will appreciate the similarities between Lada and Celaena. Fans of historical fiction will be enthralled by this relatively unexplored (at least in young adult fiction) time period with its engrossing and bloody history. This book receives two very enthusiastic thumbs up!
Michael, Sun Bookseller, has been reading Alex Cox’s Introduction To Film: A Director’s Perspective by Alex Cox.
Alex Cox gained cult status, through video release of his films Repo Man, Straight to Hell and Sid and Nancy. You‘ve probably seen Repo Man a zillion times, but those repeat video-hire viewings never earned Cox any money, let alone the acumen to work in mainstream Hollywood — or maybe he just wanted to keep working the lean Indie way. But whatever your opinion about the quality of his films, you’d have to agree that Cox has earnt the right to tell you about film making, the history of cinema and something of his idiosyncratic film appreciation. Based on the film course Cox delivered at University of Colorado — and while he can’t show you the actual films he’s talking about (you’ll have to look them up through the net) — he can tell you what to look for, what to appreciate, what you can learn, steal or love about them. If you took film studies at university you’ll have studied something called theory with a capital ‘T’ and while Theory is an extraordinary way to appreciate cinema, you will be equally satisfied with a practical thinking approach to how the makers of films achieved what they did and discover that what they set out to make and what becomes the perceived version, are not always the same thing.
It’s mid June… Already. Winter has been coming (thanks GRRM), and has now arrived. The Winter Solstice is just around the corner, and beanies are out in full force.
Generally, when halfway through a countdown to something (in this case, Christmas – which is also coming), one stops to reflect on what has come before. In this case, we’ve done a bit of
soul sale searching, and come up with a list of best sellers from the first half of 2016. So here they are:
- The Natural Way of Things – by Charlotte Wood
- Betweeen a Wolf and a Dog – by Georgia Blain
- Eye of the Sheep – by Sofie Laguna
- Maestra – by L.S. Hilton
- The Dry – by Jane Harper
- The Whites – by Richard Price
- Everywhere I Look – by Helen Garner
- Talking to my Country – by Stan Grant
- Road to Ruin – by Niki Savva
- My Brilliant Friend – by Elena Ferrante
- A Little Life – by Hanya Yanagihara
- All The Light We Cannot See – by Anthony Doerr
- When Breath Becomes Air – by Paul Kalanithi
- Lady in the Van – by Alan Bennett
- Reckoning: A Memoir – by Magda Szubanski
- Moroccan Soup Bar – by Hana Assafiri
- Broadsheet Melbourne Cookbook – by Broadsheet
- Nopi: The Cookbook – by Yotam Ottolenghi