Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Berlin Alexanderplatz: The Story of Franz Biberkopf by Alfred Doblin.

Berlin Alexanderplatz: The Story of Franz Biberkopf by Alfred Doblin.  Paperback book published 1996.

Whilst travelling, particularly in foreign parts, I like to read something appropriate/relevant to where I am.  A good example is reading Brighton Rock (Graham Greene) whilst visiting Brighton (don’t panic, no bad poetry today) or Midnights Children (Salman Rushdie) whilst in India.  I don’t think I’m the only person who do this… maybe I am.  So a number of years ago I figured that as I was heading to Berlin, it would be a great idea to read Berlin Alexanderplatz in Berlin.  What a great read it was.  Truly a classic piece of literature.  Now some of you are probably aware that my ancestry is German and indeed I have family that are still German and they even live there.  So whilst visiting my cousin in Berlin, I casually mentioned that I’d had just read Berlin Alexanderplatz.  He paused and carefully considered, before asking me if I had read it in German or English… I of course had read an English translation.  Now what is interesting, was his comment, that he couldn’t even begin to imagine how the language would translate into English.  Unfortunately my German skills stop at a simplistic ability to converse poorly, so I had no real choice but to read the book in English.  It did make me wonder and still makes me wonder what I have missed.  From what I read in the English translation along with my poor knowledge of German and having a wild and crazy guess, I think I missed the colloquialisms and dialect.  Still, the book was a great read and I did enjoy it.

I’ve only ever found this book on a few occasions, in other words, it’s not a common find, which is probably due to its lack of popularity in the English speaking world.  Maybe it doesn’t translate that well…!!!  Due to its thickness (635 pages) and format (paperback), the copies I have found are usually very worn and creased… possibly they were read whilst travelling (sounds familiar).  From memory the book I read all those years ago was a worn second hand copy.  Whilst slightly worn and with a little bit of wear, this copy is in relatively good condition… which is why I picked it up and now have it for sale. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Handbook of Fungus Diseases of the Potato in Australia and their Treatment by D. McAlpine.

Handbook of Fungus Diseases of the Potato in Australia and their Treatment by D. McAlpine. Hardcover book published 1911.

Winter is fast approaching and one thing that concerns me about winter is that it’s often the time of year for catching some nasty colds and flu’s.  But looking at this book I’m beginning to realize how lucky I am that I’m not a potato (some may disagree) as there are a lot of particularly nasty diseases that a potato can get.  There’s: Early blight or Leaf Spot, Rhizoctonia Rot, Potato Scab, Dry Rot and Brown Ring, Wet Rot or Brown Rot, Black Leg or Black Stalk Rot, Black Dot Disease, Sclerotium Disease, Stringy Rot and Brown Fleck or Internal Brown Spot… and that is just the fungus diseases.  After 100 years and modern scientific breakthroughs in the ability to diagnose potato illness (there must be a book on the history of potato disease research… and if there isn’t, there should be), I’m pretty sure there are even more diseases of the Potato than are listed in this book.

There are some great black and white photographs and a few colour photographs as well.  Unfortunately they are all a bit tricky to scan as the binding doesn’t open flat, so I have taken some dodgy photographs to give you an idea of what this book is all about.

It isn’t in great condition… but neither would I be after 100 years.  There’s even some insect damage to the cover and fortunately there is no fungus and no chips to the cover… to be honest the book is looking a little bit worn and aged.  But it does have great content… provided you’ve got an eye for that sort of thing.  The big question is will someone buy it without having the book in hand to peruse the wonderful photographs, or would it sell better from a shelf in a shop.  Even though I’ve just listed this book on ebay, I think it would sell better from a shelf.  So your probably wondering why list it on ebay… because!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Marsh Arabs by Wilfred Thesiger.

The Marsh Arabs by Wilfred Thesiger.  Hardcover book published 1977.

Wilfred Thesiger, explorer, travel writer, legend.  They don’t make em like this guy any more.  Born in Ethiopia, he returned there in 1930 after Emperor Haile Selassie personally invited him to attend his coronation (Selassie’s, not Thesiger’s) and then returned to Ethiopia a few years later to do a bit of exploring… he was 23 years of age.  War service, some more exploring etc etc and then in 1951 he went to Southern Iraq and lived in the marshlands with The Marsh Arabs keeping himself busy by performing the occasional circumcision (he did do other stuff as well).   

I don’t always write about books that I have read, but in this instance, I have, and it was a rip snorter and yes it did lead me to other books written by Thesiger and I even own a biography of the guy… which at this point in time I still haven’t read (I will get around to it… one day).  He’s a very interesting man and from memory he’s very straight to the point, there’s no mucking around with Wilfred.  The Marsh Arabs is a bona fide classic travel/history book and it is a title that I would recommend as a great read to anyone interested in “a great read”.  The big question is, are people still interested in “a great read” …about Southern Iraq …and the occasional circumcision (…other stuff as well)?   

I’ve just had a look around on the www to see if there is any more recent information about Southern Iraq and the Marsh Arabs.  Apparently Saddam (you know… that guy) decided that it would be a good idea to drain the area and turn it into profitable agricultural land.  Profitable for whom…?  Anyway, there’s also lots of politics surrounding this area and its people and Saddam wasn’t very nice to them.  Post Saddam things are looking better and it looks like water and people are getting back to where and how they once were.  It’s a pity Wilfred isn’t there to lend a hand … with the occasional circumcision (…other stuff as well).  

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing Hoax by Philip Plait.

Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing Hoax by Philip Plait. Paperback book published 2002.

I’ve read a few popular science books over the years and I always feel that I’ve learnt something about something… that’s not necessarily a big something, usually it’s just a small something, but still, it’s something.  I do like the idea of this book which basically looks at rubbish science and weird conspiracy theories and throws them back where they belong.  It comfortably plants the supposed fake moon landings next to astrology, Velikovsky also gets a mention as does heaps of other stuff…  The truth is, I haven’t read this book.  I’m tempted though (really) as I reckon the “something” factor would be quite considerable.  

Unfortunately I’ve been finding that science book sales (both popular and… ummmm… unpopular) to be in decline.  It’s hard to sell a calculus book, a vintage guide to sex practice or a book about bad astronomy.  It’s easier to sell a book on homeopathy, astrology or anything by Velikovsky.  mmmmmmmmm.  

(Whilst skimming, I found this at the beginning of Part 4 “People believe weird things”… I like this as a statement… as a matter of fact I think this sums up perfectly what this book is trying to say… actually, looking at the bigger picture, I think it sums up what I’m trying to say as well…)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chronic transplant dysfunction: Etiology and Pathophysiology Aspects by E.A. Kouwenhoven.

Chronic transplant dysfunction: Etiology and Pathophysiology Aspects by E.A. Kouwenhoven.  Paperback book (no date).

I love DIY books.  The idea of fixing something by yourself with the aid of a book and not having to pay an expensive tradesmen… like the guy who came to fix my tv antenna and charged me $100 for 5 minutes work… and he didn’t even climb up on the roof… (I do now have perfect reception…?).  Anyway... a bit like cook books, there’s the promise of something that you can only ever dream of becoming a reality with your own hands.  All you need is the tools and a few basic skills and whammo, there it is, job complete… oh yeah… and you need the book.  Of course if you don’t follow the instructions, or have an inability to understand the instructions (think Ikea) and don’t have a few basic skills then there is a chance that it will end up being a horrible mess.  So despite a passion for DIY books, I personally don’t feel very comfortable with DIY.  From past experience, it always goes awfully wrong and you guessed it… ends up a horrible mess.  So generally I’m happy for someone with a little more experience… maybe a few basic skills… to perform the job required. 

This book is a very specialised medical text and just glancing at the pages makes my head spin.  Terms like “infiltrating cells” and “adhesion molecule expression” are a little beyond my understanding, but I’m sure that there are some people out there who do understand this sort of thing.  My suggestion for any DIY fans out there is to give this book a miss… trust me… you may want to get someone who knows what they are doing to do the job… a bit like my antenna guy.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kiss by John Swenson.

Kiss by John Swenson.  Paperback book published in 1980.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s Kiss were probably the biggest Rock n Roll band in the world.  Everyone was into them… everyone except for me and maybe a few of my friends… thinking about it now, I only knew one person who was REALLY into them…Trevor.  I remember clearly not really understanding what all the fuss was about and Trevor’s amazement and awe at Gene Simmons’s fire breathing and all the hullabaloo that went along with Kiss, was something that to this day I still don’t get. In recent years Kiss seem to have maintained a level of popularity (nostalgia?) that is phenomenal and I’m still bewildered.  I’m more than willing to admit that this is something that just didn’t click into place for me and before all you Kiss fans start berating me for having my heathen opinions… don’t.  I’m happy for you to sit there and scoff silently… it is just my opinion.

So I find this book and immediately think to myself that the massive nostalgia for this band will make it a resounding ebay success story (i.e. it will sell).  This is again one of those books that despite a lack of interest on my behalf, does not mean that there is a lack of interest on the behalf of millions of others.  Usually this sort of book (paperback, aimed at teen fans) is in not so good condition, as these books tended to be read and reread over and over again.  This copy does have some wear and blemishes, but nothing unexpected and overall it’s not too bad.  So I’m hoping a guy called Trevor is out there, somewhere, feeling a bit nostalgic… come on Trev.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I, Smocker by Eugene Lumbers.

I, Smocker by Eugene Lumbers.  Hardcover book published 1971.

The cogs were working hard the day I spotted this book.  Smocker… it seemed so familiar, but long forgotten… sort of back in the mists of time… something… Smocker… and even now I can barely remember anything at all about this book.  What I do remember is that it had something to do with my primary schooling and I clearly remember that Smocker was a cat and that is it.  Another indicator other than my dodgy memory which helped clinch the purchase was the front of the dust jacket which reads “As heard on A.B.C. Radio”… maybe I heard it on the radio.  I’ve now had this book for a few weeks and it’s still all a bit vague.  What I do know is that a quick search of my regular references on the www has produced nothing.  A slightly broader search and there are a few references but nothing concrete and none for sale.  There is another Smocker title listed by Lumbers entitled Smocker Takes Off (1972) and there are a number of these for sale.  So how rare is this book?  Well, if there are none for sale… then very rare.  In this instance if I can remember Smocker… even barely… then surely others will as well…

Monday, March 7, 2011

Man Junior Annual 1963

Man Junior Annual 1963.  Magazine.

“Man Junior” magazine was a spin off from “Man” magazine which had its beginnings in 1936 in Australia.  Both magazines would do an “Annual” which I believe were compilations/best ofs, of some of the images and cartoons from the previous year, which “conveniently” left out any of the articles and stories from the monthly magazines.  I haven’t scanned or blogged any of the cartoons contained in this annual as… well, they’re sort of a bit dated despite being a bit risqué.  I think the photographs demonstrate what this magazine was all about …… 


Recently I met someone who is a casual collector of this “sort” of Magazine.  When I write casual, i mean that she has a small collection that she casually adds to irregularly.  Her personal favourite is another magazine entitled “Gals & Gags” which as with my recent non bondage blog entry (Madcap Melody), also has nothing to do with “gags”.   Meeting a collector, albeit a casual collector, is a good indicator that there is a market for these “sort” of vintage magazines.   

These images were obviously intended to be Lurid and I think I can safely say that this magazine was/is the epitome of historical voyeuristic luridity.  Towards the back of the magazine there is some advertising some of which I have included here.  I think that more so than the images, these ads “demonstrate what this magazine was (really) all about”.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Gundel’s Hungarian Cookbook by Karoly Gundel.

Gundel’s Hungarian Cookbook by Karoly Gundel.  Hardcover book published 1997.

Very occasionally I regret selling a book.  At some stage (possibly 3 years ago) I sold a copy of this book before I got around to copying the Gulyas soup (Goulash Soup) recipe.  What happened was that before I sold the book I had found the recipe and decided to give it a go, having fond memories and nostalgia for an aunt’s Goulash Soup.  I had made it before and since with varying success.  But here’s the big news… the recipe in this book is close to perfect.  Now when I say “perfect” I mean it tastes like my aunt’s finest pot full of what I consider to be authentic Hungarian Cuisine (…I’m sure there’s a Goulash forum out there somewhere… if you want to discuss what makes a good Goulash, maybe consult with them if my comment concerns you). 

Anyway the book sold.  I packed it up and posted it… and then realized that I didn’t have a copy of the recipe.  I’m a relatively confident bookseller (?) and there are certain books that I figure I will find again and this was one of them.  It took 3 long years of close but inferior bowls of soup, until I did… but the joy and excitement when I did find another copy… you have no idea.

So who was Gundel?  Well he was this Hungarian bloke who had a number of famous restaurants in Budapest pre and post WWII.  He died along time before this book was published and this newer edition was edited by his sons.  The person who bought the original copy from me was very excited to have found this book and from memory indicated that they had eaten at one of his restaurants and had been suitably impressed.  They were not aware of the cookbook until I had listed it.

Now here’s a first for this blog… I have decided that despite my love and interest of Hungarian Cuisine and particularly Goulash Soup, that I will still try and sell this book… and to avoid any further inferior Goulash recipes, I have decided to write up the recipe here as a reference, not only for me, but for you (yes you) as well. 

A few quick notes about the recipe. 
I personally tend to vary some ingredients.  Things like lard are not common in my kitchen, so I use olive oil… and slightly less.  Also there is mention of soup pasta (csipetke)… I don’t do this but I’ve left it in as you may want to do this (I haven’t included the recipe… maybe check the www if your keen).  From memory the proportion of Potato in the recipe is a little high… so less potatoes.  Also the recipe doesn’t indicate the quantity of caraway seeds… don’t over do it, but make sure there’s enough.

Gulyás Soup

360 g (2 1/2 cups) cubed beef
800g (1 3/4 Ib) potato
80g (5 Tbs) lard
140g (1 cup) green pepper
150g (7/8 cup) onion
60g (1 small) fresh tomato
15g (1 Tbs) paprika
6 portions of soup pasta (csipetke)
salt, garlic, caraway seeds

Except for the proportions of the ingredients, this soup is prepared like Bográcsgulyás (Recipe as follows).

Use meat rich in gelatine (shin-beef blade or neck). Cube the meat into 1.5—2 cm pieces. Fry the chopped onion in the melted lard (shortening) until it is golden yellow. Lower the heat, then add the paprika, stir it rapidly, add the meat, keep on stirring, add salt. When the meat is browned and all the liquid is evaporated, add the caraway seeds, finely chopped garlic and a small amount of cold water, cover, and braise the meat slowly. Stir it occasionally and add small quantities of water if necessary. The meat should be braised, not boiled. While the meat is cooking, cube the potatoes, green pepper and tomatoes into pieces 1 cm in size and prepare the dough for the soup pasta (csipetke). Just before the meat is completely tender, reduce the pan juices, add the cubed potatoes, let them brown slightly, add the stock, green pepper and tomato. When the potato is almost cooked and the soup is ready to be served, add the pasta (csipetke), and adjust quantity by the addition of stock or water.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Man who was Starlight by Patrick McCarthy

The Man who was Starlight by Patrick McCarthy.  Hardcover book published Allen & Unwin 1987.

Bushrangers play an important role in the history of Australia.  We’ve all heard of Ned Kelly and his gang* and most of us are aware that he wasn’t the only Bushranger who terrorised Australia in the nineteenth century.  Who were the others?  Well… ummmmm… bushranger history is not one of my strong subjects and as I write this I’m having difficulty in naming some others…  Ben Hall… Captain Thunderbolt (I accidentally stumbled upon his grave a few years back… true)… mmmm, nope, I think that’s it for me.  My bushranger knowledge stops there. 

So Captain Starlight, also known as Henry Readford, is a bushranger dude that I am embarrassingly not so acquainted with.  He was famous for stealing cattle amongst a number of other achievements, including partly being the inspiration for Rolf Boldrewood’s book Robbery Under Arms.  This book aims to set the story straight about his exploits and appears to be quite detailed in its reportage and biographage (rhymes with reportage)… and how do I now know all of this?  I’ve got the book in front of me.

Ned Kelly books are very sellable.  Unfortunately Henry Readford isn’t a Ned Kelly.  There’s no armour, no shoot out, no Jerilderie letter and no movies starring either Mick Jagger or Heath Ledger.  So Captain Starlight is not in the spotlight.  Still, this book does fall into the category of Bushranger non-fiction and besides ignoramus here (that’s me), I’m sure there are others out there who have heard of the Captain and want to get all the facts neatly bundled together in one volume… and if they haven’t heard of him…?