Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Art of Bollywood: Cinema India by Divia Patel and Laurie Benson and Carol Cains.

The Art of Bollywood: Cinema India by Divia Patel and Laurie Benson and Carol Cains.  Paperback book published by Council of Trustees of the National Gallery Victoria 2007, 64 pages with colour illustrations and photographs throughout.

When it was first announced that this exhibition would be visiting Melbourne’s National Gallery, I felt great excitement at the prospect of one of my favourite Indian art forms visiting the Gallery.  No, I’m not talking about Bollywood films.  Bollywood is definitely not my thing.  After seeing a number of films over the years both here in Australia and in India, I can write without hesitation that I have absolutely no appreciation for Bollywood films.  What I do like is vintage Indian commercial art such as was represented in this exhibition…  I also have an appreciation for good Indian soundtracks/songs and especially film clips from the films, the ones that I don’t particularly like.  Here’s one of my favourites:

So the exhibition came and went, but unfortunately the anticipated mass of exhibition viewers did not.  I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition at the time and in retrospect it was great, well worth the visit.  I think that the National Gallery may have been working on the assumption that Bollywood Cinema was gaining in popularity at the time, so an exhibition would be appropriate.  People are fickle and a taste in Indian singing and dancing, romantic, and romantic comedy, films doesn’t necessarily translate into an interest in mostly vintage Indian film posters.  The outcome of all this was that “one of my favourite Indian art forms” didn’t really go down that well here in Australia.*

Here we are 5 years later and I find a copy of the exhibition catalogue.  I seem to remember that there was another bulkier book on the same subject, possibly not directly associated with the exhibition, that was available at the time.  I would love to find that one… although I probably wouldn’t sell it if I did.  I don’t know that this book will sell very easily but you can only hope… and in the meantime, continue watching awesome Bollywood clips on You Tube

*All of this is based on a conversation I had with a friend with close ties to the administration of the National Gallery at the time

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Storey's Guide to Raising Llamas by Gale Birutta.

Storey's Guide to Raising Llamas by Gale Birutta.  Paperback book published by Storey Books 1997, 323 pages with some black and white photographs and illustrations.

I've been pondering that age old question that we all ponder about at some point in our lives.  Is a Llama the same as an Alpaca?  This is not something that concerns me that oft, but I now have a book about one of them and I need to know what’s what and who’s who in the Llama world.  I don’t really “need” to know, but it’s just a good thing to know if your trying to sell a book about Llamas, whether a Llama is the same as an Alpaca. How embarrassing would it be if someone asked for a book about Alpacas and you pulled out your shelf full of Llama books… (?)

Over the years, I haven’t been that fussed when I have been corrected about my obvious lack of knowledge in this matter.  I’ve always referred to any woolly animal that looks sheep like with a long neck, as a Llama.   According to our good friends at Wikipedia an Alpaca “resembles a small llama” and along with Camels and a few other even-toed ungulates, they all belong to the family Camelidae, but most importantly, the Llama is not an Alpaca.  Well that sorts me out in the Llama/Alpaca identification saga.  If it’s small it’s an Alpaca unless of course it’s a young Llama and then…

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Driver Bus Lines: Transport and Tourism: A chronology of the fleet and events that shaped the company for 75 years 1931-2006 by Gary Driver.

Driver Bus Lines: Transport and Tourism: A chronology of the fleet and events that shaped the company for 75 years 1931-2006 by Gary Driver.  Hardcover book with pictorial boards published by Driver Group Pty Ltd 2006, 166 pages with colour photographs as well as some black and white photographs.

Many years ago I had a conversation with a good friend of mine about the lack of Travel Books concerned with the joys of Bus travel.  We came to the conclusion that whilst every Eric and his dog has written about the romance of train travel, there does appear to be a dearth of books about the romance of the long distance bus journey.  You’ve gotta ask yourself why this is… unless of course you have traveled long distances by bus…

This particular book has very little to do with travel narratives* and is more of a business/family history probably best evidenced by the author being a (Gary) Driver.  How lucky a name is Driver for a family with a bus company, I love it.  Flicking through the book it seems to be very business oriented, but it does have enough wonderful photographs and illustrations to keep a bus novice such as myself, entertained and there is the possibility that a bus spotter will consider a book such as this, porn.

"Driver Bus Lines: Transport and Tourism" well and truly falls into the Huc & Gabet “Books of interest” and is the sort of book that I pride myself in having for sale.  You wont find a book like this one that easily, although I do hope that any bus enthusiasts out there can find this particular copy easily.

*… actually, nothing at all.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Book of Eels by Tom Fort.

The Book of Eels by Tom Fort.  Hardcover book (no dust jacket) published by Harper Collins 2002, 287 pages.

There is a slight chance that I think a little too much with my stomach when selecting books.  No, I’ve not partaken in the paperback sandwich, nor the roast hardcover… well not recently.  What I’m referring to is the subject matter of various books and in particular this book about delicious eels.

I find a book about eels and all I can think about is wonderful smoked eel sandwiches (on rye bread of course) and how I’m a bit disappointed that I’ve never tried any Italian eel dishes.  Japanese restaurants also come to mind as the Japanese are quite fond of the slippery fish and it is something I will order when eating Japanese.  I’m also reminded of a can of eel that I recently purchased at an Asian supermarket here in Victoria.  I couldn’t resist and… yep, never again.  

I was talking to some neighbours about catching and smoking some eels a few months back (… some of my neighbours are also fond of the eel), which is something we’ve never progressed with after that brief discussion on the street.  I once tried to find Jellied eels in the East End of London but my friends (a vegan and a vegetarian) were unable to assist with my search (…they did try).  I also remember seeing eels for sale on the side of the road in Germany… and talking about Germany, who can forget the Tin Drum eel scene:

My eel memories and thoughts are numerous and plentiful.  So when I find a book about eels, all of this goes through my head in a matter of seconds.  Do I pick the book the up?  You betcha.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Swiat Samochodow: Praca Zbiorowa.

Swiat Samochodow: Praca Zbiorowa.  Paperback book (small) published by Wydawnictwa Komunikacyjne 1957, 115 pages with black and white illustrations. 

Swiat Samochodow: Praca Zbiorowa. Paperback book (small) published by Wydawnictwa Komunikacyjne 1958, 127 pages with black and white illustrations. 

Swiat Mikrosamochodow: Praca Zbiorowa. Paperback book (small) published by Wydawnictwa Komunikacyjne 1959, 115 pages with black and white illustrations. 

On the odd occasion I have found books that whilst having a certain familiarity could easily be from another world.  These three small books could be from one such other world.  They are certainly from another time and another place and for an Australian bookseller they are an unusual and alien discovery. 

All of the text is in Polish which makes it very hard to know exactly what they are about as my Polish language skills are non existent and life is too short to type in large amounts of text into an online translator.  In this instance I’ve described all three books as:
“Vintage catalogue of cars with specifications (all text) in Polish.  The cars appear to be from all over the world and are beautifully illustrated.”
... which is what i think they are all about.

They were all published in the 1950s and have a certain aesthetic which is definitely Eastern European 1950s… not that I’m an expert in Eastern European 1950s aesthetics or anything like that, but from my limited knowledge of such matters, I would say that both the design, layout and illustrations indicate that these books are Eastern European… which in this case, is the case.  It was these three things that grabbed my attention when I saw the books.

Here are a few of the excellent illustrations.  The first one is from the back cover of the 1958 book, the rest are from the 1959 volume:

Even as I bought and then carefully placed these wonderful items into my bag, I couldn’t help but think that no one would ever buy these… no one except me.  I guess I bought them as they do seem so other worldly, and as i mentioned above, are such an unusual find here in Australia.  I often wonder how certain books ended up here.  Think about it.  Polish catalogues of cars, found in Australia?  What are they doing here… besides being admired, written about here and attempting to be sold, by me?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Showband!: Mahora and the Maori Volcanics by Mahora Peters and James George.

Showband!: Mahora and the Maori Volcanics by Mahora Peters and James George.  Hardcover book with pictorial boards (no dust jacket) published by Huia Publishers 2005, 242 pages with black and white photographs also contains a CD of the Maori Volcanics.

“If you like your Mãori culture served in a cocktail glass then Showband! is the book for you! Recollections of white mink coats, sequined gowns and glamorous resorts contrast with personal sacrifices and dingy venues. Travelling to the four corners of the world, Mahora and the Maori Volcanics wowed audiences with their unique blend of popular music and cultural performance. A compelling personal story, a wonderful collection of photos and a bonus CD: Showband! is sure to be a big hit!”

I got very excited when I found this book.  I had never seen a copy before i stumbled upon this one, but I had read about it… somewhere, sometime ago, so I knew it existed and recognised it as soon as I saw it.  What was really surprising was the great condition of the CD, which is always a definite bonus… where a bonus CD, now secondhand, is concerned.   

Maori culture and history have a fair amount of interest here in Australia, probably due to the large number of New Zealanders, both Maori and Pākehā, living here temporarily and permanently.  My slight interest in this subject comes from a record purchase a number of years ago of one such Maori Showband (I bought the record after reading about this book).  It had some killer tunes that varied from the saccharine schmaltzy end of the spectrum to the heavy funk that we all hope to discover by accident on these sort of records.  For some reason I think the record may even have been by the Volcanics… but I can’t remember exactly.  So when I found this book with bonus CD, I was pleased that I would be able to relive that wonderful moment when I found those funky tunes, as the record has long been sold for big $$$.  Unfortunately this was not to be.  The CD is definitely on the schmaltzier side and is sorely lacking in the heavy funk that I was eagerly awaiting.

Not to worry though, it’s got lots of great photographs and history and even though the CD isn’t to my own personal taste, the fact that this book exists is evidence enough that there are plenty of people out there for whom Maori Showbands are very tasty.  From what I gather from my quick browsing, these bands played and were popular all over the world for a long period of time.  I personally have never seen a Maori Showband and to be honest I’m not in a big hurry to see one now.  But it’s still a nice find and I’m sure someone out there either Maori or Pākehā, would love to purchase a lovely book like this one..

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Hitler Club: The rise and fall of Australia's No. 1 Nazi by Gary Gumpl and Richard Kleinig.

The Hitler Club: The rise and fall of Australia's No. 1 Nazi by Gary Gumpl and Richard Kleinig. Paperback book published by Brolga 2007, 427 pages with some black and white photographs.

If you visit the Barossa Valley, or Hahndorf, in South Australia, the German migrant influence is fairly apparent as it is in many other parts of South Australia.  These areas were originally settled by German immigrants many many years ago, indeed, way before Adolf and his friends began their evil plans for world domination, Germans were dominating parts of South Australia.  I was in Hahndorf a few years ago and found the whole German thing a little overbearing and to be honest just a little bit too tacky for my tastes.  Yes, I like a good beer, I love a good bratwurst and I do have a passion for sauerkraut… but Hahndorf was just that little bit too much for me, as is the idea of standing around with a bunch of German National Socialists.

This book looks at a group of Germans and ex Germans in South Australia, who basically began a branch of the Nazi Party here in the land of sweeping plains.  It was the 1930s and 40s and Dr Johannes Becker was Hitler’s Confidential Agent and was regarded at the time as “Australia’s No.1 Nazi”.  What was he thinking? (Becker, not Hitler.)  I guess he was hoping for some sort of German bonding between the fatherland and Australia, or some sort of reward at the end of world domination (Adelaide?).  The Australians weren’t very happy about Nazis on home turf and locked them all up.  They also locked up many Germans who weren’t Nazis, as well as many of their descendents and anyone vaguely Japanese.  

This story doesn’t end in a bunker in Berlin. Doctor Becker was interned here in Australia and was later deported to Germany (1947).  I can’t imagine that the Germans were happy to see an Aussie/German Nazi back on home territory at that particular time.  Unlike the Nazis in “Everyone Wants To Be Fuehrer: National Socialism in Australia and New Zealand”,Becker and his mates didn’t have hindsight to demonstrate to them how wrong they were, but surely they had some idea.  

This isn’t the first copy of this book that I’ve had for sale and all the other copies (2 or 3) have sold.  This blog entry was begun a while ago and shelved after the copy I had at the time sold before I could blog about it.  I think this is a fascinating story and one that does hold an interest for many of us here in Australia.  The fact that I have sold it before means that I am always on the lookout for more copies.