Monday, June 30, 2014

Good Riddance: A History of Waste Management in Manly, Mosman, Pittwater and Warringah by Pauline Curby and Virginia Macleod.

Good Riddance: A History of Waste Management in Manly, Mosman, Pittwater and Warringah by Pauline Curby and Virginia Macleod. Paperback book published by Joint Services Committee of Warringah, Manly, Mosman and Pittwater Councils 2003, 223 pages with black and white photographs and a few black and white illustrations.

Whilst the Huc & Gabet website was being constructed late last year, my web designers suggested a number of social media thingys that I should sign up for. Their number one suggestion was facebook, followed closely by Twitter and Instagram. My immediate and maintained response was that facebook was a definite “never”, twitter was a “possible but I would rather not” and instagram was a “what the hell is instagram”. In the end Twitter and Instagram did become part of my on line portfolio and Huc & Gabet on facebook remains where it was before my website.

To be honest, after 6 months i'm still not 100% with the whole Twitter and Instagram thing. I think I need to spend a little bit of time with it, time which I feel could be better used elsewhere. Regardless of my hesitant and unprofessional use of these social medias, I have managed to keep up a steady stream of information and images. What does amaze me is that some of these posts do get hits and do get people interested. 

The image above, which is a full scan of the front cover, was cropped down to Instagram squareness and posted on Instagram.  Somehow it got quite a few looks pretty much straight after I posted it. I wonder if this is people who hang around on Instagram waiting for anything tagged “waste management” or was it the “Manly, Mosman, Pittwater and Warringah” connection that caused the stir. I'm not sure. I'd like to think it was both.

Click here if you want to see my Instagram images.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tolkien On Fairy-Stories: Expanded edition, with commentary and notes by J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien On Fairy-Stories: Expanded edition, with commentary and notes by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Verlyn Flieger and Douglas A. Anderson. Hardcover book published by HarperCollins 2008, 320 pages.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s “On Fairy-stories” is his most- studied and most-quoted essay, an exemplary personal statement of his views on the role of imagination in literature, and an intellectual tour de force vital for understanding Tolkien’s achievement in the writing of The Lord of the Rings. “On Fairy-stories” comprises about 18,000 words. What is little-known is that when Tolkien expanded the essay in 1943, he wrote many more pages of his views that were originally condensed into or cut from the published version. These passages contain important elaborations of his views on other writers, and their publication represents a significant addition to Tolkien studies.”

It's easy to forget that the bloke behind the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings had a day job. Yep, besides penning one of the most popular fantasy sagas of the 20th century, he was also an academic, which is sort of not surprising when you think about it. The Lord of the Rings has a complexity and depth that can at times be a trifle difficult and downright baffling, particularly if you're a 13 year old boy in the mid nineteen seventies growing up in the outer suburbs of Melbourne. An Oxford academic such as Tolkien, would have found this depth essential to his story telling and the fact that a boy in Springvale didn't understand this complexity would probably not have concerned him all that much. It's this background and mythos that is one of the reasons why Tolkien's work is so entrancing... that is if you're into difficult and complex backgrounds and mythos. 

I seem to remember having read a version of this essay at some point in my teens... I also seem to remember thinking that there wasn't enough adventure or excitement in it. I was expecting something a little different to what I got and failed to understand the purpose of the essay within the world of Tolkien's works. I guess that like some of the more complex bits of The Lord of the Rings mythology, this essay wasn't aimed at the 13 year old me.

Tolkien remains a very popular author whose reputation has been enhanced by an overly successful movie franchise. This popularity makes his works incredibly sought after by the book buying public and I have had great success over the years selling Tolkien titles when I have found them. Unfortunately they are few and far between as people do seem keen on keeping their precious Tolkiens...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Medicine of Australian Mammals, edited by Larry Vogelnest and Rupert Woods.

Medicine of Australian Mammals, edited by Larry Vogelnest and Rupert Woods. Hardcover book (no dust jacket) with pictorial boards published by CSIRO Publishing 2010 (reprint with corrections), 686 pages with some black and white photographs and illustrations.

In Medicine of Australian Mammals, more than 30 experts present the most current information available on the medical management of all taxa of Australian native mammals.”

Ever wondered what to do with a sick platypus? I haven't... and I reasonably expect that I will never have to. But if a poorly looking Monotrementa ever does knock on my door, I do have this book which may or may not aid me on the long journey to fixing up an Ornithorhynchus anatinus. It would be a learning curve... but realistically, this book is not meant for non veterinarian personages such as myself. I can imagine someone with a background in fixing dogs, cats and possibly budgies, taking the plunge into Australian wildlife fixing with the aid of this book and an educated guess after a quick perusal, leads me to believe that this is for whom this weighty tome is written for.

The book is slightly technical and it does have detailed photographs that are a little to detailed for this hands off non medical (and slightly squemish) practitioner. I guess if a Monotrementa ever does knock, I will redirect them to an appropriate medical practitioner and preferably one that has purchased this book... or if it hasn't sold, I will allow them to have a quick look and see if they can figure out what the problem is.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Black Caviar: The Horse of a Lifetime by Gerard Whateley.

Black Caviar: The Horse of a Lifetime by Gerard Whateley. Hardcover book published by ABC Books 2012, 390 pages with a few colour photographs.

I'm not a fan of Caviar. I never have been. When some one offers me a horse doovie and I see those black (or red) fish eggs sitting there... no, not for me. But some/many/maybe most people seem to love the stuff and naming a horse after black (or red) fish eggs from the other side of the world, is one surefire way to make sure that people remember it. … and the other way, is to get it to win.... a lot.

Black Caviar isn't the first horse to have a biography written about it and i'm sure it wont be the last. At the time Black Caviar was racing, it seemed that everyone was talking about it, so much so that even this bookseller who has absolutely no interest in Black Caviar (four legged or fishy), horse racing in general or the media hype associated with a horse, heard about this wonder of the track. I didn't particularly want to hear about it and as much as I had no interest, it did stick in my mind, so much so that a book about all this kerfuffle could not be left behind.

Black Caviar has now retired from racing and is spending time with the kids... It amazes me that such an icon and media event began and ended so quickly. What is even more amazing is that like Phar Lap and Don Bradman, Black Caviar will probably not be forgotten... and a telemovie is surely on it's way.  I guess if you win everything, then maybe it's not so surprising.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Spain by Henry D. Inglis.

Spain by Henry D. Inglis. (2 volume set).  2 hardcover books published by Whittaker and Co. 1837, 316 pages and 307 pages.  EX LIBRARY.

“Henry David Inglis, pseudonym Derwent Conway (1795–1835) was a Scottish travel writer and journalist.”

These books are a little worse for wear.  At a 177 years old and ex library, it’s no wonder that time and use has left these books a little worn and aged.  The text is still clean and very readable and fortunately the books are both still in one piece… but only just.  Sometimes I look at these aged and worn books and imagine what they would like new or leather bound with gold lettering.  The reality though, is that they aren’t anything at all like new and a vegan wears more leather than these books have ever smelt.  Still, they are a nice pair and perfect for anyone with a passing interest in vintage travel books sans leather.

The big question is, who reads vintage travel books?  I know that I do… that is if it’s on a subject or an area that I’m interested in.  Spain is somewhere that I have read very little about, but I could be easily persuaded.  My recent experience with both on line and in the shop has been that travel book sales are not what they once were.  Vintage travel is an even harder sell.  I’m not sure why this is, but there seems to be a distinct lack of interest in reading about other people’s travel adventures particularly from a bygone era.  Who wants to read about some bloke encountering card playing ruffians:

“… I passed three ruffian looking men sitting under the wall playing cards; and perhaps prudence ought to have whispered to me to return; but an Englishmen with difficulty persuades himself of the possibility of violence in day-light; and the sun being above the horizon, I continued my walk.”

As I mentioned above, I love reading this sort of stuff and possibly/probably/unfortunately these books will be on the Huc & Gabet shelves long enough for me to do so.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Reminiscences of the Ballarat Goldfield by J. Graham Smith.

Reminiscences of the Ballarat Goldfield by J. Graham Smith.  Hardcover book published by Pick Point 2002, 229 pages with some black and white illustrations.

“James Graham Smith’s writing begins with his landing in Melbourne from Glasgow with his mates. What follows are his adventures gold digging, contact with bush rangers, ex-convicts, troopers, squatters, gentry, love, theft, murder, mystery, mateship, hard times and good, and the interesting every day folk who came to Ballarat from all over the world in the search for gold. The period Smith writes about is from 1852, and includes the events before, during amid after the battle at the Eureka Stockade.”

Gold plays an important part in the history of Victoria, particularly around Central Victoria and even more particularly around Ballarat and Bendigo.  Without gold, a village like Clunes (the home of Huc & Gabet, and just a hop, skip and jump away from Ballarat) would probably not even exist, or if it did, it probably wouldn’t have some of the awesome civic buildings that it has today*.

James Graham Smith was one of the early arrivals to Ballarat and fortunately he had the inclination to write about his experiences later in life.  Sadly, he didn’t live long enough to see his meisterwerk in print. The Eureka Stockade was one of the experiences that Smith experienced and it was also an important event in the history of Ballarat and Victoria… and Australia.  (For those not up with the whole Eureka Stockade thingy, click here.)  Smith didn’t just write about Eureka, he also wrote about the everyday life on the goldfields which is something of great interest to many Australians for whom their ancestors experiences are a vague blur on the family tree.  I always imagine 1850s Victoria was a bit like Deadwood but with less glitz and glamour and from what I can tell James Graham Smith has avoided using Deadwood type expletives… although I’m sure he would have wanted to.

* Goldrush prosperity = awesome civic buildings