Thursday, September 24, 2015

Lincoln and his Generals by T. Harry Williams.

Lincoln and his Generals by T. Harry Williams. Hardcover book published by Gramercy 2000, 368 pages.

This is the human, dramatic, and fascinating story of Lincoln as commander in chief of an army at war against its brothers. It is a riveting look at his search for a winning general, and of his own emergence as a master strategist. Here is the Lincoln who, in loneliness and doubt, bore the whole burden of forging a modern command system that would serve a nation in years to come.”

There are many people who read books on history. I read books on various histories preferring to keep it as broad or as narrow a range as I feel like at any particular time. I do have a slight bias towards books about the history of India. This interest came about whilst travelling and it was due to a desire to better understand what I had seen whilst journeying and not having had a full comprehension of the whole story at the time (...and what an amazing story it is). Over the years I have become a little more enlightened about the sub continent and i still find the odd tome to tempt me.

Some people like to read about the American Civil War. From memory there are more than a few past prominent Australians who count themselves amongst those with more than a passing interest. My tastes haven't ventured towards this area of the world's history and at this point in time I can't see it happening all too soon. I'm not sure why this is, or why others with no obvious link here in Australia, should have a fascination with a war that was more than a few years ago. I guess i'm no different as I also have no obvious link with my favoured historic topic/place other than spending a bit of time there.

A final observation: I've noticed that the Civil War is not so popular with the on line book buyers here in Australia. Yep, I don't seem to be able to sell books about Americans killing Americans on ebay. From experience though, these books did sell over the counter in a bricks and mortar situation... mmmmmm... Stay tuned for some important Huc & Gabet news in the next few weeks.

Click here to view this book on ebay.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe's Best Artisan Bakers by Daniel Leader.

Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe's Best Artisan Bakers by Daniel Leader. Hardcover book published by W. W. Norton & Company 2007, 355 pages with some black and white illustrations and colour photographs.

Is this how they make them in France?” As Dan Leader watched Rolf, one of the bakers at Tobias Maurer’s Stuttgart bakery, shape French loaves, Dan thought that he had misheard Rolf’s question. Stuttgart is a six- hour train ride from Paris, and it was incomprehensible to Dan that this master baker, who spent his life making different kinds of German rye breads, wouldn’t be aware of French baguettes. All over Europe, the bakers Dan visited in his search for unique artisan breads were, like Rolf, devoted to baking locally. It is this commitment to place and tradition that accounts for their greatness. Although globalization has made its way across Europe, Dan managed to discover local bakers in great numbers making breads handed down from their grandfathers and great-grandfathers, improving on the old recipes and adapting them to new technology, but always with an eye to keeping tradition alive. In Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe ‘s Best Artisan Bakers, Dan provides us with both colorful stories of the people he found — local artisans making local breads — and their treasured recipes, which he has translated for American home bakers.

I've eaten bread more than a few times in my life and it is something that I enjoy eating, particularly if it is tasty and is as far away from the taste of tasteless cardboard, as possible. Discovering new breads is a real joy. A few weeks back I was at a function here in Clunes, when someone I know wheeled out a basket full of home made Parker House rolls. If you're as up to date with breads of the world as i am, you are probably as perplexed as i was. What is a Parker House roll? (Click here and all will be revealed.)  The reason i mention these rolls is that they were quite simply outstanding in both taste and texture and they were picture book is appearance (they looked great).

Parker House rolls are not European and therefore are sadly not in this book. European bread is what this book considers in all its doughy glory. I've travelled through Europe a few times and i have to say that i don't particularly remember the breads i ate. I do remember the beers and various other bits and pieces, but bread is not something that i came back to Australia wanting to share anecdotes with others about. I wonder if that's me or was it the bread. I think we have some amazing breads from all over the world here in Australia so there is the possiblity that my taste buds were tasting what i've already known and loved for many years. This sounds a bit arrogant but seriously if you go out of your way, don't shop at a supermarket and avoid mass produced tasteless white bread, the bread here is pretty damn good. Which leads me to another theory about why i don't remember much about European bread and that has to do with knowing where to go to get the good stuff and avoiding the bad stuff. Travelling through Europe, i wasn't focussed on bread and clearly, according to this book, i have missed out. I should have been exploring the bakeries and tasting their wares...which is exactly what the author of this book did. This is something to look forward too the next time i venture forth.

Regardless of why or how i missed out on the breads of europe, this is a book filled with many varied and detailed recipes from “Europe's Best Artisan Bakers”. Maybe this is how i can taste the breads of Europe... bake them myself.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Day Of Creation by J. G. Ballard. SIGNED COPY.

The Day Of Creation by J. G. Ballard. Hardcover book published by Victor Gollancz 1987, 254 pages. SIGNED COPY.

Here at Huc & Gabet we are just a little bit excited about the new J.G. Ballard film. OK, the film is not made by Ballard (he died in 2009) but it is based on one of his magnificent books, namely, High Rise. This film is starting to get a bit of interest on the www... or maybe it's just me, a Ballard fan, wanting people to be interested. Either way, there is a film coming soon. Thinking back to the last time I read it (it was this century), I can well imagine High Rise on the screen and for some reason the image of the drowned dog is one that I hope they keep in the film.... not because I think that drowned dogs are a good thing, but rather it's a powerful image that has stuck with this High Rise reader.

Film adaptions can at times be a bit dodgy... or even a lot dodgy. A few of Ballards books have made the transition previously (Empire of the Sun and Crash). Crash in particular seems to polarise viewers. The book is about sex and car accidents and amazingly, so is the film. I guess if you don't want to watch a fetish movie about sex and car accidents then it's probably not a film for you. Personally, I thought it was a fine adaptation and yes it was a bit disturbing, a bit like the book.

I don't currently have either a copy of High Rise or Crash for sale. I do have a copy of The Day of Creation which is a later book by Mr Ballard. Here in Australia, this is not an uncommon book to find in hardcover and at a more than reasonable price. What is not that common is to find a copy that has been signed by the man himself:

Despite signed copies being uncommon here in Australia, this isn't the first copy i've found that has been signed during what was probably a promotional tour. I think it's a nice thing to have particularly if you're a fan... as I am.

I mentioned this book to a fellow bookseller the other day and his response was rather interesting. He said that he wasn't that keen on any signed copies of anything as they tended to ruin/damage a book. Despite enjoying an authors scribble, I sort of understand this concept... but that doesn't mean that I don't get excited... and it doesn't mean that one of the earlier signed copies I unearthed isn't in my personal collection.