Saturday, 27 June 2015

The Perfect Saturday......

Well, the weekend has come around again, (no, it's not just birthdays, holidays and high days that I make use of to feed the bookish monkey on my back, just a normal weekend is enough.....) ...and I took a Saturday off to get along to The New International Bookshop, Big Red Book Fair down on Victoria Street just on the edge of the CBD.

I got there before opening time, at 10am, and it was fortunate I did, as a crowd (or a fossick? I think that should be the collective noun...) of eager bibliophiles and book dealers were already filling the doorway! 

I was very pleased to bump into the lovely Tadhg and Rallou, husband and wife team from Fully Booked at 824 High Street Thornbury, (probably the friendliest bookshop proprietors I know) in the scrum outside, who were keen to pick up some bulk bargain gems for their store. 

Once inside, it was great, lots of bargains to be had (if you could grab them before the other book lovers...) and a really eclectic mix of titles were available. Being my first visit I was enjoying myself, but I heard later that, sadly, the event was much smaller than it had been in previous years. My source put this down to a reduction in the amount of donated material in recent years, which is a shame. I hope I haven't missed the best years of this event.

With the book-buying bit firmly between my teeth, I headed across town to the regular Saturday Fed Square Book Market in The Atrium of Federation Square. 

A few purchases, a coffee and a ham and cheese croissant later, and I headed for home, but... decided I was enjoying things so much I made a stop at The Sun Bookshop on Ballarat Street in Yarraville,  where I added to my haul of second-hand reading material with some brand new titles.

So, lots of new books later, as well as the pleasure of letting you all in on my day on here, topped off later with a bunch of collection cataloging (assisted by a cheeky bordeaux....) I reckon I'm having The Perfect Saturday.....

Stevie at BLM

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Great British Bookshops!...

Whilst preparing my little personal tour of a few bookstores back home in the UK in August, I came across this article that any UK visitors might find useful!


The Guardian Guide to Independent Bookshops in Central England...

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Dad Advice 2015....

So, to clarify, I'm not a Dad. I'm not entirely unexposed to fatherhood.... I have a Dad, I'm a Godfather, so I know something about it right?

Anyway, in England (where they always seem to have these days different to over here) it's Father's Day today. My Dad instilled in me a love of books. Combined with my Mum's pushing me to be a reader before the age of five, well, I think they created this book loving monster we see here today...

So, with all this Dad-ness in mind, here's an article relevant to said topic.... Enjoy...

Happy Father's Day Dad.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Big Red Book Fair 2015......

For those of you that didn't see it on our Facebook page, here... 

Saturday 27th June sees The New International Bookshop Big Red Book Fair 2015! 

Well worth a visit for Melbourne bibliophiles!!!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

49 For Me..111 For Leopold.....

Today is my birthday, forty nine years and counting. Now the mathematically talented among you might be able to work out from that information that I was born on 16th day of the 6th month 1966... Guess what I think my lucky numbers are?....

But it doesn't end there... Today, as many of you will be aware, is the 111th anniversary of Bloomsday, the day when the world, and Dublin in particular, salutes the literary genius of James Joyce. First published in 1922, (by Shakespeare & Company Paris) Ulysses takes place through the day of June 16th 1904, in Dublin. The name derives from the book's main protagonist, Leopold Bloom.

Ulysses, is considered to be the greatest novel of the 20th century in some quarters, for many others it's a journey they failed to finish. 

For some it is a book that sits on one's bookshelf, not to be read, but to act as a beacon to visitors, speaking to the supposed erudition of the homeowner. Whilst this might not seem a particularly noble use for any book, Ulysses did actually set a precedent in this regard, insomuch as in it's early days it was often displayed on bookshelves openly by those wishing to protest its banning in many countries.   As much a symbol of solidarity with the freedom of expression and art as a choice of reading material.

So, back to me... well it's my birthday... What does a book lover do on his birthday? You guessed it... I spent my day in a few of Melbourne's great independent bookshops! 

I picked up a couple of gems from one of my long time favourite venues, Grub St Bookshop on Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, and discovered from proprietor, Justin, that the business is up for sale!! Fear not book lovers, the intention is to sell as a going concern, so if any of you out there fancy becoming the proprietor of one of Melbourne's most iconic book stores, now's your chance! 

I also visited another favourite, Alice's Bookshop in Rathdowne Street North Carlton. There is change afoot here too, as the business has recently changed hands but is still one of the best second-hand bookstores in the city.

Next up was a new discovery for me, (I know, I'm still coming across bookstores in this city I didn't know existed!) Red Wheelbarrow Books on Lygon Street Brunswick. Proprietor Paul not only has a great selection of second-hand books, he also has his own live-in novelist in the form of his wife, Catherine De Saint Phalle, who will be launching her novel On Brunswick Ground on Thursday 2nd July at the store. 

Finally I made a visit to Brown & Bunting Booksellers on High Street Northcote, I managed to limit myself to just four books there...

So... back to the numbers thing, my D.O.B is 16/6/66, Im 49 today, Bloomsday is (technically) 111 today, 49+111=160, I bought 16 books today, and I promise I hadn't counted until I got home.... I'm a cynic about almost everything by nature... but these numbers sure to get spooky sometimes;-)

Happy reading
Stevie at BLM

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

My Week In Books Number.... Ok....I Lost Count...

So this week, I've been reading (no big surprise there...) but this time a couple of things you might not expect.

Top of the pile is Christopher Fowler's Bryant & May novel White Corridor. True to my last article... I'm still hooked on this series...

Below that you'll possibly be a bit surprised to see I'm giving the Game Of Thrones series a go! I know, I'm a little late to the party on this one but I'm up to date with the TV show, so thought it's time to do the right thing and get back on the fantasy fiction bus that I jumped clear of almost twenty years ago!  So far so good....

Next up, I've just started Agatha Christie's The Big Four, in Penguin of course, for that authentic book geek look on the train....

Next on reading pile is an early birthday pressies from my in-laws, who, with collusion and shelf checking by my wife, managed to find a book to add to my collection on the subject of London that I didn't already have: Lost London 1870-1945 by Philip Davies

The final surprise out of the literary bag this week is The New Yorker.... Yes, I know, not actually books per-se, but I gave myself the treat of a subscription recently and there is some great fiction and current affairs writing in there, as well of loads of cartoons, (most of which you'll only get if you read American newspapers everyday...which I don't...) 

So that's what I'm reading this week, and for the short term future too... How about you?

Friday, 5 June 2015

Author Interview... Christopher Fowler... Heir To The Christie Throne...?

Those of you that regularly read the BLM blog will know I've recently become a fan of Christopher Fowler's Bryant & May series of detective novels.

Revolving around the Peculiar Crimes Unit based above Mornington Crescent tube station in one of London's coolest districts, (any of you who've been there will know what Camden is all about...) the Bryant & May series consists, to date, of a dozen novels. I've only read the first four myself, and, frankly, I'm hooked.

I took the liberty of dropping the author, Christopher Fowler, an email and within a very short time he replied! (One of the great things about being a fan of authors rather than film/tv stars, is that they return your emails...).

I've recently finished Seventy Seven Clocks, third, chronologically in the series and the fourth I've read myself. I'm not going to beat around the bush, this is the best crime/murder mystery/thriller fiction book I've read in recent years. Christopher Fowler demonstrates the skills that Agatha Christie did seventy years ago, only better for my money. He has a touch of comedic genius I've rarely found in a Christie novel and he has attention to local detail that makes anyone who has lived a London life, really feel London. 

As well as the famed detective pair, he has produced a large and varied body of work through his career, working in the film industry extensively, in radio and also prolifically in periodical and newspaper publications. 

So... having got Christopher Fowler's attention, I was able to ask him a few questions... 

BLM:  Hi Christopher, welcome to Book Lovers Melbourne, I'll start off with something obvious, what do you read for pleasure?

CF: A mix of new novels (crime, non-fiction, mainstream fiction) and forgotten authors. I run a weekly column called ‘Invisible Ink’, about missing writers, in the Independent on Sunday. Right now I’m enjoying Pamela Branch’s wonderful farcical crime novels, now forgotten.

BLM: Having found yourself producing a very successful series in Bryant & May, do you find them having an impact on your other work? 

CF: I try to keep my other work entirely separate, but stand-alone novels (which I always produced before B&M) fight for shelf-space whereas a well-reviewed series will get stocked. But the two are very different. I have a thriller out later this year called ‘The Sand Men’, set in the Middle East which is far, in every sense, from the London novels.

BLM: Do you take inspiration from any real people in your life for any of your main characters?

CF: I’m notorious for using my friends’ traits, but I combine them with characters I’ve seen in films or read about. I also add current villains or heroes from London’s news. I like topicality, although it tends to place a time limit on your books.

BLM: For a reader who’s yet to step outside of the world of Bryant & May, where would be the best place to start exploring your other work? 

CF: My personal favourites are first, ‘Paperboy’ and its sequel ‘Film Freak’, then ‘Calabash’, ‘Pyschoville’ and ‘Spanky’. 

BLM: You refer to yourself as a ‘movie obsessive’… Do you prefer movies over books?

CF: No, but I have very different agendas. I watch mostly world cinema, with only a very few Hollywood films thrown in. I love Spanish cinema right now, so I suppose my taste in films is as abstruse as my book choices.

BLM: Are you Bryant? Or May? Or both/neither? 

CF: I’m May. My deceased business partner is Bryant (so much so that I put a photograph of him in one of the novels, and he was the model for my graphic novel version ‘The Casebook of Bryant & May’). 

BLM: There has been some great cover art to the B&M novels. How much control do you have over the cover art? 

CF: Quite a bit. The first, ‘Full Dark House’, was glorious but the artist promptly retired, so the second one was a disaster. Then we were lucky enough to find David Frankland for the rest of the series, but now he’s just retired as well! I’m devastated, but I think we may have found someone to take on the style. The covers of the US editions are very different and not to my taste, but they sell well! Hopefully we’ll change them. Before the B&M books I used a barking mad German photographer called Jay Eff, who got us all arrested – but that’s another story.

BLM: Which book do you wish you’d written? ‘

CF: Gormenghast’ by Mervyn Peake. It’s a nightmarish novel for anyone who dislikes descriptive passages, but I learn from it all the time.

BLM: Your love of London comes across vividly in your novels. If you could only direct a tourist to three places in London, which would they be?

CF: Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the only part of London that isn’t being wrecked at the moment. The South Bank for its buzz and energy, although its past is being fast obliterated, and Regent’s Park, a prime example of the Englishness of London’s open spaces. London is still the greenest city in Europe. 

BLM: ‘Invisible Ink’ is one of your projects that I came across that sounds fascinating to a avid book fossicker. Can you tell our readers more about it? 

CF: It’s about the popular books that were influential and often hugely successful, but vanished from bookshelves. Adopting false identities, switching genders, losing fortunes, descending into alcoholism, discovering new careers, getting censored, going mad or reinventing themselves, the missing authors have stories to tell which are as surprising than anything they wrote. One dated a porn star, one became the subject of a sex scandal, one was involved with a murderer, and one turned out to be Winston Churchill. Some chose their own fates, some were simply unlucky, but most should be remembered and revered by book lovers. Now, thanks to dedicated publishers, collectors and new technology, many of the books which were lost for so long can be rediscovered.

BLM: Was there ever a moment in time when we might have ended up reading about the adventures of Tate & Lyle rather than Bryant & May?

CF: Good God no! The history of Tate is the story of sugar and therefore of the slave trade. The sugar company amassed a huge art collection from its trade and founded – you guessed it – the Tate Gallery. So Britain’s art owes its existence to slavery.

BLM: In an unlimited budget movie series version of Bryant & May who would play the leads? 

CF: My old pal Jude Law would make a suitably aged-up Mr May (it’s an energetic role, after all). Bryant was down for Derek Jacobi – now I’d probably go for Toby Jones.

BLM: What is your personal favourite bookshop in London? 

CL: Foyles, without question. I’ve been going there since I was five. Its staff are wonderful.

Thanks for your time Christopher, for the latest on Christopher's work, and for a great blog, click here!