Good Reading : November 2006
foreword It’s no use being in denial – you can kick and scream all you want, but the plain fact is that it’s That Time of Year again: the countdown to Christmas. We’ve bowed to the inevitable here and our advertising manager Beth Parton has put together a brilliant four- page pull-out Christmas gift guide that’s sure to solve some of your present-giving quandaries. And just look at the big guns the publishers have brought out for the Christmas book market fusillade: Cor mac McCarthy, Charles Frazier, Isabel Allende, Richard Flanagan, Martin Amis, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Ford, Roddy Doyle, Clive James, Henning Mankell, James Lee Burke, Andrew Klavan … it’s a feast for the mind, all right, and we’ve got them all covered. A couple of issues ago we ran an extract from More Mere Mortals by Dr Jim Leavesley, who specialises in researching the medical problems that beset real characters in history. Now, in an article written just for gr, Dr Jim looks at some of the real maladies suffered by characters in classic fiction, from Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol to poor Bertha Rochester in Jane Eyre. See if the authors got it right in his article on page 18. One of the arguments I used to have over and over again with book designers back in the days when I was a publisher was about type size. They always made the type too small. The trouble is, most book designers are youngsters straight out of art college, with 20/20 vision; most book readers and buyers belong to a somewhat more mature demographic. The large print book market in Australia is small. But as the baby boomer generation heads, very ungently, into retirement, this is bound to change. Lots of other people would benefit from larger, clearer type, too. We take a look at the scene on page 9. Robert Goddard, Lynda La Plante and Robert Wilson are three English crime writers whose work is very popular in Australia. They each have a new book out this month, all starring characters we’ve met before, and I was privileged to speak to Goddard and La Plante recently. Read their stories on pages 10, 16 and 54 respectively; they personify the adage that ‘no one does crime as well as the Brits’. (Although come to think of it, we have some Australian crime writers who could give them a run for their money, and one or two Americans aren’t half bad … and some of those Europeans ...) Seeing a glorious new book of Albert Tucker’s paintings made me realise how little I knew about this wonderful Australian artist. I’d always thought his work a bit dour and depressing, but take a look for yourselves at the reproductions on pages 46-7 and see how hopelessly wrong I was. Back to the drawing board, or into the dunce’s corner with me!
December / January 2007