BOOK REVIEW: Deco Radio by Peter Sheridan (Review by Caroline Baum)

Peter Sheridan

Peter Sheridan

Peter Sheridan is a man possessed by a peculiar but persistent affection for bakelite – the world’s first synthetic plastic. To some, this material may appear unlovely and charmless, but to Sheridan it is the stuff of poetry. As a result, he has become one of the world’s foremost collectors of objects made from this versatile and resilient man-made resin.

A genial enthusiast, the curator of his own private museum, Sheridan is equally happy to share his passion with complete amateurs and connoisseurs alike. Ask casually about any of the three hundred radios displayed in his Sydney home and you will get their history, provenance, and a surprising anecdote that explains their shape, colour or origin. He is a competitive bidder, an astute buyer, always on the trail of a new acquisition and has some sound advice for aspiring collectors which he shares in the text that punctuates this sleek but hefty coffee table book.

Showcasing what he calls the most beautiful radios ever made, Sheridan has photographed them with loving care in close up, so that every feature is shown to best advantage. They have sexy curves, voluptuous bodies, and come in a wide range of colours – forget about bakelite brown, the greens and reds really pop. Shot against deep dramatic black they gleam on the page like jewels.

Their shapes reflect what was happening in industrial design, fashion and popular culture with style and humour. My favourite has a mantel (casing) that features the mesh silhouette of a woman’s head.

Sheridan’s lively text is a timely reminder of how central radio was to the lives of people around the world back in the early twentieth century ; how they were the source of pleasure , broadcasting live entertainment and music that people listened and danced to in their homes as well as including declarations of war that shaped the century and changed lives forever. The radio was the vehicle of coded messages and signals to allied troops and resistance fighters. Under the Nazi regime, being caught listening to the enemy was punishable by death.

Anyone with a nostalgic interest or enthusiasm for the glorious heyday of art deco and its sleek modernity will find this irresistible.


deco-radioDeco Radio

by Peter Sheridan

With 380 brilliant photos and engaging text, this book presents some 300 of the rarest and most beautiful radios ever made for home or workplace. The advent of the small, mantle or tabletop radio in 1930 gave a huge impetus to the spread of radio, not only allowing multiple sets in the home, but changing the listener from the family to the individual. This book highlights a small subset of tube (valve) radios that incorporated new styling, materials, and approaches to consumer marketing in the 1930s and 1940s. Until now they have been underrated by many radio enthusiasts, and largely unrecognized in the world of Art Deco and Industrial Design. The radios of 35 industrial designers, including the luminaries of streamlining in the USA and UK (Loewy, Bel Geddes, Teague, Van Doren, Vassos, Coates, and Chermayeff) are identified and examples from 15 countries are stunningly displayed.

About the Author

Peter Sheridan is a respected historian, lecturer, and author, with a collection of radios considered one of the world’s finest. His highly acclaimed book Radio Days–Australian Bakelite Radios (2008) is the standard reference for Australian radio collectors. A member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers, Peter’s photos are used by media, museums, and specialist publications.

 Click here to grab a copy of Deco Radio 

Sally Murphy, author of Roses are Blue, answers Ten Terrifying Questions.

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Sally Murphy

author of Roses are Blue, Pearl Versus the World and more…

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born and raised in Western Australia, spending most of my childhood in the Southwest town of Collie. I spent my last two years of schooling at boarding school in Perth, which I hated at the time, because I was terribly homesick, but where I had some wonderful moments in the library, which was my salvation.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be an author. When I was twelve, my plan was to write kids’ books. How wonderful it would be to write books that other people loved as much as the one I was reading. In the school holidays I wrote novels, stories and poems on an old typewriter, some of which I still have.

By the time I was 18 I’d realised that I might need another job apart from being an author, though that was still my dream. So I thought I’d become a journalist, because that would enable to me to make a living from writing.

When I was 30 I was a full time mum also pursuing my writing dreams. By then I’d had my first educational books published, but I was yet to have my first trade title published, so was desperately trying to figure out how and why.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Author: Sally Murphy

I am ashamed to admit that I remember proudly proclaiming that I was not a feminist. I had been fed the crock that feminism was a dirty word and not the same thing as believing women had the right to be equal. Instead, feminists were radical, man-hating and doing women a disservice.

Gosh how naïve I was, and how sad I am that there are still women who think feminism is something negative.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

While I love music and art, for me the biggest impact by far has been from books. Not surprisingly, because I write for children, the biggest impact has come from books for young people. There was a book called Mandy, by Julie Andrews Edwards (who, I later realised, was THE Julie Andrews), which I read when I was quite young and absolutely adored. It’s the first novel I remember reading and loving so much that I wished I’d written it. So, as a 7 year old, I wrote my own version of this story, which I called Tereasa. I still have my own version, and a few years ago tracked down a copy of Mandy.

Even before Mandy, I absolutely adored Horton Hatches an Egg, a Dr Seuss story, and knew it by heart. Later it was one of the first books I tracked down for my first child. I loved the playfulness and rhythm, but I think the sense of justice also appealed to me. As a writer, I want children and adults alike to smile when they read my work, even when I’m addressing really serious issues.

Like many many readers To Kill a Mockingbird is a book which moved me incredibly. Again, there is that sense of justice and wisdom as well as wonderful character development and weaving of a powerful story. The fact that it also gets better on rereading is also a testament to the quality of the writing. I studied it several times at school, taught it as a teacher, and yet have never tired of it. As a writer I want to create books which do those things: entertain and move people, stay with them, and also inspire them to read and reread.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

Writing is my thing. The other arts have never captured me in the same way as writing, which I’ve been doing since before I could actually form legible words.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Roses are Blue is a verse novel about a young girl coping with the fallout of her mother’s terrible car accident. Everything in Amber’s life has changed, but nothing so much as her mother, who has been left badly disabled.  Whilst this sounds pretty grim, the aim of the story is to show that even in such a terrible set of circumstances there can be hope, and means of coping.

Grab a copy of Sally’s latest novel Roses are Blue here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

Hope. I want readers, of whatever age, to see that although life can throw pretty big curveballs, there is always hope. My verse novels often move people to tears, but I want them to smile, too.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Glenda Millard. She is an Australian writer of the most amazingly moving and uplifting children’s books. Her talent is amazing, and she’s a lovely person, warm and generous. When I grow up, I want to be Glenda.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

Gosh. Ambitious goals? Now the pressure’s on! I just want to always keep improving. I want to make my writing better and better and keep surprising myself with new things to try. Of course, stemming from this, I want to keep finding readers enjoy my work.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Love what you do. Write the stuff you love to read, be true to yourself and have fun. Also, though, don’t expect it to be easy. You will be rejected and, when you’re accepted, editors will make you change stuff, reviewers won’t always like your work and your sales are never as much as you’d like them to be. Take these things as a challenge to keep working, keep improving, rather than a sign of some terrible plot against you. Because, when you love what you are doing, and you keep doing it, then you stick at it until the magic day when you are both published AND read.

Sally, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Roses are Blue here


Roses are Blue

by Sally Murphy

From the award-winning author of Pearl Verses the World and Toppling comes a story about resilience and the importance of family.

“I have not got used to my new mum, even though I love her (I absolutely love her), I miss my happy, painting, dancing, gardening, smiling mum.” Amber Rose and her family are dealing with tragedy and change. But sometimes hope suddenly blooms

About the Author

Sally Murphy is a mother, wife, teacher, speaker, website manager, reviewer, and, of course, author. She was born in Perth and now lives in Dalyellup, Western Australia. Her first illustrated verse novel with Walker Books Australia, Pearl Verses the World (illustrated by Heather Potter) won the children’s book category for the Indie Book of the Year awards, 2009; was awarded Honour Book in the Younger Readers category, Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards, 2010; and won the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards, 2010, Best Book for Language Development, Upper Primary (8-12 years). Toppling (illustrated by Rhian Nest James) has won the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, Children’s Book – Mary Ryan’s Award, 2010 and the Children’s Book for the 2010 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards.

 Grab a copy of Roses are Blue here

Never Mind the Bollocks – Here are Andrew’s Favourite Books of 2014

Favourite BooksThe downside of working in such an exciting place that is growing faster than rhubarb in the dark (look it up, it’s a thing) is that because you’re always on your toes, always being presented with new challenges…

…you’re always trying to find the precious time to read.

But never fear. I’ve managed to squeeze in some fantastic books this year, and I think I’d share my 10 favourite ones with you.

So here they are.


loyal-creaturesLoyal Creatures

by Morris Gleitzman

I read Loyal Creatures the night before interviewing Morris Gleitzman for Booktopia TV. I was terrified at the prospect of grilling one of my childhood heroes. Within a few pages I completely lost myself in the book.

It’s a gorgeous read, another incredible effort from Gleitzman, and I genuinely had to hold back tears at the end of the book.

Click here for more about Loyal Creatures


the-sex-lives-of-siamese-twinsThe Sex Lives of Siamese Twins

by Irvine Welsh

You really should find time to read this caustic gem from Irvine Welsh, although perhaps not at the gym, or an organic cafe, or while watching The Biggest Loser. I say that because Welsh shines his light on the world of militant self-improvement and you may not recover in time.

If you’ve read Welsh, you know what to expect and won’t be disappointed. The only surprise will be just how much he’s matured as a writer, how adept he’s become at taking on the voice of his characters. Sometimes it only takes a mirror to see just how bizarre the world is becoming.

Click here for more about The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins


your-fathers-where-are-they-and-the-prophets-do-they-live-forever-Your Fathers, Where are They?

by Dave Eggers

The full name of Dave Eggers’ work is Your Fathers, Where are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? Such is his sense of humour I suspect he’s put together this ridiculously long title just to make end of year lists awkward. In fact I’m sure that’s why, and I love him all the more for it.

Made up entirely of dialogue, Your Fathers shines a light in uncomfortable corners while being raucously funny in many places. It’s an easy read in a sense, the real work comes from the time you have to yourself after reading it, reflecting on the world Eggers toys with. If you watch the news and don’t know whether to laugh or cry, this is the book for you.

Click here for more about Your Fathers, Where are They?


a-little-historyA Little History

by Bleddyn Butcher

If the inclusion of this in my ‘best of’ list wasn’t a big enough clue, I’m a pretty gigantic Nick Cave fan. A Little History is an intimate look at the career of Cave and his closest collaborators over the years.

It’s easy to forget how long Nick Cave has been on the scene, his music has always been so innovative and relevant throughout the years. This is a must have for all Birthday Party, Bad Seeds, and Grinderman fans. Cavesters will know what I’m talking about.

Click here for more about A Little History


colorless-tsukuru-tazaki-and-his-years-of-pilgrimageColorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

by Haruki Murakami

I include this in my list with a caveat. You see I was not, as so many others professed to being, disappointed by Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Year of Pilgrimage. The reason is simple, if a little bit of a backhand to Murakami.

I don’t consider him to be a truly great writer.

I think he’s good, very good in fact. Norwegian Wood is one of my favourite books. I don’t, however, think he’s an immortal of the craft. If you are expecting Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki to be one of the one of the finest works of literature created, it’s not. That work only happens once in a generation.

Books are best enjoyed if you’re able to separate the work from the creator, unburden yourself from the shackles of expectation and enjoy the book purely for what is between the covers. If you do that, I’ve no doubt you’ll love Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Year of Pilgrimage, the themes of loneliness and belonging that it ponders, and agree with me that it is comfortably one of the best books of 2014.

Click here for more about Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki


foreign-soilForeign Soil

by Maxine Beneba Clarke

I was privileged to have had the opportunity to not just meet Maxine Beneba Clarke, but interview her for Booktopia TV. It was in the middle of a busy Sydney Writer’s Festival but her energy and enthusiasm for the craft of writing was amazing. I’ve read many short story collections this year, but Foreign Soil was my favourite.

Putting aside just how wonderful her prose is, how seamless her transition between characters and voices is, so much of Beneba Clarke’s stories are for the voiceless and the downtrodden. I’ve no doubt she will fast become one of Australia’s most influential and important writers. I can’t wait to read more from her.

Click here for more about Foreign Soil


lists-of-noteLists of Note

by Shaun Usher

In case you forgot, what you are reading is a list. In all likelihood only my mother and my year 7 English teacher thinks it is of note.

I love lists, I adore High Fidelity almost entirely for the constant lists. I can’t get enough of them, and it seems some of history’s most important figures feel the same way. If there was a museum dedicated to lists (if there isn’t already) this book would be the guidebook. I lost myself for hours in this incredible collection, dedicated entirely to the list.

There’s a list of ‘available names’ Charles Dickens compiled for possible characters in his fiction, Galileo’s list of parts needed to build his telescope, a list of dream lovers a pre-fame Marilyn Monroe wrote with a friend. Quite literally, the lists go on. I absolutely adore this unique collection.

Click here for more about Lists of Note


my-salinger-yearMy Salinger Year

by Joanna Rakoff

For me, my love of books expands far beyond the reading and writing. I’m intrigued by every aspect of their creation. The life of a writer, the printing process, the cover design, the editing process, acquisition meetings…

…and of course, the literary agency responsible for making and breaking so many writers.

This is a beautiful, funny, and at times melancholy look into the world of a New York literary agency in the early 90s, desperately trying to hold onto the ideals of the past. There are long lunches, huge slush piles and not a computer in sight. Oh, and did I mention J.D. Salinger rings occasionally? One for the real booklovers.

Click here for more about My Salinger Year


not-that-kind-of-girlNot That Kind of Girl

by Lena Dunham

How did she do it? How can Lena Dunham have all those expectations and all that money thrown at her (a rumoured advance of over $4mil), and somehow manage to write a brilliantly raw and honest memoir before she’s even turned 30?

I loved Not That Kind of Girl. It reminded me of how important brutal honesty is in any kind of writing, let alone memoirs. It establishes a theme and, despite what seems like endless digressions, never loses its footing. It’s an amazing piece of work. Shockingly funny like few books I’ve read. Incredible stuff.

Click here for more about Not That Kind of Girl


golden-boysGolden Boys

by Sonya Hartnett

Golden Boys is the best novel I’ve read in 2014. There, I said it. I admired Sonya Hartnett’s writing before, now I idolise it. A tender, and at times savage, exploration of lost innocence, told from the eyes of a small group of children in the suburbs of Australia.

Please, I’m begging you, grab a copy of this book and read it. It’s extraordinary. Don’t be put off by the tough subject matter, this is what fiction is for. Exploring worlds we dare not explore ourselves, hearing stories we’d usually shield our ears from. Last year I called The Narrow Road to the Deep North the best novel I’d read for the year, and I’m doing the same for Golden Boys in 2014. A remarkable book.

Click here for more about Golden Boys

The Hercule Poirot Boxset – A must for every fan!

Agatha Christie’s lovable creation Hercule Poirot is one of crime fiction’s most memorable characters. Methodical and meticulous, he has inspired countless imitators in books and on screen. The Hercule Poirot Boxed Set brings together some of Christie’s most iconic Poirot cases as he utilises his “little grey cells” to find the culprit.

PS: We ran a Facebook competition recently to find the biggest Poirot fan out there, congrats to  Trudy Schmitzer on being a winner! Trudy, please email us at promos@booktopia.com.au with your details.

1402_A G O T_PBb.inddHercule Poirot Boxed Set

Seven Classic Hercule Poirot Mysteries

by Agatha Christie

A new paperback slipcase featuring seven of Hercule Poirot’s very best cases. ‘My name is Hercule Poirot and I am probably the greatest detective in the world.’

This new boxed set of paperbacks collects seven of Hercule Poirot’s most famous and best-loved cases, perfect for readers who who would like to be introduced – or introduce their friends – to some of the twentieth century’s most iconic murder books.

Murder on the Orient Express, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The ABC Murders, Five Little Pigs and Hercule Poirot’s Christmas are accompanied by the book that started it all, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which is published for the first time complete with its original courtroom ending, and Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case, in which Poirot and Hastings are reunited for a final time in the house where they solved their first case together.

Grab your Hercule Poirot Boxed Set here

7PM INTERVIEW: Monica McInerney on writing, family, and the joys of a middle childhood

Warm, witty, fun and clever, author Monica McInerney would be a great best friend to have. How nice to be able to turn to Monica for advice about family, love, life and friendship whenever we needed it! She is so heart smart!

Alas, we can’t all have Monica in our life. Thank goodness we have her novels. They are the next best thing to having a 24hr on call Monica… and they have sold hundreds of thousands of copies here and in the UK.

On her recent Australian tour, Monica sat down with John Purcell to talk about her new novel, Hello from the Gillespies…

Click here for more details or to buy Hello from the GillespiesHello from the Gillespies

By Monica McInerney

For more than thirty years, Angela Gillespie has sent friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled ‘Hello from the Gillespies’. It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself – she tells the truth.

The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping poorly with retirement. Her 32-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when Angela is taken from them in a most unexpected manner, the Gillespies pull together – and pull themselves together – in wonderfully surprising ways.

Janella Purcell visits Booktopia – Signed copies available!

Janella Purcell lives the life we all want to lead. Healthy, happy and full of food!

She made a special trip from the Mid-North Coast to Booktopia to sign some copies of her bestselling new book Janella’s Super Natural Foods and teach our Incompetent Cook a thing or two about the most important meal of the day, Breakfast!

Janella is all about making food that is healthy AND easy, with over 150 recipes and countless variations for vegetarians, vegans and even plain old omnivores.

Kickstart your New Year with Janella’s Super Natural Foods, we certainly will be!


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janella-s-super-natural-foods-signed-copies-available-Janella’s Super Natural Foods

Keeping it deliciously simple is Janella’s healthy food philosophy. Using many superfoods and grains, she has created over 150 fantastic recipes that the whole family will love.

Superfoods. Food as medicine. Supergrains. Fermented foods. Wholefoods. Keep it simple.

In Janella’s Super Natural Foods every recipe will help you to achieve better health and beauty.

With over 150 delicious recipes for healthy breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, snacks, drinks and sauces, Janella uses wholefoods to satisfy everyone. A dynamic mix of superfoods and a good old-fashioned plant-based diet, Janella’s philosophy of using food as medicine is simple and easy to follow.

Many of the recipes have been influenced by Janella’s travels to Italy, Japan, India, the Middle East and South East Asia – healthy food has never been so tantalising nor so easy to create in your kitchen. Clearly marked throughout with symbols for gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, raw, soy-free, nut-free or grain-free, each recipe also contains alternative ingredient suggestions to please all your friends and family.

As a talented naturopath, nutritionist, wellness coach, herbalist and environmentalist, Janella Purcell is eager to share her wealth of knowledge and experience. Her passion for cooking and keeping things simple means that staying healthy has never been easier.

Grab your copy of Janella’s Super Natural Foods here

7PM INTERVIEW: Peter Fitzsimons and Andrew Cattanach discuss Peter’s new book Gallipoli

Some interviews are easier than others. While one could be like two old friends reuniting and having a chat over a beer. Another could be like stepping into a lion’s den. Taming the enthusiastic and exuberant red banner wearing Peter Fitzsimons was always going to be a challenge. He’s so passionate about his subject. So we sent in our most genial of interviewers, Mr Andrew Cattanach. And what do you know, the plucky little guy did the job.

Click here for more details or to buy Gallipoli

Gallipoli

By Peter Fitzsimons

On 25 April 1915, Allied forces landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in present-day Turkey to secure the sea route between Britain and France in the west and Russia in the east. After eight months of terrible fighting, they would fail.

Turkey regards the victory to this day as a defining moment in its history, a heroic last stand in the defence of the nation’s Ottoman Empire. But, counter-intuitively, it would signify something perhaps even greater for the defeated Australians and New Zealanders involved: the birth of their countries’ sense of nationhood.

Now approaching its centenary, the Gallipoli campaign, commemorated each year on Anzac Day, reverberates with importance as the origin and symbol of Australian and New Zealand identity. As such, the facts of the battle – which was minor against the scale of the First World War and cost less than a sixth of the Australian deaths on the Western Front – are often forgotten or obscured. Peter FitzSimons, with his trademark vibrancy and expert melding of writing and research, recreates the disaster as experienced by those who endured it or perished in the attempt.

Order your copy of Gallipoli here

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