Jaclyn Moriarty, author of A Corner of White, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Jaclyn Moriarty

author of A Corner of White,Feeling Sorry for CeliaDreaming of Amelia and many 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 in Perth, grew up in Sydney, and was educated at Mount Saint Benedict Catholic Girls’ School in Pennant Hills, and then at Sydney University, Yale and Cambridge.

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

At twelve, writer, astronomer, movie star, pilot.

At eighteen, writer, psychologist, film director, criminal lawyer.

At thirty, independently wealthy.

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

That I would never get any wrinkles.

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

- Virginia Woolf - A Room of One’s Own
- Dylan ThomasUnder Milk Wood
- The Breakfast Club
- New Order’s ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’
- Suzanne Vega’s ‘Gypsy’
- Everything that Chopin wrote in the minor key

That’s more than three, sorry.

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

It’s very kind of you, but why do you think I had innumerable artistic avenues open to me? I can’t draw or paint (my six-year-old has trouble hiding his disappointment at my helicopters), I can’t sing a note (my high school piano teacher was fascinated), I can’t act (well, secretly, I hope I just haven’t been discovered yet), I can’t dance (no rhythm or coordination – although, again, secretly I think that with the right teacher …), can’t compose nocturnes, can’t play the ukelele etc, etc. Writing a novel was the only thing left.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

A Corner of White is the first in a trilogy set partly in our world and partly in an imaginary Kingdom called Cello. A girl named Madeleine who lives in Cambridge, England starts writing letters to a boy named Elliot who lives in the Farms, Kingdom of Cello, through a crack that has opened up between their worlds in a parking meter. Madeleine has run away from home, accidentally bringing her mother with her: they used to be wealthy but now live in a small attic flat and eat beans. Meanwhile, in Cello, Elliot’s father has disappeared. Nobody knows if he has run away with a high school physics teacher or been taken by a Purple in the Colour attack that killed Elliot’s uncle.

(BBGuru: here is the publisher’s blurb -

She knew this.
That philematology is the science of kissing.
That Samuel Langhorne Clemens is better known as Mark Twain.
That, originally, gold comes from the stars.

Madeleine Tully lives in Cambridge, England, the World – a city of spires, Isaac Newton and Auntie’s Tea Shop.

Elliot Baranski lives in Bonfire, the Farms, the Kingdom of Cello – where seasons roam, the Butterfly Child sleeps in a glass jar, and bells warn of attacks from dangerous Colours.

They are worlds apart – until a crack opens up between them; a corner of white – the slim seam of a letter.

Elliot begins to write to Madeleine, the Girl-in-the-World – a most dangerous thing to do for suspected cracks must be reported and closed.

But Elliot’s father has disappeared and Madeleine’s mother is sick.

Can a stranger from another world help to unravel the mysteries in your own? Can Madeleine and Elliot find the missing pieces of themselves before it is too late?

A mesmerising story of two worlds; the cracks between them, the science that binds them and the colours that infuse them.)

Click here to buy A Corner of White from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

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

A belief in my characters and their world, and hopefully some fondness for both.

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

My sisters, Liane and Nicola Moriarty, because they are two of the greatest living beings. Diana Wynne Jones, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Louis Sachar, Rachel Cohn for their imagination, warmth, humour and cracking intelligence. Lorrie Moore and Lisa Moore for exquisite prose and prising open the reader’s heart. J.K. Rowling for the strength she must have had to finish Harry Potter while the whole world crowded into her study to watch, and for writing exactly what she wanted next, while the whole world hovered at her window, waiting.

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

Secretly I’d like to write books that have made people as happy as some books have made me, or that rescue people in ways that books have rescued me. My other goals are to learn to play the cello, speak French and Italian, understand quantum mechanics, and make enough money to see the world first class and to see the sea from my window every other day.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write a journal every day but don’t narrate what you did that day—choose one small, unexpected incident, or one character you met during the day and describe it. Drink a lot of water, run up and down stairs, draw colourful pictures, read poetry, dance without caring that you can’t.

Jaclyn, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy A Corner of White from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

REVIEW: On Warne (Review by Andrew Cattanach)

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS GRATUITOUS MAN LOVE.

Imagine two men. One capable of changing history with drift and turn from the rough, the other capable of making it riveting to those who think drift and turn from the rough was illegal in Tasmania until 1997. Imagine they meet, one as artist, the other his subject. Imagine no longer.

I will say from the outset that I think Gideon Haigh is the cat’s pyjamas. His writing has enthralled me for many years and a better wordsmith equipped with knowledge of the Duckworth-Lewis system there is not. His catalogue of writing on subjects other than cricket (I’m looking at you The Office) is worthy of hearty literary servitude, however his musings on the mystical art of bat and ball are simply peerless. He is at the front, speeding away. Daylight is a distant second.

The same can be said of the Sultan of Spin, Shane Warne. Once a full-time cricketer/part-time celebrity and now a full-time celebrity/part-time cricketer. Once he had a case of VB on his arm where Liz Hurley now resides, and for all the battering headlines and inescapable SMS-capades he seems to be doing better than ever. I feel I’m not alone in asking, precisely in the name of the lord, how?

I’ll warn those who do cartwheels when reading of mudslinging there is little of it in the folds of this book. This book is far, far better than that. For all of Haigh’s occasional excursions into Warne’s personal life, one that cast such a shadow over his achievements and eventual captaincy aspirations; rumours are treated as rumours and facts respected as fact. Haigh is clearly not here to make friends though via his measured, thoughtful insight he is unlikely to make any enemies either.

On Warne is a relentless page turner, a lamentable rarity in today’s sporting catalogue about to fill Santa-faced stockings throughout the country. Split into sections exploring the beginnings of Warne’s career, his rise to national honours, his turbulent personal life, the relationships with team mates and the press. On Warne never has a dull moment much like the man. Lest we forget Shane Warne has been both the highest paid cricketer of his generation and also a prime-time talk show host, albeit one whose weaknesses were widely-documented.

Cricket brings out your deepest secrets and lays them on the pitch. How you play the game is an intimate expression of who you are. Should you wander past a suburban cricket ground and see a figure, cap on, charging the bowler, swinging wildly at the ball, throwing caution to the wind you can bet he won’t come off and dive into a copy of War and Peace. Similarly a bowler who takes near hours to meticulously set his field, mechanically sprint up and deliver a spell of slow-medium bowling that could hit a five cent piece at will is unlikely to be up on drunk and disorderly charges anytime soon. So where does the line between Shane Warne, the womanising drunkard begin and Shane Warne, one of the most intelligent bowlers and most astute captains of our time end? Where does it begin to blur, or are they somehow one in the same?

Part biography, part essay, part coaching manual, part anthropological study, On Warne is so many things. For the cricket lover it is the one book that breaks barriers down between the freakish ability of Warne and the simplicity of a man who loves his craft like few others. For the cricket novice there is no finer chronicle of the moments he created and the men he embraced and spurned alike.

But most of all, for those who don’t understand why Shane Warne continues to be such a topic of discourse,  I can think of no better place to point you than Gideon Haigh’s On Warne.

Click here to buy On Warne from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

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VIDEO INTERVIEW: Caroline Baum talks to Judith Lucy – Australia Funniest Spiritual Guide

DRINK, SMOKE, PASS OUT – An Unlikely Spiritual Journey

by Judith Lucy

Caroline Baum: I wasn’t sure whether Judith Lucy’s deadpan drollery would work as well on the page as it does in her stand up shows and TV series. But the good news is it does. She had me giggling helplessly in chapter one, and it doesn’t let up.

She doesn’t spare herself. In fact she lays herself bare in all her drunken mess as she stumbles and staggers her way towards spiritual enlightenment. Intoxicated, needy, confused, vulnerable and endowed with a heightened sense of absurdity which just about rescues her from toppling over the edge, she is raw in her revelations without it ever feeling ickily self-indulgent as it would if she were some gushy over-sharing US soapie star .

You don’t have to be on a search for meaning or interested in religious belief to find this highly entertaining – sceptics and heathens included.

Blurb: At last, a book about life that discusses liquor and lovemaking as much as it does the point of it all.

Judith Lucy has looked everywhere for happiness. Growing up a Catholic, she thought about becoming a nun, and later threw herself into work, finding a partner and getting off her face. Somehow, none of that worked.

So lately, she’s been asking herself the big questions. Why are we here? Is there a God? What happens when we die? And why can’t she tell you what her close friends believe in, but she can tell you which ones have herpes? No-one could have been more surprised than Judith when she started to find solace and meaning in yoga and meditation, and a newfound appreciation for what others get from their religion.

In her first volume of memoir, the bestselling The Lucy Family Alphabet, Judith dealt with her parents. In Drink, Smoke, Pass Out, she tries to find out if there’s more to life than wanting to suck tequila out of Ryan Gosling’s navel. With disarming frankness and classic dry wit, she reviews the major paths of her life and, alarmingly, finds herself on a journey.

Click here to buy Drink, Smoke, Pass Out from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Matthew Mitcham, Olympic Gold Medallist and author of Twists and Turns, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

 The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Matthew Mitcham

Olympic Gold Medallist
and author of Twists and Turns

Ten Terrifying Questions

 ————————

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

All in Brisbane. QEII (coopers plains), raised in Camp Hill (I had no chance to be straight!) educated at Mansfield SHS.

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

12: rich, 18: famous. 30: rich and famous.

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

I thought that you only go through depression once in your life. I didn’t realise you actually have to work on mental health.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

Reading Agassi’s biography OPEN, Greg Louganis’s biography BREAKING THE SURFACE and reading about Fergie’s struggles all helped mould what I did with the last five years of my life.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? Aren’t they obsolete?

There is something really satisfying about holding a book and turning the pages. But we’ve covered all our bases by releasing it in electronic format as well!

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

It’s the story of my life from birth to present, with absolutely no omissions whatsoever (after all, 24 is really young to write a book!) but it is a very warts-and-all biography, talking about everything from sports to depression, living like a caveman, coming to terms with sexuality, and all the (mis)adventures in between.

(BBGuru: here is the publisher’s blurb - People kept remarking on how they were surprised that a gold medal and fame hadn’t changed me. I always responded, ‘Why would I change? Being me is the easiest person to be.

I was lying. It wasn’t.

At the Beijing Olympic Games, he made history with an unforgettable dive, the first to ever score perfect tens from all four judges, and won gold for Australia.

Grinning with pride from front pages around the world, there was no hint of the personal demons that had led this supremely talented young dynamo to quit diving less than two years before.

Joyously out and proud, Matthew was a role model for his courage both in and out of the pool. Yet the crippling self-doubt and shadow of depression that had plagued him all his life forced him into premature retirement, at one point reduced to circus diving to earn money.

Even after Beijing and being ranked No 1 in the world, those closest to Matthew could not guess that beneath that cheeky, fun-loving exterior he was painfully aware of how easily it could unravel.

In the lead-up to the London Olympics, when injury threatened his hopes, he will have to find the strength again to balance his striving for perfectionism with the fear of his self-doubt taking hold again.

Told with the honesty and courage he is admired for, Twists and Turns is an inspiring story of a true champion, in and out of the pool. )

Click here to buy Twists and Turns from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

To de-stigmatise mental illness so that people feel more comfortable reaching out and seeking the help they need.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

Too. Many. People. I like to see the best in people and strive to emulate those qualities that I admire in others. But mostly Stephen Fry.

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

To be rich and famous by 30. Is that too much to ask?

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Let your personality translate through your writing. Write the book that you’d want to read.

Matthew, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy Twists and Turns from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

You could win one of two signed Michael Palin book packs! (They were worth over $200 each – now they are priceless!)

I met Michael Palin the other night at a function put on by his publisher, Hachette Australia.

Michael gave a short talk about his new TV show and accompanying book, Brazil and then he mingled.

I behaved very well. I’d left my Monty Python repertoire at home. And I restrained my inner teenage girl who wanted to scream and faint when he said hello. He is as he appears on the screen in his travel documentaries – good natured, intelligent, curious, warm and friendly.

But the best thing is, although nearly seventy, the naughty boy glint in his eye remains.

Order BRAZIL from Booktopia before 5th December 2012 to go into the draw to win one of two signed book packs worth over $200! (pictured below)

Packs include: all six of Michael Palin’s earlier travel books PLUS another copy of Brazil PLUS a copy of his new novel The Truth – all are signed by Michael Palin!

BRAZIL

Michael Palin, the No. 1 bestselling author, explores an exotic country now a global superpower.

Brazil is one of the four new global super powers with its vast natural resources and burgeoning industries. Half a continent in size and a potent mix of races, religions and cultures, of unexplored wildernesses and bustling modern cities, it is also one of the few countries Michael Palin has never fully travelled.

In a new series for BBC1 – his first for five years – he explores in his inimitable way this vast and disparate nation. From the Venezuelan border and the forests of the Lost World where he encounters the Yanomami and their ongoing territorial war with the gold miners, he follows Teddy Roosevelt’s disastrous expedition of 1914.

Journeys by river to the headwaters of the Xingu, by plane over huge tracts of forest, by steam train and by road along the Trans-Amazonica allow him to reach a kaleidoscopic mix of peoples: the indigenous hunter-gatherers of the interior, the descendents of African slaves with their vibrant culture of rituals and festivals and music, the large community of German descent who celebrate their patrimony at the biggest beer festival outside Munich, and the wealthy guachas of the Pantanal amongst them. His journey ends at the border with Uruguay and the spectacular Iguacu Falls.

Click here to buy Brazil from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Robert Drewe on drowning, sharks and other watery obsessions…. (In an Interview with Caroline Baum)

Montebello : A Memoir

by Robert Drewe

Listen to me,’ my mother says. ‘They’ve let off an atom bomb today. Right here in W.A. Atom bombs worry the blazes out of me, and I want you at home.’

In the sleepy and conservative 1950s the British began a series of nuclear tests in the Montebello archipelago off the west coast of Australia. Even today, few people know about the three huge atom bombs that were detonated there, but they lodged in the consciousness of the young Robert Drewe and would linger with him for years to come.

In this moving sequel to The Shark Net, and with his characteristic frankness, humour and cinematic imagery, Drewe travels to the Montebellos to visit the territory that has held his imagination since childhood. He soon finds himself overtaken by memories and reflections on his own ‘islomania’. In the aftermath of both man-made and natural events that have left a permanent mark on the Australian landscape and psyche – from nuclear tests and the mining boom to shark attacks along the coast – Drewe examines how comfortable and familiar terrain can quickly become a site of danger, and how regeneration and love can emerge from chaos and loss.

Click here to buy Montebello from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Extract:

1 The Fats Domino Voice

It was that fabled occasion, a dark and stormy night, the sea just a blacker inked line in the distance, and I was lying in bed in the deep gloom of three a.m., singing Blueberry Hill in my Fats Domino voice.

We were on the trailing edge of a cyclone and wind buffeted the timbers of my rented cottage on the cliff edge at Broken Head. The house’s rocking gave the sensation of being in a sailing ship. Palm fronds lashed and rasped against the window, more rain, endless rain, thundered on the tin roof, and I’d hardly have been surprised if the cottage, an architectural folly that resembled a nineteenth-century schooner almost as much as a house, sailed over the cliff onto the sodden sugarcane fields below.

If we’re speaking of the true life, of genuine self-awareness, it was a night of pivotal moments when things could go either way. I could either plummet to the depths or shape up, brush myself down, pick myself up, pull my finger out, turn a frown upside down. Basically, get a grip. The odds at that stage favoured plummeting.

Anna, my anxious seven-year-old daughter and my youngest child, was insisting I sing to her, and had chosen the song. As the rain crashed down, she complained, ‘You need to sing louder.’ If I sang any louder I’d lose the throaty timbre of Fats Domino. Anyway my breathing was still shallow and irregular because I’d just killed a brown snake by her bedroom. read more…

BIG NEWS: Olympian Matthew Mitcham is coming to Booktopia to sign copies of Twists and Turns!

Twists and Turns

People kept remarking on how they were surprised that a gold medal and fame hadn’t changed me. I always responded, ‘Why would I change? Being me is the easiest person to be.’

I was lying. It wasn’t.

At the Beijing Olympic Games, he made history with an unforgettable dive, the first to ever score perfect tens from all four judges, and won gold for Australia.

Grinning with pride from front pages around the world, there was no hint of the personal demons that had led this supremely talented young dynamo to quit diving less than two years before.

Joyously out and proud, Matthew was a role model for his courage both in and out of the pool. Yet the crippling self-doubt and shadow of depression that had plagued him all his life forced him into premature retirement, at one point reduced to circus diving to earn money.

Even after Beijing and being ranked No 1 in the world, those closest to Matthew could not guess that beneath that cheeky, fun-loving exterior he was painfully aware of how easily it could unravel.

In the lead-up to the London Olympics, when injury threatened his hopes, he will have to find the strength again to balance his striving for perfectionism with the fear of his self-doubt taking hold again.

Told with the honesty and courage he is admired for, Twists and Turns is an inspiring story of a true champion, in and out of the pool.

Click here reserve your signed copy by pre-ordering Twists and Turns

About the Author

At 11, champion trampoline gymnast Matthew Mitcham was discovered by the Australian Institute of Sport Diving Program. He became a national junior champion, represented Australia at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, achieving the highest single dive in Games history and becoming the first Australian male to win a gold medal in diving since 1924.

His many awards include the 2010 World Cup, 2010 and 2011 Canadian Cup competitions, along with four silver medals at the Commonwealth Games and he is ranked No.1 in the world in 10m platform. He is also one of Australia’s most prominent ‘out and proud’ athletes.

Click here reserve your signed copy by pre-ordering Twists and Turns

Lentil as Anything : Everybody Deserves a Place at the Table by Shanaka Fernando

“When money loses its value,
the goodwill and kindness we extend
to each other will emerge as the ultimate
and most sustainable currency of exchange.”

——–

Lentil as Anything : Everybody Deserves a Place at the Table

by Shanaka Fernando

Shanaka Fernando is often hailed as a modern-day revolutionary. As the founder of the Lentil As Anything community restaurants in Melbourne that feed thousands every week, he advocates a unique business and life perspective.

Entrancingly honest and refreshingly candid, Shanaka’s memoir hints at the roots of his early social awakening with tales of a 1970s childhood in Sri Lanka. From his upbringing within an eccentric extended family living in a residential compound populated with a throng of memorable characters, we accompany Shanaka on his travels from Australia to Asia to South America and back as he explores new ways of living his life.

Shanaka’s example of what can be achieved based on an inclusive ‘people-first’ philosophy will inspire, challenge and provoke insights and questions that are undeniably worthy of attention.

“Fernando is one of those rare pioneers who are prepared to live by their convictions, flaunt social convention and challenge the status quo. The story of his lifelong quest for meaning – and the ‘experiment in generosity’ that became Lentil as Anything – is inspiring and challenging in equal measure. Few autobiographies are likely to evoke the senses and soul quite as much as Fernando’s tale of global travel, self-exploration and cultural innovation”

- Dr Wayne Visser, Director of Kaleidoscope Futures and author of “The Quest for Sustainable Business” and “The Age of Responsibility”

About the Author

Shanaka Fernando is a revolutionary. For many years he has been well known in Melbourne, Australia, as the pioneer of the Lentil as Anything pay-as-you-feel vegetarian restaurants, and in recent times he is becoming influential as a public speaker and motivator.

He leads a simple, modest life as he continues to inspire and challenge perhaps millions as he advocates an inclusive, ethical approach to business and life, and a belief in the innate goodness and generosity of his fellow man.

The socially responsible Lentil as Anything restaurants feed thousands every week, and set an example for other restaurants and businesses to follow – an example which illustrates what an inclusive, ethical approach to business, and life, can achieve. In the Lentil as Anything restaurants it is people that qualify life, not property. ‘You get fed and treated with dignity even if you don’t have any money, and the colour of your skin and your education and your beliefs only put you on a par with everyone else.’

Shanaka is a modern day folk hero, offering an alternative, a new way of living that is not based on consumerism, profit or greed.

Peter FitzSimons, author of Eureka Stockade: The Unfinished Revolution, answers Six Sharp Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Peter FitzSimons

author of Eureka Stockade: The Unfinished Revolution, Mawson, Batavia, Kokoda and many more…

Six Sharp Questions

————————————–

1. Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?

Eureka Stockade: The Unfinished Revolution, details the birth of democracy in Australia. Our version of the Boston Tea Party, it was the moment when Australians insisted that they had rights, rights that they were prepared to fight for, the British bayonets notwithstanding.

2. Time passes. Things change. What are the best and worst moments that you have experienced in the past year or so?

The best moment was being at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in London. The worst moment? I dinkum can’t think of anything particularly bad this year – touch wood!

3. Do you have a favourite quote or passage you would be happy to share with us?

Yes, I love this part, where one of the diggers, is exhorting his brethren to take it further, and fight!

Typically, Thomas Kennedy goes further.

“The press,” he says, “has called us demagogues, who must be put down. But I for one will die a free man, though I drink the poison as Socrates of yore. We have come 15,000 miles, and left the enlightenment of the age and of the press, not to suffer insult, but to obtain greater liberty. We want men to rule over us, [not such as we have.] Most of all, we have to think of our children, who will grow up in this great colony, and all of us must never forget their own dearest interests.”

And yet, he asks, is this the way to proceed? Constantly signing petitions and passing resolutions, all for no result?

“Moral persuasion,” Thomas Kennedy says, with everyone leaning forward as before, to catch every word, “is all humbug. Nothing convinces like a lick in the lug!”

Love that “lick in the lug,” line! It wonderfully summed up the view of the vast body of diggers – we have had a gutful, and are now going to take arms against a sea of troubles.

 4. Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it?

I don’t really think I am – primarily because I love what I do. Though, I must say, when I am in full writing mode, I am doing one of two things: either writing my book, or resenting the fact that I am not writing my book. I am involved in many activities and travel a lot, but wherever I am, I always have my laptop close, and write my books in planes, trains, automobiles and hotel lobbies, as well as at home, lying supine on the coach. Overall, though, I have noticed that I am at my most productive when on long-haul flights, where there are no interruptions.

5. Some writers claim not to be influenced by the needs of the marketplace, while others seem obsessed by it. Would you please describe how the marketplace affects your writing (come on, tell the truth!).

Writing books is hard. Of course I want my books to sell. Thus, in the range of the many subjects I want to write about, I do choose the ones that will sell well in the marketplace.

6. Unlikely Scenario: You’ve been charged with civilising twenty ill-educated adolescents but you may take only three books with you. What do you take and why?

Charles DickensGreat Expectations: most impressive novel ever written, in my view.

Kahlil Gibran -  The Prophet – the values it evinces, without any religious gibberish, are wonderful.

Bob DylanThe Complete Lyrics of Bob Dylan. Even without him singing, and instrumentals, his lyrics are poetry for the soul:

Suddenly, I turned around, and she was standing there,

With silver bracelets on her wrist, and flowers in her hair,

She walked up to me so gracefully, and took my crown of thorns,

Come in, she said, I’ll give ya, shelter from the storm.”

Peter, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy Eureka: The Unfinished Revolution from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

Bryce Courtenay’s new – and final – novel, Jack of Diamonds

The new – and final – novel, Jack of Diamonds, by Australia’s favourite storyteller, Bryce Courtenay, is now available.

Celebrating the golden age of jazz, Jack of Diamonds is a true Bryce Courtenay classic spanning three continents and starring the irrepressible, quick-witted and big-hearted Jack Spayd.

Inspired by Bryce’s love of jazz and his own experiences working in the mines in Africa, Jack of Diamonds is a brilliantly entertaining story of chance, music, corruption and love.


Jack of Diamonds : Born into the slums of Toronto at the end of the roaring twenties, Jack Spayd grows up with a set of rules for home, school and the street where the strong rule the weak. But guided by a teacher who believes in him, a mother who protects him from his father’s drunken rages, and a friend, Mac, who introduces him to jazz, Jack discovers a life beyond Cabbagetown.

‘I’d discovered what was to become my first true obsession. I was completely obsessed, bowled over, struck by jazz lightning, whatever you want to name it.’

Turning his back on a promising classical career, Jack pursues his dream of becoming a professional jazz pianist, and rides the rails out West until he lands a job scuffing – playing everything from Rachmaninoff to ragtime. But in the dark gambling dens and honky-tonk bars of the devil’s playground that is Moose Jaw, Saskatchen, Jack receives more than a musical baptism of fire and makes a name for himself as a seriously smart poker player.

Soon the bright lights of Las Vegas beckon with the promise of legal gambling and a chance for Jack to see if he is good enough to make it as a jazz piano player in America. Caught up in the world of elite poker Jack falls under the spell of his boss, the enigmatic Bridgett Fuller, who has connections to the brutal Chicago Mob running Las Vegas. When someone gets badly hurt, Jack Spayd, also known as Jack McCrae, or Jack Reed, ex-piano player, now jazz harmonica player and sometime medic, is forced to flee for his life.

Leaving behind the one woman he adores, Jack sets sail for Africa where he begins work at the Luswishi River Copper Mine deep in the Belgian Congo. Soon his life-saving adventures lead to even more intrigue when he is given a rare African Grey parrot with a valuable secret, and before long Jack is drawn into a gambling ring run by ex-SS Germans. Read an Extract    BUY

‘It’s been a privilege to write for you and to have you accept me as a storyteller in your lives.

Now, as my story draws to an end, may I say only, ‘Thank you. You have been simply wonderful.’

With love and admiration,

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