Newsletter Winter 2021
A call from the producer of Chanel 9’s Postcards came out of the blue. Someone had recommended visiting the bookshops of Woodend, so in late May a small production crew, lighting, sound, director and Shane Crawford, visited Woodend Bookshop for around an hour. The episode was broadcast in late June. A further benefit was that The Midlands Express picked up the story and interviewed both Woodend Bookshop proprietor Ed and Woody from New Leaves across the road.
Rare and collectible books
Please go to shop’s webpage www.woodendbookshop.com.au to see our holdings in this area. Recently more books have been added. Shop policy is to check rare books, describe them accurately and sell our items at 20-40% less than listed market price.
Goodstart Early Learning Centre asked Ed to make a community visit to talk to the older children. This quickly evolved into a regular fortnightly reading session, much to everyone’s delight. As father to two grown boys, Ed says it is a joy to read expressively again and stimulate an interest in books. This fulfils a deep interest Woodend Bookshop has in developing literacy.
Mary Shelley’s enduring reputation has spanned two centuries based upon just one book, Frankenstein; or The modern Prometheus. This book about the excess of scientific experiment and the limits of humanity was influenced by several streams of thought: her mother philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, father political philosopher William Godwin, and husband poet Percy Busshe Shelley – plus acquaintance with many intellectuals of the time. Her mother died after Mary’s birth, leaving her upbringing to an unconventional anarchist father. An affair, with secret meetings at her mother’s grave, with the married Shelley produced a child. Following the suicide of his first wife, they married.
Frankenstein was conceived during a wild summer stay with Lord Byron in Italy. Mary and Percy had a highly creative life together, living in poverty in Italy. After Percy’s death by drowning, when Mary was 25, she dedicated her life to their single surviving child (of four), promoting Percy’s work, and writing herself.
She was a free thinker and politically radical. A theme in her work is that the cooperation and sympathy of women is a way to reform society.
Shelf life by Fhiebs
New books begin their lives shiny and bright and some find permanent homes on the bookshelves of their owners. But the booksellers who operate second-hand bookshops are in fact curators of the literature that circulates through communities keeping alive the stories from great writers and sometimes passing on messages in the dedications in the books.
Sometimes second-hand books contain bus tickets and one finds that the previous or perhaps previous once removed reader read the book on a London Bus in 1963 and that book has found its way back to Australia.
In The Economist May 15th-21st 2021 there is an Obituary for T.S. Shanbhag, “The bookseller of Bangalore”. It is a tender acknowledgement of the late owner of the Premier bookshop. He was a much-loved vendor in the town. The obituary notes that his mission was to enable people to read, to find treasures and, if they did not have enough money, to borrow his books. And this is the charm of the second-hand bookshop. It is a world inside a town. It is the place where grandparents can go and find the books they read as children to read again to their grandchildren. It is where one can wander through time, place and mood.
The obituary was brought into the Woodend bookshop by a customer. It delighted Ed who shares with the bookseller of Bangalore not only a love of literature but also the love of sharing it with others. It is the essence of a second-hand bookshop, that its contents include treasures people have been looking for or, the potential of a “new” discovery.
Ten minutes and thirty-eight seconds in this strange world by Elif Shafik
The device for this book is a scientific notion that the brain remains active for up to ten minutes after the body’s other functions have ceased at death. Shafik situates the narrative inside the dying brain of a Turkish prostitute, Leila, who reflects on her life and friendships. The final part of the novel is about her group of friends finding her an appropriate burial.
There is nothing significant about this device: it could be any internal monologue. In fact, it is awkwardly disrupted by insertions of background biographies of the friends.
The strength of this work is the expression of humanity in a cruel world that rejects anything not of the hard patriarchal norm. Liela’s friends are disabled, gay, fringe-dwellers, and prostitutes, but all are sucked into her sphere of acceptance and kind support, becoming a formidable, self-sustaining cohort.
This work reminded me of several Indian novels (viz Desai’s Inheritance of loss or Roy’s The god of small things) where the dynamics of family and society create the energy.
Best of the best… books for teenage boys