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Giramondo has now published seven titles in Giramondo Shorts, a new series of short form, short print run books, designed to take account of the new technologies of digital printing, and to appeal to a community of literary readers. The series carries a quote from Les Murray’s poem ‘The Dream of Wearing Shorts Forever’: ‘it is time perhaps to cherish the culture of shorts.’
Vanessa Berry – Ninety 9
In the last decade of the twentieth century, when music was recorded on cassettes and movies on VHS, Vanessa Berry was responding to the loneliness of life in the suburbs of Sydney by constructing imaginary worlds and identities from late-night music video programs, band T-shirts, mix-tapes and and the ‘dark energy’ of goth. Written and illustrated by one of Australia’s foremost zine-makers, Ninety 9 is a memoir about adolescence, its cherished objects, its magical places and, above all, its friendships –a personal guide to the end of the millennium for those who were too young to be there, and an intimate history, full of moments of recognition, for those who were.
Brian Castro – Street to Street
Street to Street is one of Brian Castro’s best books yet, a comic-tragic enactment of the anxieties of the writing life, in which the early twentieth-century Sydney poet Christopher Brennan plays a major role. A legendary figure, with a commanding knowledge of classical and European poetry, Brennan wrote some of the most powerful poems in Australian literature. He died an impoverished alcoholic at the age of sixty-one. Castro’s double portrait of the poet and his biographer, the writer-academic Brendan Costa, plays on the disappointment, the guilt, the lack of recognition, which troubles those who live by their imaginations. The novella is the perfect form for Castro’s purpose, its compression heightening the wit and energy of his prose, and his remarkable feel for the embarrassments of character.
Cesar Aira – Varamo
Translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews
One day in 1923, a middle-aged public servant is paid his salary in counterfeit notes; by the next morning, after a series of impossible complications which lead to a triumphant resolution, he has written a great poem.Consumed with anxiety about how to dispose of the fake money, he ricochets from one encounter to another, with a chauffeur suspected of leading an uprising and a madman demanding payment of an imaginary debt, a comatose cabinet minister whose car has been overturned, his paranoid mother, two genteel golf-club-smuggling sisters, an obliging maid called ‘the last woman’ and three pirate publishers who finally push him to write ‘that celebrated masterpiece of modern Central American poetry, The Song of the Virgin Child.’
Evelyn Juers – The Recluse
Eliza Emily Donnithorne lived most of her life in isolation in a large house in the Sydney suburb of Newtown.She is thought to have been the model for the character of Miss Havisham in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, who was jilted at the altar, and became a recluse, wearing her wedding dress, and keeping her wedding banquet set, until the day she died. But did it really happen like this?
The Recluse is the story of Juers’ quest to find the elusive Eliza Donnithorne, who was born in South Africa, and lived in India, England and Australia. It is a lace-work rich in connections and associations, at the heart of which her subject remains, irretrievable and dignified, an assertion of the value of the solitary life.
Eliot Weinberger – Wildlife
Eliot Weinberger’s essays are like encyclopaedias in miniature, crammed with curious details that make you wonder at the strangeness of creation, and the ability of humans to make it even stranger. Wildlife is a collection which celebrates birds and fish, dogs and flies, ticks and mole-rats, and those two legendary creatures the tiger and the rhinoceros – both highly prized, both now almost hunted to extinction. No field of human knowledge is too remote, no fact too fanciful for his purpose, which is to lay before you the world of these animals and minds of the humans who imagine them. Weinberger’s previous collectionAn Elemental Thing was named by Village Voiceone of the ‘20 Best Books of the Year’ and his book What I Heard About Iraq is regarded as an antiwar classic.
Chi Vu – Anguli Ma: A Gothic Tale
Anguli Ma is the central figure in a traditional Buddist folktale, a deranged killer who wears his victims’ fingers in a garland around his neck. In this novella, Chi Vu takes the character, and turns him into an menacing abbatoir worker who carries bloody chunks of meat home to his lodgings in plastic bags, in a suburban Gothic tale set in 1980s Melbourne, when the flight of Vietnamese refugees to Australia was at its height. The novella gives a compelling insight into the relations formed between refugees who have been displaced from their families or their communities, and lead isolated lives haunted by suspicion and fear. At the same time its macabre humour and surreal effects point to redemptive possibilities, in demonstrating how these old fears are played out and resolved in their new settings.
Michael Wilding – Wild & Woolley
‘In 1973, Michael Wilding, writer, lecturer, West Midlander and originator of many a literary wheeze and scheme, met Pat Woolley, Californian dynamo and publishing neophyte, at a party. Before many a glass of wine had passed, they set up a small firm to produce and import new-style fiction and poetry. How could they not have called it Wild & Woolley? They brought in state of the art books from California, making available Charles Bukowski and other City Lights stars and a good range of wide-eyed Australian writers: poets like Bob Adamson, fictioneers like Vicki Viidikas, Kris Hemensley and Wilding himself in the ground-breaking Short Story Embassy. High-impact material was thrust on a dozing literary public by this striking and influential venture.’ – Stephen Knight, The Selling of the Australian Mind