Book Review: All Mine by Peter Edwards

Book Review: All Mine by Peter Edwards

Review by Renee Rollestone

All mine

The story opens in a rural New South Wales town in the mid-eighties. We are introduced to the Caruso Family who are a major organised crime family with ties to every government agency in the country.

We are then taken to present day where Carlo Caruso is in hiding in Canada, wanted for a grisly double murder of two undercover policeman. After seven years, it is decided that a risky transfer back home is necessary for Carlo as his mother is dying and wants to see her youngest son one last time.

What follows is an intricately written story with a formerly famous model, a widowed hermit architect and bikie gangs all coming together thanks to the actions of Carlo Caruso in his past and his present form. The Great Ocean Road and inner-city Melbourne are an evocative backdrop to this saga of obsession, crime and inner demons.

Edwards makes a strong point with his characters that it is the actions and choices that they make throughout their life which define their future happiness. Not opportunities, fame or money. Carlo’s inability to fully recognise his family’s efforts and risks in bringing him home are a common theme throughout the book. It is also a great observation on the consequences of obsession, the horrific impact on the object of it and how one person’s single-minded focus can shatter the lives of many, with lasting scars.

Edwards introduces the characters with care, taking the time for the reader to get to know the protagonists and their pasts. The tension picks up throughout the novel, leaving the reader desperate to get to the end and find out what will be the ending for our characters.

An enjoyable read, a bit slow to start but worth pushing through to the end.

4 out 5 stars.

 

 

There’s your quote, mate. An anthology of outrageous interviews from the mixed-up, muddled up music scene / Antonino Tati (New Holland, 2019)

There’s your quote, mate. An anthology of outrageous interviews from the mixed-up, muddled up music scene / Antonino Tati (New Holland, 2019)

A review by Steven Haby, Secretary Librarian

 

there's your quote mate

Cream magazine established in 1997 by the author of this book soon developed a reputation for scoring some pretty decent interviews from bands, songwriters, producers and others in the music scene. Many interviews were with Australian talent but also Antonino was able to sit down or call some of the more famous overseas people in the business as well.

This book is a collection, selected by the author, of some of the more memorable (or in some cases less so – ‘train wreck’ comes to mind) interviews. Many of the interviews include a postscript by the author which presents a reflective perspective on the session with the person in question.

Nick Cave is the first artist on the playlist so to speak and the interview was indeed a ‘train wreck’ of epic proportions. Nick was at his difficult best and the author comes across as completely flummoxed by the Prince of Darkness. To Nick’s credit he was very positive about Kylie Minogue!

Other artists who get a run include Meat Loaf, Simon Le Bon, Dave Grohl and Delta Goodrem. Kath and Kim and Dame Edna Everage are included and are at their acerbic and intellectual best.

The interviews are interspersed with chapters on various musical trivia relating to the Australian scene. An interesting and quick read which can be one of those books you can ‘dip into’ from time to time. A downside was the author’s cataloguing of their imbibing of various illicit drugs which perhaps helped (and hindered) their journalistic abilities which becomes rather tiresome after a while.

Book Review: The World is One Kilometre: Greville Street Prahran by Judith Buckrich

Book Review: The World is One Kilometre: Greville Street Prahran by Judith Buckrich

Review by Evangeline Young written for Lots Wife- reproduced with permission

The-World-is-One-Kilometre_FrontCover-WEB-e1563933194538

Sometimes it seems as if Melbourne and its inner suburbs simply materialised as a full blown metropolis, complete with city skyline, streets ordered in a perfect grid, concrete sidewalks interspersed with manicured gardens.  Perhaps it’s because Melbourne is a young city in comparison with London or Rome – its oldest buildings dating from the 1800s, its main attractions not castles or cathedrals but graffitied alleyways like Hosier Lane, hipster cafes on Degraves Street, vintage warehouses in Brunswick, diminutive bookshops in Fitzroy, and restaurants on almost every street and laneway boasting cuisine from all over the world.  It is difficult to imagine Melbourne with a history, in the same way that we think of the history of statuesque European cities. To us, Melbourne is a rebellious teenager: quintessential grunge meets functionality.

So it is a new and refreshing experience for me to read the history of one street in Melbourne, meticulously researched and written by historian Dr Judith Buckrich.  ‘The World is One Kilometre’ traces the narrative of Greville Street in Prahran, mapping the natural and geographic features of the landscape pre- and post-British invasion and colonisation, charting the course of two World Wars, the waves of migrants in the 60s, the ‘countercultural’ movements of the 70s, before landing in the 21st century.

In Judith’s richly descriptive prose, the world does become one kilometre of busy, complex, colourful existence.  The accompanying images – highlights are a painting dating from 1880, done by Yarra Yarra chief William Barak and depicting a dancing scene, a sketch of the avant-garde swimsuits of the 1930s,  and the vibrant multi-coloured windows of 1970s record shops – reflect the evolution of an iconic social, political and cultural hub.

Buckrich, who studied law at Monash in the late 60s, writes fondly of Monash University’s role in this change. The Monash Labour Club moved their city headquarters to 120 Greville Street in January 1969 and Jill Joliffe, Monash university student at the time and later known for her work as a journalist in East Timor, opened ‘Alice’s Restaurant Bookshop’ which sold radical leftist literature.  Down the street, at the Labor Club city headquarters, a large room behind ‘Dobie’s Bakery’ served as a meeting room for the Revolutionary Socialists.  Greville Street, described by local, Robert Greaves, as far from the ‘gentrified, active, clean street’ of today, was ‘run-down and much unloved’, but the ‘cheap rents, good public transport and community’ attracted ‘musicians, artists, students and hippies’.

‘The World is One Kilometre’, read as a journey through time, a way to understand and recognise the depth as well as the breadth of history, is entertaining, informative and deeply satisfying.  Buckrich weaves fascinating minutiae into the grander scheme of events, giving readers a sense of the changing social and economic landscape from the perspective of ordinary Melbournians.  She describes, for example, a single property, No. 43 Greville Street, and its evolution from a ‘brick and wood house of six rooms plus stables’ to a private music school and residence for music teachers in the 1900s, to a ‘magnificent solid brick Victorian’ in 1989, when it was sold for $350,000. It is interesting to note the one constant: its steadily rising value, peaking at $2,200,000 to $2,800,000 in 2018.

It is also interesting to observe the quiet nostalgia threaded through the book – Buckrich’s homage to a hub of ‘counterculture social revolution’, ‘the bohemian epicentre of Melbourne’.  Perhaps the pace of social and cultural change which made this strip of Melbourne so magnetic has slackened.  Perhaps we are more complacent now, coming off the hard-won victories of the 70s where ‘gender and class divisions’ were radically challenged and it seemed as if the world was riding an endless tide of possibility and progress.

But we still have causes to fight for.  Our generation faces the ‘the skyrocketing rents that drove independent stores out’ of Greville Street and stripped it of its character, the grim reality of rising house prices and threats to job security, the apocalyptic consequences of climate change.  While our epicentres of cultural and political discourse may have shifted, while the concerns that occupy the public consciousness may be different, we can still look back and pay tribute, as Buckrich does, to a street whose people were never frightened of change.

‘The World is One Kilometre’ is available for purchase from the PMI (10% off for members) and you can also borrow it. 

Book Review: The box: how the shipping container made the world smaller and the world economy bigger. By Marc Levinson

Book Review: The box: how the shipping container made the world smaller and the world economy bigger. By Marc Levinson

Review by Steven Haby: Secretary Librarian

the box

We see them everywhere… on goods trains, B-double trucks and of course ships. It is the humble shipping container. Containers are even being converted into low cost housing. It may seem a simple and utilitarian product but the story of how containerisation revolutionised national and international trade is indeed fascinating.

The author traces the story of the development of the container from early beginnings in the mid-1950s when a converted oil tanker carried ‘boxes’ from Newark to Houston. From these humble beginnings the benefits of adopting a standard box for carrying everything from cars to wine was soon realised.

The struggles of getting worldwide agreement from interests such as railway companies, shipping lines, warehouses and government is meticulously documented in this book. The author also outlines challenges with the trade union movements fearful about potential job losses and workplace change. The rise of international standardisation and the organisation ISO is also outlined.

The impact of the shipping container on Australia is covered in detail including the redevelopment of the Port of Melbourne which is now the largest port in Australia. Interestingly the little Tasmanian Government Railways were one of the early adopters of containerisation in the 1950s and designed and built specialist containers for apple transhipment.

Unfortunately the book is not illustrated and it would have benefited from some illustrations or drawings showing the development of the container across the world.

Nevertheless it is a very interesting read on an item we take for granted.

July 2019

Book Review: Paper emperors: the rise of the Australia’s newspaper empires by Sally Young

Book Review: Paper emperors: the rise of the Australia’s newspaper empires by Sally Young

Review by Steven Haby PMI Secretary Librarian

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Australia’s newspapers, like many across the world, have been at the crossroads for some years. Declining circulation and revenue, mass retrenchments of journalists and staff, closure of titles and changing owners have painted a generally bleak picture for the newspaper.

Before the digital age, a newspaper whether it was a capital city daily or rural weekly was the source of news and information. Melbourne had at one point had up to five daily papers including an afternoon edition. Who remembers the Saturday afternoon Herald with the VFL football scores in the days when nearly all football was played on a Saturday afternoon.

Paper emperors presents a fascinating history of the introduction of newspapers from around 1803 until 1941. The author, Sally Young, chronicles the rise and influence over government, the economy and indeed Australia’s social fabric by a handful of incredibly powerful owners. Despite the number of owners, the limits of communications technology and the dispersal of the population, a newspaper could bring down a government or destroy a reputable business or person of note. Furthermore who would have known that many newspapers were owned by disgraced land boomers, bankrupts, mining magnates and even criminal elements!

Sally has divided the book into three parts which enables the reader to get an excellent contextual understanding of the history of newspapers in light of Australia’s socioeconomic development. Part one covers the gradual rise of the newspaper across Australia and their influence. Some interesting points are included such as the campaigning of newspaper owners to obtain concessions from the postal service and railways to deliver their product across the continent. Some of these particularly around the postage of journals or ‘printed material’ are still in force today.

Part two is a biographical account of the newspaper owners including Hugh Denison and Keith Murdoch among others and how newspapers were used by them to support their business interests or political causes. For example the owners of Broken Hill Smelters used their newspapers to pressure unions and governments on various industrial matters which divided the city of Broken Hill for years.

The final part covers the legendary battles between the owners or barons and all aspects of Australian life. For example the owner’s of the Hobart Mercury ran a consistently anti-Labor campaign for decades in Tasmania with the exception of one election campaign. Indeed Sally delves into the downfall of Robert Menzies who blamed the press for his political demise.

Paper Emperors is an incredibly detailed account of newspaper publishing – and covers not only the influence the papers (and owners) wielded but also the technical aspects and challenges of newspaper production.

Sally is currently writing a follow up to this book covering 1941 onwards.

A highly entertaining and informative book.

It can be found in the library at https://library.pmi.net.au/fullRecord.jsp?recno=29498

 

Book Review: The Nameless Names

Book Review: The Nameless Names

Book review by Heather Redmond

nameless names

I had 3 great-uncles who died in the first World War but I came of age protesting the Vietnam war.  In recent years, I have followed with interest discussion around changing attitudes to the Anzac legend.   Now I am retired, my interest in family history extends to understanding the lives – and deaths of my ancestors.   Scott Bennett’s book made me consider also the impact of their deaths on the families and communities who loved and missed them.   If you are looking for a textbook description of the battles of the Great War, ‘The Nameless Names’ isn’t for you, but if your interest is in people then it will be on your list of best books ever.

Scott Bennett’s instinct for telling a story is excellent.  There is a clear sense of purpose to ‘The Nameless Names’.    This author understands how a story should unfold in coherent stages that balance the delivery of facts with building up a sense of the grief and horror of it all.  Don’t be tempted to skip over the introductory chapter as it lays out the motives and structure of the book in a most moving way.   It is a thoughtful device to focus on 3 families; that their lost sons were embedded in loving families and  tight-knit rural communities heightens the tragedy of their nameless state once they are bodies lost on a battlefield.

Bennett writes beautifully, for example, when describing Coolgardie on page 13, “The town’s fortunes surged and tumbled on flighty rumours of gold strikes”.   He uses the words of soldiers themselves to describe the impact of battles and bodies.  This strategy of integrating quotes from soldiers’ diaries and letters serves well and although the book focuses on a handful of particular men and their loved ones, Bennett casts a wide net for material and uses the words of many others, building up a sense of the universality of the devastation.    When he quotes the words grieving families used for ‘In Memoriam’ notices, we appreciate the genuine sentiments behind the conventional words because he has led us to a deeper understanding of the grief of those families.

The breadth of research provides fascinating journeys into the times.   There is a section on how families turned to spiritualism, and the lecture tours of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.    Another brief section on the gardeners at war cemeteries highlights a forgotten corner of commemorating the dead.

Bennett shows how courage takes many forms, and details the work of those, mostly women, who traced the last resting place of fallen men.   He describes Red Cross workers visiting comrades of the fallen, and talking to grieving families. He shows the suffering of German migrants – my great-grandfather was one such – who experienced harassment and internment, while sending strong young sons off to fight.  He describes the awful work in the early post-war years of digging up and re-burying bodies on the former battlefields.   He shows the peasant farmers of France and Belgium struggling to rebuild their farms, as well as Australian mothers and widows struggling to continue life after the war.

This is a book, not to spark joy, but to savour and treasure and share and reflect upon.   You won’t regret reading it, although you will often feel overwhelming sadness as you do.

Book Review: The Outer Circle: A history of the Oakleigh to Fairfield Railway

Book Review: The Outer Circle: A history of the Oakleigh to Fairfield Railway

the outer circle

 

The Outer Circle: a history of the Oakleigh to Fairfield Railway

by David Beardsell and Bruce H. Herbert

Review by Michael Canavan

In the day, the Dasher dashed, carriages had swing doors and trains travelled to Deepdene.

The Outer Circle Railway seemed like a good idea at the time. Conceived by Victorian Railways to bring the Gippsland Line into Melbourne by bypassing a pesky private line, the need was negated when the private line, realizing discretion was the better part of a financial bollocking, sold out to VR, thus providing the desired direct line from Oakleigh.

It should have ended the matter: but no, work proceeded. It was, after all, the Era of Marvelous Melbourne where money grew on trees, especially trees growing on vacant land. Land speculators speculated, Her Majesty’s Victorian Parliament housed an impressive array of colourful characters, the Rosstown Railway was built and the Octopus Act enfolded the Colony: too many railways weren’t enough. It was mere coincidence that the new railways passed through vacant land needing development.

The OCR was front and centre: a substantial portion of the proposed right of way passed through land held by Honourable Members. Fulham Grove estate, about half a mile from Fairfield Park, had its own station with two platforms and a passing loop-it was to be appreciated by APM. Willsmere had a similar arrangement under an impressive bridge. A fleet of locos and carriages was on-hand to carry the expected throngs.

The OCR proceeded on its circuitous route from Oakleigh to Fairfield Park [today’s Fairfield]. Passing through the sparsely settled then outskirts of Melbourne [photos of the day beg you to play “spot the dwelling”] there wasn’t much in the way of prospective revenue. No matter: it was built to the highest standards [one John Monash was engineer], in equal parts an attempt to make a statement and to encourage usage. Double platforms and passing loops were laid out, crossings safeguarded, cuttings cut, embankments banked. All for nought.

Opened, with no ceremony, around 1893, about half the line was “suspended” by 1895, the whole line closing soon after. Reprieved around 1897, the line staggered on, serviced until 1927 by the Dasher between Deepdene and Ashburton [cut back to Riversdale after electrification]. A goods service to East Kew lingered until 1943.

Despite the indifference, there were attempts to revive the Line until World War 2, mainly to woo prospective land buyers: a photo shows a train full of clients at Deepdene Station in the 1920s.

As well as assisting speculators, the railway developed suburban golf: 2 courses, at East Kew and near Riversdale, arose. Riversdale members were miffed at having to walk some distance from the nearest station; strings were pulled, and the adjacent Golf Links station [today’s Willison] provided.

This book is a valuable reference: it is the only readily available and comprehensive history of the Railway. It provides an overview of its operations plus the small details that make a satisfying railway history-it is a reminder that so much has disappeared yet remains discernible. It describes the sad fate of the Railway in affectionate detail and provides several interesting annexes– a photo of various tickets is quite nostalgic and a scathing account of a trip using the OCR a joy to read.

Apart from the impressive engineering, the other highlight was the array of locomotives that graced the line, mostly tanks and early railmotors. Naturally, the book provides excellent action shots as well as the staple “look at me” platform shots: the Dasher steaming uphill from Deepdene on a misty morning is a highlight.

The OCR never had a chance: it was a poorly managed embarrassment that Officialdom tried to ignore. It always operated in sections, never in its entirety, seemingly going out of its way to be as inconvenient for patrons as possible. Despite that, a walk along the Centenary Trail [Chandler Bridge to the Malvern Golf Course] and from East Malvern to Oakleigh leaves you asking “What if”, especially as plans are mooted for a new circular link line.

If the OCR had survived, the Packenham, Cranbourne and Gippsland lines would have connected at Oakleigh: the Junction Hotel’s name would make sense. Heading north, it would have crossed the Glen Waverley and Lilydale/Belgrave lines before joining the Hurstbridge line at Fairfield; as well, it would have connected with several tram lines [e.g. at East Kew and Riversdale]. In the 1930s it was proposed to extend the Kew line to Doncaster via a junction at East Kew.

What if?

The Outer Circle is available for viewing at the library but is not for loan.

https://library.pmi.net.au/fullRecord.jsp?recno=17568