Deb’s isolation blues recommendations
Deborah Crabtree is a bookseller at our Carlton shop, as well as the co-host of our crime books focussed podcast, Good Cop Bad Cop. Here, she shares what she’s reading during self-isolation.
As life in isolation is set to become the new normal for a while – I’ve been doing it for several weeks now - one thing it offers is a lot of down time, some writing and a whole lot of reading. As I can’t recommend books in person I thought I’d tell you about some books currently on my bedside table that I’ve either just read, am reading or have dipped into that I’m pretty excited by.
A book I’ve been revisiting
Everyone I work with knows I love Patti Smith and I was geared up for her event with Readings next month, which has sadly now been cancelled/postponed. I revisit Smith’s books regularly so would recommend any or all of them, actually, but the one I’ve revisited recently is Devotion. Filled with photos, poetry, short story and memoir, it’s a tiny thing so if you don’t feel you can concentrate on books for very long at the moment this is perfect. It offers such generous insight into Patti’s creative process that every time I finish it I feel compelled to write and create. If you haven’t read any of Smith’s books I’d recommend Just Kids as a starting point.
A book I’ve finally got around to reading
I think a lot of people have been struggling to settle into a book at the moment, I know I have been, but my way into it again has been to start small. I’ve just finished reading Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss, after having wanted to for ages. My two colleagues Marie and Ele have been singing this book’s praise on the shop floor forever and I now join them in a virtual Carlton chorus from my Inner West she-shed. While the volume may be slim, its themes are anything but. Literary with delicate touches of folk horror, the story takes place in Northumberland where teenage narrator Silvie is part of an experimental archaeology group attempting to live like Britons of the Iron Age. Ghost Wall is a stunning book.
A newly released book
With launches being cancelled everywhere but online, new books are finding it difficult to get the attention – not to mention the party – they deserve. I was looking forward to the launch of Kirsten Krauth’s Almost A Mirror, which was to be held at a St Kilda venue with bands and the whole shebang – a modern re-enactment, of sorts, of the Crystal Ballroom days around which the book is set. Expressionistic in style and old-school-Melbourne in spirit, Almost A Mirror will have you trawling through your own memories and mix-tapes as you read it.
A book to get excited about
Jumping way ahead here, I’ve just dipped into Ruth McIver’s I Shot the Devil. The premise: “Five people went into West Cyprus Woods the night Andre was murdered. Only three came out.” McIver won the 2018 Richell Prize with the manuscript for this crime tale and I feel like I’ve been waiting for its release forever! I’m only a few chapters in but the writing’s smart and I’m already gripped by it. Erin’s a journalist who’s been asked to write about a crime that happened 20 years ago in her hometown. She’s set to get closer to the truth, and plenty of danger. I Shot the Devil isn’t released until July but make a note of it, I think it’s going to be a cracker.