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Australian Biography

Paul Keating: The Big-Picture Leader

Paul Keating: The Big-Picture Leader

Troy Bramston

$39.99
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Drawing on around 15 hours of new interviews with Keating, coupled with access to his extensive personal files, this book tells the story of a political warrior's rise to power, from the outer suburbs of Sydney through Young Labor and into parliament at just 25 years of age, serving as a minister in the last days of the Whitlam government; his path-breaking term as treasurer in the 1980s; his four-year prime ministership from 1991 to 1996; and his passions and interests since.

Bramston has interviewed more than 100 people who know and worked with Keating, including his family, parliamentary colleagues, advisers, party officials, union leaders, public servants, and journalists. This includes interviews with Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, Doug Anthony, Bill Hayden, Andrew Peacock, Ian Sinclair, John Hewson, Alexander Downer, Peter Costello, Kim Beazley, Simon Crean, Cheryl Kernot, and Bob Carr.

Bramston has secured access to Labor archives, and he also documents key debates in once-secret cabinet papers, reveals caucus minutes for the first time, draws on the unpublished diaries of Neal Blewett and Bob Carr, discloses meeting records from the archives of US presidents George H W Bush and Bill Clinton, talks to former British prime minister Tony Blair, and shares his new discoveries from the personal files of Whitlam, Hayden, Hawke, and Howard.

Paul Keating saw political leadership as the combination of courage and imagination, a belief that powered his public career and helps explain his extraordinary triumphs and crushing lows. Keating blazed a trail of reform with a vision for Australia's future that still attracts ardent admirers and the staunchest critics.

This book chronicles, analyses, and interprets Keating's life, and draws lessons for a Labor Party and a country still reluctant to fully embrace his legacy.

Paul Keating: The Big-Picture Leader by Troy Bramston at 131 York Street Sydney
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Our Man Elsewhere: in Search of Alan Moorehead

Our Man Elsewhere: in Search of Alan Moorehead

Thornton McCamish

$27.99
A world-famous Australian writer, an inspiration to Robert Hughes and Clive James, a legendary war correspondent who also wrote bestselling histories of exploration and conservation ...and yet forgotten? In this dazzling book, Thornton McCamish delves into the past to reclaim a remarkable figure, Alan Moorehead. As a reporter, Moorehead witnessed many of the great historical events of the mid-20th century- the Spanish Civil War and both world wars, Cold War espionage, and decolonisation in Africa. He debated strategy with Churchill and Gandhi, fished with Hemingway, and drank with Graham Greene, Ava Gardner and Truman Capote. As well as being a regular contributor to the New Yorker, in 1956 Moorehead wrote the first significant book about the Gallipoli campaign. With its countless adventures, its touch of jet-set glamour and its tragic arc, Moorehead's story is a beguiling one. Thornton McCamish tells it as a quest - intimate, perceptive and superbly entertaining. His funny, ardent book reveals an extraordinary Australian and takes its place in a fresh tradition of contemporary biography.
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Understory

Understory

Inga Simpson

$32.99
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ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— Many people dream about making a tree change. When Simpson and her partner fell in love with ten steep acres of bush in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, they succumbed to its allure without quite knowing just what they were taking on. Within a short time they followed their hearts and purchased the adjoining block to set up their own writers’ retreat business, threw in their jobs and slaved – only for the GFC (and other factors) to drop them so deep into debt that their dream, and their lives, started to unravel.

This book interleaves natural science and personal story, description and reflection. Many chapters start with a particular tree found on the block - its growth and habit, the fauna it supports and its human usage - before flowing into Simpson’s life and labours. She learns to look, to see, and finally to recognise not only the trees on her property, but also her own possibilities and strengths. While each of her novels (Mr Wigg; Nest; Where the Trees Were) has shown a strong connection to land and nature, this book allows her to expand her concerns and observations, and to preserve and celebrate her trees in words - a fine addition to the genre of Australian nature writing. Lindy Jones

——

"The understorey is where I live, alongside these plants and creatures. I tend the forest, stand at the foot of trees and look up, gather what has fallen."

Each chapter of this absorbing memoir explores a particular species of tree, layering description, anecdote, and natural history to tell the story of a scrap of forest in the Sunshine Coast hinterland - how the author came to be there and the ways it has shaped her life.

In many ways, it's the story of a tree-change, of escaping suburban Brisbane for a cottage on ten acres in search of a quiet life. Of establishing a writers' retreat shortly before the Global Financial Crisis hit, and losing just about everything when it did.

It is also the story of what the author found there: the literature of nature and her own path as a writer. Understory is about connection to place as a white settler descendant, and the search for a language appropriate to describe that experience.
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Difficult Patient

Difficult Patient

Sue Curry

$29.99
Imagine having a life-threatening illness only for doctors to think you were faking it.

Sue Currie suffers from a strain of porphyria so rare that she was only the 18th known case in the world. In 1991, the medicine she needed had a guaranteed Fed Ex delivery date of four days from Europe. But hers took fifteen years, three months, and twenty-two days.

Sue was admitted to hospital, in agony, hundreds of times, but when her disease was assessed as not serious enough to be causing that level of pain, she was labelled as mentally ill and manipulative, a drug addict shopping for painkillers.

Though Sue, herself a nurse, knew her pain was real and how it could be treated, the ‘experts’ refused to believe her. She became a difficult patient, forced to stand alone against the entire state medical system. Eventually, after years of fighting and irreversible damage to her body and mind, she found the medical maverick who would save her life.

Difficult Patient is a powerful and timely account of falling through the cracks in the medical system, a compelling story of cover-ups, power plays and, ultimately, redemption.
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Adult Fantasy: My Search for True Maturity in an Age of Mortgages, Marriages, and Other Supposedly Adult Milestones

Adult Fantasy: My Search for True Maturity in an Age of Mortgages, Marriages, and Other Supposedly Adult Milestones

Briohny Doyle

$29.99
A wry and topical inquiry into how we respond when our cultural clock starts ticking.

‘For a long time I pretended turning thirty was no big deal but looking back, it’s clear I was bat-shit na-na for a good nine months either side of that birthday.’

The first of the millennials are now in their thirties. Dubbed ‘the Peter Pan generation’, they have been accused of delaying adult milestones. But do marriage, careers, mortgages, and babies mean the same thing today that they did 30 years ago?

Briohny Doyle turned 30 without a clear idea of what her adult life should look like. A greengrocer with a graduate degree, the world she lived in didn’t match the one her parents described. Her dad advised her to find a nice secure job; her best friend got married and moved to the suburbs. But she couldn’t help wondering if the so-called adult milestones distract us from other measures of maturity.

In a crackling mix of memoir and cultural critique, Doyle explores how societies cultivate ideas about education, work, relationships, and ageing. She interrogates the concept of adulthood through the neon buzz of pop culture and the lives of other young adults. In a rapidly-changing world, she asks: what is an adult, and how do you become one?
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The Many Ways of Seeing

The Many Ways of Seeing

Peter Bishop ,  Nick Gleeson

$29.99
In desperation, I look up into mum’s face. A small face – a loving face —

And the lights go out. Her face is the last image I will ever see in my lifetime.

Blind since the age of seven, Nick Gleeson has spent his life learning to ‘see’ without seeing.

Growing up in the working-class Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows, Nick’s young life was defined by touch and smell: learning the shape of each shoe so he knew left from right. Holding the huge, rough hand of his father. Smelling the well-worn vinyl in the family car. Gently feeling the smooth top and soft underbelly of a mushroom he has picked.

When Nick meets Peter Bishop, Creative Director of Varuna, the Writers’ House many years later, he has led an amazing life of physical adventuring. He’s scaled basecamp at Everest and the top of Kilimanjaro; he’s been a Paralympic athlete, a marathon runner, a skydiver. And, most recently, he’s been on an expedition to the Simpson Desert.

In a unique blend of memoir, conversation and insights into the writing process, together Peter and Nick have collaborated to share Nick’s compelling life journey with its many challenges, loves and losses.

The Many Ways of Seeing is an inspiring true story about determination in the face of hardship, the importance of trust and friendship and the wonderful relationship between a mentor and writer.
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The Never, Um, Ever Ending Story: Life, Countdown and Everything in Between

The Never, Um, Ever Ending Story: Life, Countdown and Everything in Between

Molly Meldrum

$19.99
More than thirty-five years in the making, this is the story of Ian 'Molly' Meldrum and the television show that stopped the nation. In 1974 Molly was working as a record producer and music journalist when he was offered the chance to be the talent co-ordinator of a new music show called Countdown. It would run for the next thirteen years and become one of the most-loved and most-watched programs on Australian television. It also turned Molly into a national institution (or 'mental institution' as one of his friends put it). During that period he not only became the most influential voice in Australian music, he endeared himself to millions of viewers with a uniquely unpolished interviewing style and a tangible on-screen passion. For better or for worse, whether interviewing Prince Charles or Sid Vicious, Molly was always Molly. Along the way he talked, partied, argued, exchanged blows and became firm friends with a roll-call of the world's greatest musical names. Sir Elton John famously described him as 'the best thing that ever happened to Australian music.' Filled with outrageous anecdotes and a kaleidoscopic cast of musos, colourful characters and international superstars, The Never, Um, Ever Ending Story is Molly's hilarious, vivid, warm and always compelling memoir of his chaotic, incredible life and the show that made him famous.
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'Gelignite' Jack Murray: An Aussie Larrikin Legend

'Gelignite' Jack Murray: An Aussie Larrikin Legend

Phil Murray

$29.99
At the mere mention of the name ‘Gelignite’ Jack Murray, any Australian from the Baby Boomer era or older can’t help but to crack a smile.

Murray was best known as the rally driver who in 1954 won the REDEX Round Australia Reliability Trial without the loss of a single point; but Jack’s sporting interests and achievements were eclectic and far-ranging. In his own words, at different times throughout his life he was ‘engaged in various sports with various successes’: cycling; VFL schoolboy football; stock car racing; hill climbing motor races; circuit car racing; car endurance events; Australian and NSW Grand Prix racing; international and Australian rally driving; wrestling; boxing; crocodile, kangaroo and buffalo hunting; ocean boat racing and waterskiing - to name most, but not all. Oh yes - Jack even raced a bathtub once, plug in.

Jack Murray died in 1983. Encounters with those who met him, knew him and loved him now grow fewer and fewer, as the years pass and the Reliability Trials of the 1950s drift into Australian history and folklore. Jack’s personal and nonpublic life, showing the man behind the derring-do, has never been fully explored or written about. Here for the first time is Murray’s full story as told by his son Phil Murray. Son of the legendary ‘Gelignite’ Jack Murray, Phil has inherited his father’s genes when it comes to adventure, seeking personal challenges and embracing all life has to offer.

Just as his father did, Phil believes life is best lived following some pretty simple instructions: ‘Don’t take yourself too seriously’. Thus Phil is the perfect person to display to the world a man whom many thought they knew, but who was much more complicated and talented than his racing exploits would lead us to believe.

Jack Murray died in 1983. Encounters with those who met him, knew him and loved him now grow fewer and fewer, as the years pass and the Reliability Trials of the 1950s drift into Australian history and folklore. Jack’s personal and nonpublic life, showing the man behind the derring-do, has never been fully explored or written about. Here for the first time is Murray’s full story as told by his son Phil Murray. Son of the legendary ‘Gelignite’ Jack Murray, Phil has inherited his father’s genes when it comes to adventure, seeking personal challenges and embracing all life has to offer.

Just as his father did, Phil believes life is best lived following some pretty simple instructions: ‘Don’t take yourself too seriously’. Thus Phil is the perfect person to display to the world a man whom many thought they knew, but who was much more complicated and talented than his racing exploits would lead us to believe.
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The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying

Nina Riggs

$29.99
In 2015 poet and writer Nina Riggs was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it metastasised later that year. She was thirty-eight years old, married to the love of her life and the mother of two small boys; her mother had died only a few months earlier from multiple myeloma.

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying is Nina’s intimate, unflinching account of ‘living with death in the room’. She tells her story in a series of absurd, poignant and often hilarious vignettes drawn from a life that has ‘no real future or arc left to it, yet still goes on as if it does’.

This unforgettable memoir leads the reader into the innermost chambers of the writer’s life: into the mind and heart, the work and home and family, of a young woman alternately seeking to make peace with and raging against the reality of her approaching death.
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Woman of Substances: A Journey into Addiction and Treatment

Woman of Substances: A Journey into Addiction and Treatment

Jenny Valentish

$32.99
Journalist Jenny Valentish investigates the female experience of drugs and alcohol, using her own story to light the way. Her travels around Australia take her to treatment facilities and AA groups. Mining the expertise of leading researchers, she explores the early predictors of addiction, such as childhood trauma and temperament, and teenage impulsivity. Drawing on neuroscience, she explains why other self-destructive behaviours - such as eating disorders, compulsive buying and high-risk sex - are interchangeable with problematic substance use. Valentish follows the pathways that women, in particular, take into addiction - and out again. Woman of Substances is an insightful, rigorous and brutally honest read.
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Land's Edge: A Coastal Memoir

Land's Edge: A Coastal Memoir

Tim Winton

$19.99
On childhood holidays to the beach, the sun and surf kept Tim Winton outside in the mornings, in the water; the wind would drive him indoors in the afternoons, to books and reading. This ebb and flow of the day became a way of life. In this beautifully delicate memoir, Winton writes about his obsession with what happens where the water meets the shore - about diving, dunes, beachcombing - and the sense of being on the precarious, wondrous edge of things that haunts his novels. 'In this record of a life-long love affair with the sea, Tim Winton's prose ripples, shimmers and surges with awe and respect for how the ocean has not only sustained him physically and emotionally but determined the very rhythms of his life.' Fiona Capp, The Age 'Winton's homage to the ocean and his childhood ...A book to return to again and again.' Matt Condon, Sun Herald 'A love letter to the beach, an enchanting celebration of life on the edge.' Sydney Morning Herald
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