‘The September Issue’

Every time we say that we feel like Anna Wintour, and then we thank our lucky stars that instead of shoes, handbags and frocks, we are instead surrounded by manuscripts, advance reading copies and piles of beautiful books.

So, what’s in the September issue of Bookseller+Publisher we hear you ask? What will the trendsetters be reading in Spring/Summer 2010/11?

Well, Monica McInerney‘s new novel At Home With the Templetons (Michael Joseph, October) went down very well with Rachel Wilson, who is ‘very happy to report that the wait has been worth it’. ‘At Home with the Templetons continues to build on familiar McInerney themes and is delivered in her usual warm, humorous and moving style,’ she says. Also among the top picks this issue is Peter Yeldham‘s Glory Girl (Michael Joseph, October), according to our reviewer Kate Summers: ‘There was not a thing about Glory Girl that I did not enjoy.’

Comedian Anh Do has penned a memoir, The Happiest Refugee (A&U, September); it got a glowing review from B Owen Baxter, who said ‘when you think you’re about to die from laughing, Do wrenches your heartstrings so hard that within an instant you’re on the brink of crying’. Chris Harrington enjoyed Speaking Volumes: Conversations with Remarkable Writers (Ramona Koval, Scribe, September), saying that ‘Koval’s probing yet sympathetic questions elicit illuminating responses from her subjects’, while Sharon Athanasos enjoyed both Solo (Vicki McAuley, Macmillan, September)—’an inspiring read’—and the inaugural winner of the Finch Memoir Prize Marzipan and Magnolias (Elizabeth Lancaster, Finch Publishing, September): ‘a touching memoir of  Lancaster’s life, leading us across the seas as she connects with “all things Irish” to a battle with Multiple Sclerosis’.

The Philanthropist (John Tesarsch, Sleepers, November) got the thumbs up from Paul Landymore, Candice Cappe liked Outback Spirit (Sue Williams, Michael Joseph, September), Rebecca Butterworth enjoyed Dreaming of Chanel (Charlotte Smith, illus by Grant Cowan, HarperCollins, November) and A Food Lover’s Pilgrimage to Santiago De Compostela (Dee Nolan, Lantern, November) met with the approval of Annelise Balsamo.

We’ve got some reviews for poetry lovers too this issue, with Andrew Wilkins enjoying both Sand (Robert Drewe & John Kinsella, Fremantle Press, November) and Starlight: 150 Poems (John Tranter, UQP, September).

And then there are our Junior Bookseller+Publisher reviews…

Subscribers, we hope you are enjoying the issue. The rest of you can track down a copy at one of the wonderful bookshops listed on our subscriptions page here. Or for a heads up on future issues of the magazine, sign up for our free fortnightly newsletter.

BOOK REVIEW: Death Most Definite (Trent Jamieson, Orbit)

Working for ‘regional death’ isn’t exactly the best of jobs. Crossing spirits over to the underworld is painful and stopping the arisen dead needs at least a drop of your own blood. But being shot at was definitely not in the job description, nor was falling in love with a ghost. When your family and friends are being assassinated one by one you know that things have gone very wrong somewhere. When their corpses reanimate to finish the assassin’s job, you have to fight back. The first novel in Trent Jamieson’s ‘Death Works’ series is a brilliant opening to what promises to be an enthralling series. The narrative runs at a good pace, interspersed with the kind of humour that has made Jamieson’s award-winning short stories must-reads. It is also great to see Brisbane being used as a location in the novel. The city is both recognisable and altered by the dark fantasy of the story, and the familiarity of the setting adds to the atmosphere of the story—something that a lot of overseas dark fantasy lacks for Australian audiences. An enthralling read for those that have loved Neil Gaiman, Charles Stross and Charlaine Harris.

Chris McDonough is a bookseller at Coaldrakes in Brisbane. This review first appeared in the August issue of Bookseller+Publisher.

Bestsellers this week

In Don’t Blink (James Patterson & Howard Roughan, Century) an infamous mob lawyer is murdered at Lombardo’s Steak House in New York and the assassin slips through the police’s fingers. Seated nearby is reporter Nick Daniels, who accidentally captures a key piece of evidence during the hit, but is too shocked and shaken to realise. This new thriller is at the top of the Nielson BookScan highest new entries chart, followed by teen sailor Jessica Watson’s story in True Spirit (Hachette) at second place. Don’t Blink is in fifth place on the bestseller chart, followed by True Spirit, both trailing behind Stieg Larsson’s ‘Millennium Trilogy’ (Quercus) in first, second and fourth and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (Stephenie Meyer, Hachette) in third place. Nomad (Ayaan Hirsi Ali, HarperCollins) is at the top of the fastest movers chartWeekly Book Newsletter.

Most mentioned books this week

Jon Bauer’s debut novel Rocks in the Belly (Scribe), about an eight-year-old boy and the volatile man he becomes, gained a great deal of media coverage this week and is number one on our most mentioned chart (read our interview with Bauer here). Two weeks out from the election, Nicholas Stuart’s Rudd’s Way: Labor in Power 2007-2010 (Scribe) also gained a number of mentions, followed by Tilly Bagshawe’s Scandalous (HarperCollins), John Bradley’s Singing Saltwater Country (A&U) and Gregory Day’s The Grand Hotel (Vintage).

INTERVIEW: Jessica Rudd on ‘Campaign Ruby’ (Text)

Jessica Rudd tells regular Bookseller+Publisher reviewer Jo Case about her forthcoming novel Campaign Ruby, and how it felt to watch its political plot ‘become reality in such a gritty and personal way’.


Campaign Ruby seems to mint a new genre in Australian writing—campaign-trail chick-lit. It’s an unlikely but intriguing combination. How did you come up with the idea to marry politics with Bridget Jones style chick-lit?

As a West Wing tragic and Sex and the City junkie, political chick-lit seemed an obvious marriage to me. I love chick-lit—I feast on it. Marian Keyes and Sophie Kinsella make me laugh out loud. I identify with their characters.

When I was thinking about writing a novel an author friend of mine said, ‘it’s your first book—write what you know’. I know politics. I’ve grown up with it and have learned to love it. There is something exhilarating about campaigning, particularly when it’s for a greater purpose. With Campaign Ruby I wanted to share that buzz. The woman who puts Campaign Ruby in her handbag to read on the train should get bang for her buck. She deserves to laugh and cry with Ruby as she takes us on her maiden voyage in Australian politics.

You’ve worked as a PR consultant and on the federal election campaign trail. Your protagonist, Ruby Stanhope, is hired as a financial policy advisor but ends up mostly working in media management on the campaign trail. How has your experience fed into your writing?

When I worked on the Kevin07 campaign I noticed that regardless of a campaigner’s assigned role, sometimes there are things that just need doing which are a world away from your job description. It’s a bit miscellaneous. If you’re a speechwriter and your candidate needs a shirt ironed while they read their speech, you iron the shirt. If you’re a policy adviser briefing your candidate on economic policy and the phone rings, you answer it. In Ruby’s case, if you’re a financial policy adviser and a plane-load of journalists are hungry and cranky, you find a drive-through and feed them. Something else I really wanted to capture and share was the fun chaos of a major political campaign. I remember one particular occasion when we were campaigning in Mackay and Dad spontaneously jumped on board a massive sugar cane harvesting machine and went for a ride with its operator. Camera crew were chasing after this cane-munching contraption in a vast cane field—it was pretty dangerous. I was getting ready to call the paramedics. Dad’s press sec looked like she was going to have a coronary.

In your book, Australia gets its first female prime minister—and a snap election—following a coup by a senior colleague. Was it strange to see this situation mirrored in real life recently? What gave you the idea for this scenario when you were writing?

It was a bit spooky to watch parts of the utterly unimaginable scenario I had dreamed up become reality in such a gritty and personal way. There are a few major differences though. At the time I wrote Campaign Ruby, Labor was doing very well in the polls. The day my Dad stood down the government was on 52-48. It was—still is—a first-term government. In Campaign Ruby, the incumbent was in his thirteenth year in office. They were doing terribly in the polls when the treasurer seized the prime ministership and called an election to seek a mandate from the people.

The full interview and Jo Case’s review of Campaign Ruby appear in the September 2010 issue of Bookseller+Publisher magazine, with subscribers this week. For news of forthcoming Australian and New Zealand books, sign up for the free fortnightly Bookseller+Publisher Newsletter here.

BOOK REVIEW: The Well at the World’s End (A J MacKinnon, Black Inc.)

This is a wonderful book. A J MacKinnon or Sandy has a goal: to drink from the waters at the Well at the World’s End on the Isle of Iona, off the coast of Scotland. Then, as local legend has it, he will be granted eternal youth. According to the guidebook, he must do so over land and sea, which Sandy interprets as no flying. So without much of a plan, Sandy quits his teaching job in Australia and heads off on his adventure. He hitches rides in cars and yachts and travels by train and freighter, stumbling from one disaster or dead end to another, with an infectious humour. I particularly enjoyed his encounter with the secret Tourist Police in Laos. Mackinnon’s first book The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow was a real ‘word of mouth’ seller in the shop, and many people who read it bought it again as a gift for others. This book, I feel, will be the same, as it’s the sort of story you want to share. The writing is warm, humorous and entertaining. Sandy is an ideal travelling companion: a great storyteller, interesting and informative, without bombarding the reader with facts. The book is peppered with beautiful line drawings that add extra charm.

Ian Hallett has been a bookseller all of his working life; he currently works at Pages & Pages Booksellers in Mosman, NSW. This review first appeared in the July issue of Bookseller+Publisher.

Most mentioned books this week

The Man Booker Prize longlist was a hot topic in the media this week. Topping our most-mentioned chart was Peter Carey’s longlisted book Parrot and Olivier in America (Hamish Hamilton) and that other longlisted Australian title The Slap (Christos Tsiolkas, A&U) wasn’t far behind. Sizzling Sixteen (Janet Evanovich, Headline), The Pleasure Seekers (Tishani Doshi, Bloomsbury) and Nomad: A Personal Journey through the Clash of Civilisations (Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Fourth Estate) also gained media coverage and a spot on the most mentioned chart.