Bookseller+Publisher magazine publisher Tim Coronel has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Australian book industry, a 1969 Daimler and a thing for watches (no, really). He also has a lot of books. He kindly agreed to tell us about some of them:
What are you reading right now?
I always read multiple books at once: the challenge is finishing them! Right now, depending on the time and place, you might find me dipping into Reality Hunger by David Shields, The Radzestky March by Joseph Roth, Cooper Cars by Doug Nye, The Ask by Sam Lipsyte …
What book do you always recommend?
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. If you haven’t read it, you should. I’m not going to say anything more than that.
What book are you most looking forward to?
I haven’t yet had a chance to read the new David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns Of Jacob De Zoet; and I might have to read Justin Cronin’s The Passage to see if it lives up to all the hype.
What book made you wonder what all the fuss was about?
I’m not going the revisit the one a few years back that I gave a really scathing two-star review to and it went on to win the Miles Franklin … I admit I never got very far with Life of Pi; and I seem to be the only person in the world who really (really!) disliked The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
What’s the best book you’ve read that no-one’s ever heard of?
Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century by Greil Marcus. After finding it literally by accident (I plucked it out of the returns pile at the suburban Canberra bookshop I was working at in 1989), it was truly mind-expanding and life-changing for me. It’s a book that’s ostensibly about music, and particularly about how punk draws on a number of earlier avant-garde movements, but it’s also the book that introduced me to Guy Debord and the Situationists, and which really shaped the way I think about culture, politics, art, music and all that stuff.
Obligatory desert island question—which book would you want with you?
If it was the only book available, maybe I’d finally get around to finishing all the snippets of Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project. For some strange reason, my ‘comfort book’ has been The Andy Warhol Diaries, I couldn’t count how many times I’ve pulled it off the shelf and re-read parts of it over the past 20 years.
Is there a book you’ve bought for the cover?
Loads! Most recently, Wristwatches: History Of A Century’s Development by Helmut Kahlert et al (Schiffer). I saw an old copy in the window of a second-hand bookshop and almost bought it for an extortionate price, but then found out a revised and updated edition was still in print and bought that (for a slightly less extortionate price).
Hardback, paperback or digital?
e) all of the above. It’s the words that are important, not the container they’re in. Although having said that, I’m finding I’m reading quite a lot on my iPhone.
If I were a literary character I’d be…
Hmmm, that’s a tough one, can I be an amalgam of many characters? A bit Charles Ryder (from Brideshead Revisited), a bit Bernardo Soares (from Pessoa’s Book of Disquiet), a bit Troppmann (from Bataille’s Blue of Noon), a bit Tom Ripley (from Patricia Highsmith’s novels), a bit Bernie Gunther (from Philip Kerr’s Berlin novels), with some Sal Paradise (Kerouac’s alter-ego in On the Road) and James Bond fantasies thrown in for good measure …
The best thing about books is…
They help you avoid eye-contact with strangers on public transport.