Books, history, dress-ups: dare we say the Clunes ‘Back to Booktown’ fair has it all?

To quote our Weekly Book Newsletter (circa May 2009) at last year’s annual Clunes ‘Back to Booktown’ fair:

Rose Michael and her Arcade Publications colleague Dale Campisi (pictured) garnered local press attention by dressing up to promote the Arcade Publications title Madame Brussels: This Moral Pandemonium (L M Robinson).

‘From established antiquarian dealers like John Sainsbury to the woman in the bluestone church on the hill who didn’t even have a shop but was a passionate buyer and traipsed her collection to markets, the town was overrun with secondhand books,’ said Michael. ‘One bookseller [was] even selling by the pound!’

The annual Clunes fair is designed to attract visitors to the historic Victorian goldmining town and is celebrating its fourth year this weekend, 1 to 2 May. The 2010 event features writers Sonya Hartnett, Stefan Laszcsuk, Margaret Simons, Arnold Zable, Nigel Krauth, Malcolm Fraser, Toni Jordan and Commonwealth Prize Best First Book winner Glenda Guest.

Arcade Publishing’s Dale Campisi has promised Fancy Goods he will be donning a fake moustache when he attends again this year and encourages others to break out their most dashing gold rush attire and come along too. ‘Bustles, bonnets, crinolines, leg o’ mutton sleeves, top hats, tails, cross-bow ties, mutton chops, sovereign purses and penny farthings encouraged,’ he says.

You can find out more about the event here: http://www.booktown.clunes.org/.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Siddon Rock’ by Glenda Guest (Vintage)

Glenda Guest’s debut novel Siddon Rock (Vintage), which has just been announced as the winner of this year’s Commonwealth Writers Prize for best first book, received four stars from our reviewer Eliza Metcalfe way back in the November 2008 issue of Bookseller+Publisher magazine. Here’s what Eliza had to say:

With sprinklings of magic realism and a deft hand for compelling characters, Glenda Guest has created one of the loveliest debut novels I’ve read in a long while. Many of the residents of the small, isolated town of Siddon Rock have washed up there with complicated lives behind them—or are descended from those with complex stories. They are seeking refuge from the wider, wilder world and finding some sort of peace and/or shelter in the town’s isolation. Over the course of the book a return, an arrival, and a sudden departure mark the points on which the narrative hinges, drawing you into the ways in which each of the townsfolk deal with the rumples in their lives. If I have one critique, it is that the character development sometimes comes at the expense of the narrative. Everyone in the town—and there seem to be surprisingly many of them—is so completely drawn that each individual’s tangent is fascinating enough to form the basis of the book itself. But that is a minor point really, for readers of contemporary Australian fiction, this is a terrific addition to the list and should be widely read and enjoyed.

Eliza Metcalfe is a freelance writer and editor and former assistant editor of Bookseller+Publisher. This review first appeared in the November 2008 issue of Bookseller+Publisher magazine.