Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Black Inc.’s Gift Guide

Give the gift of great reading this year. We’ve got something for everyone.

The Best Australian Stories 
Edited by Cate Kennedy
RRP $29.95

The Best Australian Essays 2010
Edited by Robert Drewe
RRP $29.95

The Best Australian Poems 2010
Edited by Robert Adamson
RRP $27.95

The Best Australian Stories, Essays and Poems bring together the best Australian writing of 2010. On their own or as a set, they make a gorgeous gift.

Reading Madame Bovary
Amanda Lohrey
RRP $32.95

A brilliant collection of short stories from one of Australia’s most celebrated writers. A book sure to please any literary lover.

“Full of riches.” – The Age.

Australian Encounters
Written by Shane Maloney, Illustrated by Chris Grosz
RRP $24.95

Written by Shane Maloney and illustrated by Chris Grosz, Australian Encounters tells of 50 true encounters - public or private, ill-fated or fortuitous - between a renowned Australian and an international mover and shaker. Beautifully presented and highly entertaining, this is a perfect gift for the hard-to-buy-for friend, family or colleague.

The Family Law
Benjamin Law
RRP $27.95

A hilarious and moving collection of essays on life, love, family and growing up by one of Australia’s brightest new talents. If you know someone who likes David Sedaris, they’ll love Benjamin Law. 

“A writer of great wit and warmth.” – The Sydney Morning Herald 

The Sound of Pictures
Listening to the Movies, from Hitchcock to High Fidelity
Andrew Ford
RRP $32.95

An illuminating journey through the soundtracks of more than 400 films, including A Clockwork Orange, The Godfather, Cinema Paradiso, High Noon and many more. Perfect for music lovers and film buffs alike.

“A hugely enjoyable and revelatory read." —Margaret Pomeranz

The Indian Ocean and the Battle for Supremacy in the 21st Century
Robert D. Kaplan
RRP $34.95

In Monsoon Robert Kaplan shows how the rise of China, India, Pakistan and Indonesia represents a crucial shift in the global balance of power. A great gift for that friend or family member who is looking for thought provoking reading this summer.

How to Grow Your Own, Buy Local, Waste Nothing & Eat Well
Arabella Forge
RRP $29.95

An invaluable guide to eating and living well. This is a book destined to become a dog-eared kitchen staple, with fantastic recipes, tips and information on food that proves useful year-round.

Frugavore is that welcome rarity – a food book designed to be used.” – The Big Issue

Into the Woods
The Battle for Tasmania’s Forests
Anna Krien
RRP $29.95

Smart, powerful reporting on Tasmania’s forest wars from a brilliant debut writer. Into the Woods will capture you from the first sentence and sweep you along for the ride. For lovers of insightful non-fiction. 

“Anna Krien's intimate, urgent book pulsates with life and truth.” — Chloe Hooper

Love Poems
Dorothy Porter

Love Poems collects Dorothy Porter’s most powerful love poetry: portraits of longing and infatuation, of bliss, passion, uncertainty and devotion. A must for poetry lovers and anyone looking for that special gift for a loved one.

Quarterly Essay 40
Trivial Pursuit: Leadership and the End of the Reform Era
George Megalogenis

In the aftermath of the 2010 election and an era of power without purpose, George Megalogenis considers what has happened to politics in Australia. This smart and engaging essay is the perfect gift for any political junkie.

The Well at the World's End
AJ Mackinnon 

The Well at the World’s End is an astonishing true story of a remarkable voyage, an old-fashioned quest by a modern-day adventurer. This is a great gift for an armchair traveler or anyone with a taste for adventure and whimsy.

 “One of the most enjoyable books I have ever read...a marvellous read by a travel writer with a unique style.” – The Canberra Times

For more great Black Inc. books, please visit our website.

Andrew Ford's Top 5 Sound or Music Moments in Film

Andrew Ford is the author of The Sound of Pictures: Listening to the Movies, from Hitchcock to High Fidelity. We asked him to share five of his favourite uses of sound or music in film.

1. The Big Country (William Wyler, 1958) has one of those instantly recognisable cowboy themes by Jerome Moross, a popular hit in its day. It speaks to us of wide open prairies, mountains, canyons, tumbleweed – clichés, in other words, and fifty years on we might think of the music as clichéd too. But Wyler's most impressive use of the landscape has no music, indeed no sound. The dawn fist-fight between Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston is shown from a great height and a great distance, physically and theatrically. We see little and hear nothing. Wyler refuses to allow us to get involved in this futile punch-up. A Cold War parable? You bet!

2.  There are dozens of examples from Hitchcock in the book, but here's one I didn't include. If the music Bernard Herrmann wrote (against Hitchcock's wishes) for the shower scene in Psycho (1960) is too well known to require comment, what happens next is very interesting indeed. As Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) lies on the bathroom floor, we hear the distant voice of Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) – 'Oh God, mother! Blood!' – and then, for the next ten minutes, there is only music as we watch Norman mop up the bathroom, tidy the bedroom, wrap the body in the shower curtain, drag it out of the motel room, put it in the boot of the car, drive it to the swamp, push it in and watch it sink. During those ten minutes, something very interesting occurs. We change our allegiance. Having been hoping that Marion would get away with her theft, and been horrified at her murder, it takes only ten minutes for us to hope Norman will succeed in disposing of her body and to share his feelings of panic when the car roof pokes out of the swamp.

3.  The Fall of the Roman Empire (Anthony Mann, 1964) has a strikingly bizarre score by Dimitri Tiomkin, but the sound that never fails to raise what remains of the hair on my head, is the voices of the Roman legions standing in a snow storm, moaning in chorus. They are bewailing the death of Marcus Aurelius, their mouths hidden behind their long shields. It is a chilling noise.

4.  The Blair Witch Project (Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez, 1999) is based on the simple conceit that we are watching documentary footage shot on two cameras by three film students. They have disappeared, their cameras have been found, the film and video have been edited and this is the result. As they meet their sticky ends in the final minutes of the picture, we are shown images from one camera but hear sound from the other. The images are shot by Heather running downstairs into the cellar where Mike has been killed or at least knocked out. From the audio on his camera we hear Heather's screams coming closer.

5.  There are dozens of sonic masterstrokes in Samson and Delilah (Warwick Thornton, 2009), some of them musical, some not. Beneath the freeway where Samson and Delilah camp out with Gonzo, the distant thumps of car tires hitting a join in the road form a continuous counterpoint to their fragmented conversations. My favourite moment, though, is when the film's sound design takes us inside Samson's head. As Samson (Rowan McNamara) lies on his mat, he has country music playing on the radio next to his left ear. Outside on the deck, his brother's band is going over and over its reggae riffs, an accompaniment in search of a tune. Samson covers his ears and the sounds become very distant. He uncovers first one ear, then the other, and we hear – in extreme stereo – the band, then the radio.

The Sound of Pictures is available now in all good bookstores.

A sneak peek at Australian Encounters

Here is a sample encounter from the new release Australian Encounters written by Shane Maloney and illustrated by Chris Grosz. Australian Encounters tells of 50 true encounters - public or private, ill-fated or fortuitous - between a renowned Australian and an international mover and shaker. 

Bob Hawke & Frank Sinatra

“A funny thing happened in Australia,” Frank Sinatra told a New York audience. “I made a mistake and got off the plane.” The plane in question – the private jet of one of Sinatra’s Las Vegas casino connections – landed in
Melbourne on 9 July 1974. Fresh out of self-imposed retirement, the 58-year-old Sinatra was visiting Australia for the first time in 15 years. His career was back on the upswing after a decade of poor record sales and crappy movies; his five shows, billed as the ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back’ tour, were eagerly awaited.
Trouble began the moment he set foot on the ground. Nobody was waiting to pick him up. As he headed to his rehearsal in a borrowed car, he was pursued by a journalist disguised as his then wife, the former Mrs Zeppo Marx. Sprinting through the rain to the venue with a media posse at his heels, he found himself locked out. Photos splashed across the afternoon papers showed a very cranky Frankie pounding on the stage door “like a demented fan”.
That night on stage, the Chairman of the Board let fly. In a prickly monologue, he described journalists as bums and “the broads who work for the press” as hookers worth “a buck and a half”. The crooner had bitten off more than he could chew.
When the journalists’ union demand for an apology was brushed aside, the ACTU slapped a ban on the tour. Its president, Bob Hawke, took personal charge of the campaign. The Silver Bodgie was then 45, a champion pisspot, notorious womaniser and the artful manager of Labor’s industrial wing. He declared that unless Sinatra could walk on water, he would be stuck in Australia until he said sorry.
With transport workers refusing to refuel his jet, Sinatra was forced to sneak onto a commercial flight to Sydney. Holed up in the Boulevard Hotel, he considered calling on the US Navy to rescue him. Eventually, he agreed to negotiate.
On 11 July, the two men met in Sinatra’s suite. Over four hours, an agreement was hammered out. In return for a statement that Sinatra “did not intend any general reflection upon the moral character of working members of the Australian media”, Hawke was prepared to green-light his remaining concerts.
Back in the US, it was joked that Sinatra was only allowed out of Australia because the union boss woke one morning with a kangaroo’s head on his pillow. Hawkie, meanwhile, did it his way. Eschewing the booze and broads, he became Labor’s longest-serving prime minister, until upstaged by Placido Domingo.

Australian Encounters is available now in all good bookstores. (RRP $24.95)

The perfect gift for Christmas!