Monday, March 31, 2014

Robyn Annear's 5 Favourite Places in Melbourne

This month, we are delighted to be re-releasing Robyn Annear's much loved histories of Melbourne, Bearbrass: Imagining Early Melbourne and A City Lost and Found: Whelan the Wrecker's Melbourne. We gave Robyn the difficult task of choosing her five favourite places in Melbourne:

Monument to indignation
A pillar of Stawell sandstone stands in the lee of the Exhibition Building, placed there c. 1880 at the insistence of John Woods, MP, “to express his indignation at the choice of New South Wales stone for Parliament House & to show the enduring qualities of the local stone”.

Photo from The Tumbrel Diaries
Behind the Windsor Hotel
Laneway behind the Hotel Windsor where you can see in the hotel’s rear wall (at the Bourke Street end), bricks from the demolished Eastern Market used in constructing the hotel extension in 1960. (But be quick – this wall too is soon due for demolition.)

Parliament House
Climbing the steps feels grand; inside, the parliamentary chambers are surprisingly bijou.

Parliament House

Ghost Ship of Wills Street
Mid-to late morning, depending on the season, plant yourself in La Trobe Street downhill from William and cast your gaze up and northwards. You just might see a ghost ship high on a west-facing wall in Wills Street, its uncanny square-rigged sails formed by reflected sunlight from windows in the building opposite. (Flagstaff Hill, adjacent, was in former times the city’s vantage point for shipping. Nowadays, for a comparable nautical thrill, you have to turn your back on the Bay.)

Slice of the city
Little William Street runs between Bourke and Little Bourke, the dome of the Supreme Court library floating above one end. Lanes like this one convey a sense of the topography that underlies the city. The narrower the aperture, the better for reading the tilt of the land.

Bearbrass and A City Lost and Found are now available in print and electronic editions.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Asian Mother’s Ten Commandments, which thou dare not forget.

1.    Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2.    Thou shalt not talk back.
3.    Thou shalt take off thou shoes to keep thine floors clean.
4.    Honour thy father and mother – mainly mother.
5.    Thou shalt not kill (me).
6.    Thou shalt not sleepover.
7.    Thou shalt marry nice Asian partner and bear sons.
8.    Thou shalt have bob haircuts.
9.    Thou shalt not badmouth others … to their face.
10.    Thou shalt not covet, except maybe your cousin’s career; he is doing very well for himself; you could be more like him.

Find this, voicemail bingo, fashion and beauty tips, maternal Asian wisdom and much more in Sh*t Asian Mothers Say by Benjamin Law and Michelle Law, with illustrations by Oslo Davis. Out now in print and ebook.

Friday, March 7, 2014

International Women's Day

International Women's Day is an annual event celebrating the achievements of women past and present. We like to think that includes all women, even fictional women. So, in honour of International Women's Day, Nero and Black Inc. writers pick their favourite fictional female characters!

Phillip Taylor

"You never forget your first love and the first female character I fell for was Pippi Longstocking. I loved her free-spiritedness and her irresistible reasoning that she wanted to go to school just so she could have school holidays. And, as an ineffectual man, I’ve also long admired Lady Macbeth. Sure, it didn’t end well for her, but she knew how to get something done."

Phillip Taylor's first book High on Hawthorn: The Road to the 2013 Premiership was released in March 2014.

Robyn Annear

"Moominmamma, from Tove Jansson's Moomin stories for children, lives for me as the most vivid female character in literature. While her husband exists on the brink or in the grip of a perennial nervous breakdown, Moominmamma is not only unflappable ('That's nice, dear') but blesses their child with that blend of unwavering love and benign neglect exhibited by all the best children's-book parents. Plus, there's her handbag: repository of every needful comfort, it must almost rank as a superpower. (Come to think of it, she's probably the nearest thing in literature to a portrait of my own mum.)"

Robyn Annear is the author of Bearbrass: Imagining Early Melbourne and A City Lost & Found: Whelan the Wrecker's Melbourne which will be reprinted by Black Inc. in April 2014.

Catherine Deveny

"Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz is my favourite literary hero. What a woman! You gotta love her guts, determination, bravery and awesome shoes. That costume! Nailed it. I really, really related with her as a little 12-year-old trapped in my black and white world of suburbia, heteronormity and Catholicism. She broke through into the technicolor magical land, which, like everything amazing, had its dangers. In Oz she was able to see everything for what it was. When she pulls back the curtain, revealing that the Wizard Of Oz was actually just a mere mortal, well, I cheer every time! Many people believe the movie is about menarche (a girl getting her first period). To me it's about atheism. Hell is truth seen too late and the truth will set you free."

Catherine Deveny is the author of The Happiness Show.

Claire Dunn

"It's inside the covers of Monica Furlong's Wise Child chronicles, a seldom known young-adult fantasy series written in the late 1980s, that my heroine is found. Set in a remote Scottish village soon after King Arthur's time, nine-year-old Wise Child is taken in by Juniper, a wise healer and sorceress. Living under the constant threat of persecution, Juniper lives peacefully with her plants and goats. She is powerful and knowledgeable and yet with a gentle lightness of heart. Oh, how I wanted to be Wise Child taken under Juniper's wing!"

Claire Dunn's first book My Year Without Matches: Escaping the City in Search of the Wild will be published by Nero in June 2014.

Michelle Law

"Jane Eyre, for her strength of character to stand by her convictions despite mistreatment and then, temptation. I love her sensitivity and her resilience; she’s able to grow from difficulties instead of being destroyed by them. And more recently, Plum from Sonya Hartnett’s Butterfly – one of the most gripping and realistic portrayals of a young woman that I’ve ever read."

Michelle Law is the co-author (with Benjamin Law) of Sh*t Asian Mother's Say.

Who is your favourite female fictional character? Leave your answer in the comments section to win a free copy of The Happiness Show by Catherine Deveny.