Last weekend I gave a talk at the NSW Dickens Society, and they very kindly gave me a $50 gift voucher at Abbey's Bookshop. I wanted to use it quickly, as I have a tendency to let vouchers sit around. So on Wednesday, after my Odyssey class, I went down to Abbey's to use it up. There were plenty of things I wanted, but I saw they had Nicola Barker's The Cauliflower.
I have wanted this book for a while, since my friend Robert at the Vedanta Centre mentioned it to me. I have been very interested in Sri Ramakrishna for about twenty years, and have read many books about him - including Christopher Isherwood's Ramakrishna and His Disciples and Romain Rolland's The Life of Ramakrishna. I am very interested in seeing what a 21st century author might have to say about him in a work of fiction.
I still had money left on the voucher, so I also got the new Edmund White novel, Our Young Man. Of course, I started on that one almost immediately, and am just about halfway through it. It's odd. But I adore Edmund White, and even when he's odd he's incredibly, compulsively readable. Lots of handsome men, sex and real estate. What more does one want in a book? But I have to admit that these days I enjoy White's memoir more than his fiction.
I gave a talk on Noel Coward at Ashfield Library on Saturday, and a very sweet friend came along and brought me little pile of books she had found for me at second-hand sales. It was a lovely gesture, and exactly the sort of thing to delight my heart. If only people knew how deliriously happy I am with a couple of second-hand books. Better than emerald rings (which are mentioned in White's book).
Most importantly she gave me the most exquisite, mint-condition, first edition of Cecil Beaton's Fair Lady, a collection of the diary entries he made while making that film. Seriously, it's such a fine edition it looks brand new, even though it was printed in 1964.
She also gave me a paperback of Beaton in the Sixties, a 2003 collection of his unexpurgated diaries. Both of these are handy and of great interest at the moment because I am putting together a talk for September on Cecil Beaton. Of course, I have always loved the man.
The only other book I am giving some time to at the moment is Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic. I have been reading it very slowly, mostly because you can. I really enjoy whatever I do read - it seems to be an excellent book. Useful, too, because I am giving a couple of workshops at the SA Writers Centre this week, so I am always looking for new inspiration.
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