Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Rodents of Australia by C.H.S. Watts and H.J. Aslin (Australian Natural Science Library)

The Rodents of Australia by C.H.S. Watts and H.J. Aslin (Australian Natural Science Library). Hardcover book published by Angus & Robertson 1981, 321 pages with black and white illustrations and maps as well as a few colour photographs.

This is the first book to be published which deals solely with Australia’s rodent fauna. It provides a comprehensive study of both native and introduced rodents, drawing attention to a large section of the Australian mammal fauna which is often overlooked beside the more widely publicised marsupials.”

Once again it's the time of year when for various reasons (I think it has to do with weather) I find myself actively combating against an influx of house mice, and on at least one occasion, a brown rat, both of which are pictured in this book.

House Mouse

These are not native Australian fauna and are not welcome here at Huc & Gabet headquarters. Fortunately I have an active working plan that seems to succeed to varying degrees. ….and before anyone out there comments on my level of household and bookselling cleanliness, I will add that I am not alone with my rodent problem which is evidenced by anecdotal discussions with my neighbours and a sudden run on pest control products at all of the local hardware stores.

This book deals with both native and introduced rodents which is handy, as sometimes it is a little hard to figure out which is which. In some cases it isn't that hard and rather than looking at a small rodent with disgust or combative thoughts, one can appreciate them particularly if you are lucky enough to see them in the wild... that is those native rodents that haven't been eaten by feral cats or foxes.

There's a lot of detail in this book which is part of a series of informative volumes looking at Australian Natural History. I was recently visiting another bookseller and admiring a different volume in the series whilst wondering why I haven't found more of these titles.  And of course a week later I find this gem. I have noticed that some natural history books are slow sellers. Regardless of this sad state of book buying affairs, I still persist. This is because I like a good natural history book.

Monday, November 24, 2014

France Australe: A study of French explorations and attempts to found a penal colony and strategic base in south western Australia 1503-1826 by Leslie R. Marchant.

France Australe: A study of French explorations and attempts to found a penal colony and strategic base in south western Australia 1503-1826 by Leslie R. Marchant. Hardcover book published by Artlook Books 1982, 384 pages with black white illustrations and maps, as well as a few colour illustrations.

Professor Marchant spent over 25 years thoroughly investigating an untold story which he believes is worth telling. This book will revolutionize the teaching of the history of the exploration and foundation of Australia. Based on previously unused naval and other archival records in France, tells for the first time the fascinating history of French explorations and plans to colonize western Australia in the pre-British period from 1503 until 1826.

The French president Francois Hollande was recently here in Australia chatting it up with other world leaders at the G20 summit in Brisbane. This was the first time in over 25 years that a French president had visited Australia.*  I guess he didn't have much choice in the matter as he was expected, whether he liked it or not, to attend this gaggle of world leaders. The fact that it was in Australia meant that the 25 year embargo/snub/whywouldievervisitthatshithole was finally broken... and surprise surprise, he even managed to hang around for a few extra days... and even more surprising he seemed to enjoy our warm friendly Aussie hospitality. Fortunately there was no shirt fronting of Francois, so he may come back.  

There was a time when the French were a lot more interested in Australia than they have been in the last 25 years. Matthew Flinders (the first bloke to sail around the edges) encountered the French sniffing around prime real estate in 1802. Apparently it was a friendly encounter yet a little bit of a suprise. According to this book, our recently re embraced friends, the French, were keen on bits of Western Australia for quite a while before, during and after Matthews voyage. They sent a number of ships and expeditions down under to check it all out, yet managed to not call any bits of Australia “la maison”. And then, in 1826, the Brits annexed a large chunk of unannexed Australia (now Western Australia) which saw the French loose interest and look elsewhere for a home away from home. It makes you wonder if they had of been successful if we would have eventually become as bi-lingual as they are in Canadia.

*Radiation levels are now safe (?).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Digital Electronic Music Synthesizers by Delton T. Horn.

Digital Electronic Music Synthesizers by Delton T. Horn. Paperback book published by TAB Books 1988, 259 pages with black and white photographs and illustrations.

Brand-new on the electronics scene a few years ago, music synthesizers quickly became standard equipment for every musician. Now the introduction of digital synthesizers has re-revolutionized the industry. It’s almost too good to be true that the tremendous sound advantage of digital music can also be had for less money! Digital Electronic Music Synthesizers—2nd Edition explains just what synthesizers are, what they do, and how they have revolutionized the music industry.”

I know i'm not the only bookseller synthesizer enthusiast in the world. There is at least one other in Paul Perry of Allsorts Books in Northcote (Melbourne, Victoria) who is very authoritative on the subject. I've encountered a local book buyer who besides being a book buyer, was also into the fetishistic world of synthesizers. He even bought a book on the subject from me at one stage, which goes to show you that there is a market for books on this subject. Sadly, he recently passed away, but i'm sure there are others out there who once they have stopped twiddling their knobs, will realise that there are books on the subject as well.

I still own a few synthesizers. A couple of vintage digital numbers that don't make it into this book, and even a few older vintage analog monsters that sadly don't get used as much as I would like them to be. But they are precious enough to me to not get rid of them... yet.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

A History of Road Trains in the Northern Territory 1934-88 by John Maddock.

A History of Road Trains in the Northern Territory 1934-88 by John Maddock. Paperback book published by Kangaroo Press 1989, 176 pages with black and white photographs and a few black and white illustrations. EX LIBRARY.

Road trains are unique to Australia, and in the outback where there are no rail lines people depend almost entirely on the services provided by this remarkably efficient transport medium. As camel trains began to fade into the background of transport in this country the first road train made its appearance in the Northern Territory. It was Government-owned and served remote stations and settlements throughout the Territory. The post-war period, especially the 1950s and 1960s, saw dramatic development of road train operations, as hauliers progressed from the use of sturdy ex-defence force vehicles to modern powerful British and American marques.” 

There is a lot of nothing out there in the remoter parts of Australia. When I write the word “nothing”, I am referring to human habitation and influence as there is quite a bit of something other than “nothing” out there. On both of my rather brief visits to central Australia, I was amazed at how much “something” there actually is. Maybe it's just me, but for some reason I thought all those empty bits marked with the word “desert” meant lots of sand and nothing else. How wrong was I, there's heaps of stuff out there... including Road Trains.

Road Trains are part of the scenery in outback Australia. It's a long way to the coast where most people live and road trains are used as an economical way of transporting goods both ways too and from the remoter less habited parts. There's a certain romanticism about these juggernaut behemoths of the outback and it is this romantic idea of conquering distance and the harsh elements that a book like this one taps into. A history of this conquering can only be a good thing.

 Road trains surrounded by something

(Good) Books on trucks can be popular with the book buying public and a book such as this about a very specific function of trucks in a specific area, is a bit of a find... at least I think it is. Unfortunately the book is ex library and being an ex library paperback, this means lots of library markings and unremovable clear contact (plastic) to the cover. When selecting books for sale, I tend to avoid this sort of thing as I believe it's not really something that most of the book buying public wants. A second hand book which is close to new is more desirable than a book that is clearly secondhand and obviously ex library... unless the book is on a subject that is desirable... such as trucking history in the Northern Territory. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Sincere Christian Instructed in the Faith of Christ From the Written Word Volume 2 (by George Hay).

The Sincere Christian Instructed in the Faith of Christ From the Written Word Volume 2 (by George Hay, no author listed). Hardcover book (vintage leather bound)(no dust jacket) published by Dublin P. Wogan No 23 Old Bridge 1801, 396 pages.

George Hay (1729 – 1811) was a Roman Catholic bishop and writer who served as the Vicar Apostolic of the Lowland District in Scotland from 1778 to 1805. He published the first English Catholic Bible printed in Scotland; but the work which secured his own reputation as a religious writer was his cycle of Catholic doctrine entitled The Sincere Christian, The Devout Christian, and The Pious Christian, published 1781–86.”

(I know i've written about this issue previously, but here I go again...)

This is volume 2 only. Usually I pick up lone wolf volumes by mistake and from what I can gather this is not an uncommon thing for booksellers to do in the heat of the moment. I've seen bookcases full of lonely volumes out the back of other booksellers premises, pining for their partners (…the books, not the booksellers), waiting patiently for the happy reunion that realistically will never happen. During a frenzied book selection process, it can be hard to carefully consider each book as carefully as they probably need to be considered. It's usually only when you get home and start sorting through the haul/treasure/dreck that you realise the mistake you've made (again) and then vow (again) to be more thorough when selecting under pressure. These errors can include unseen damage, faulty items, etc etc. For many of us it is hard to admit the mistake and move on, hence bookcases full of single volume multivolume sets.

A single volume pining for it's partner

I recently found this book with a whole lot of other vintage volumes that unfortunately were not as vintage as this one... and fortunately at the time, I did realise that it was volume 2 only. This means that when I got home and began my sorting process, I was not surprised/disappointed/pissed off, at another book buying error. This time I knew what I had done. It's not that I knew the title, was excited by the subject or had an idea of it's $$$ value. No, this was purely a textural appreciation of a fine, very worn, vintage volume. It was this feel and overall visible aura of vintageness which included the paper stock, the font, the language contained within and the sense of time, that attracted me to it. Sometimes we make mistakes, I don't think I have this time around. This is a beautiful book.

Like “Fifty Shades of Grey”, this book is part one of a series of volumes. George Hay, the author, was notable for some hard core catholic publications including the first English Catholic Bible (…he didn't write it, he just published it). This particular edition is from 1801 and I believe it's not a first... but who cares, it's from 1801, that's 213 years ago... and it is very rare. Rare enough for me to not regret picking up this wonderful and beautiful single volume of a 2 volume set. ...and like Fifty Shades of Grey, I can't see myself reading it... although if I had to make a choice between the two...!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Caravan Chef 2: Around Australia with 30 Ingredients by Eva Stovern.

Caravan Chef 2: Around Australia with 30 Ingredients by Eva Stovern. Hardcover book spiral bound with pictorial boards (no dust jacket) published by Explore Australia 2009, 127 pages with colour photographs.

Caravan Chef 2 takes you travelling around Australia with just 30 ingredients! Whether you’re travelling in a caravan or campervan, camping in a tent or holidaying in a cabin, Caravan Chef 2 makes cooking on the road a breeze. All you need is seasoned traveller Eva Stovern’s 30 essential ingredients, some basic equipment and utensils, and you’re off!” 

30 ingredients, that's it. I've been in a camping type situation where food access was a little limited. There were 5 of us and we had supplies... maybe not as many as we would have liked... and I don't seem to remember there being 30 different bits, but I do remember that some fresh veggies and a bit of fruit was something that would not have gone astray in the wilds of Central Australia.

There was a sardine incident on the edge of Lake Eyre. Unfortunately the lake was a lake at the time (it's normally salt... and void of sardines) and from where we could see it, there was a lot of mud between us and the water. The tin of sardines was opened with considerable difficulty as the opening mechanism had broken and we didn't have one of those important ingredients that every camper should have... a can opener. But we did manage to get it open... with a lot of mess... oily fishy mess. The sort of mess that you want a plentiful amount of water and soap to wash your hands with. As I mentioned, there was water on the other side of the mud.  It was unreachable and salty... possibly a great 31st ingredient. So close, but so far. Yes, we did have water with us, which didn't really seem to be enough to get rid of the oily fishyness which then moved with us from the fly infested oily fishy outdoors into the close confines of our very full oily fishy station wagon. The joys of roughing it in the wilds of central Australia, have never been as good as this!!!!

This book if for people who are a little more prepared than us city slickers ever will be. 30 ingredients and you can eat like a Masterchef judge covered in flies. Looking at the list of the 30 ingredients and picturing from memory the grocery shelves at the Oodnadatta roadhouse, I don't seem to remember fresh tomatoes, lettuce, capsicum, zucchini or cauliflower being readily available. I do remember the Oodna Burger though, a speciality of the Oodnadata roadhouse... it was a little disappointing. Maybe things have changed.