Friday, 20 July 2018

"He" by John Connolly

This is a far cry from Connolly's Charlie Parker novels. It's a fascinating insight into the Golden Age of Hollywood, as well as a recount of the rise and fall of the world's most famous comedy duo, Laurel and Hardy.
In his three room Santa Monica apartment, Stan Laurel looks back at his life - his early music hall days in England, sharing rooms and comedy material with Charlie Chaplin, working for Hal Roach, making silent movies, the transition to talking pictures, Hollywood scandals (Fatty Arbuckle, Charlie Chaplin, Thelma Todd), his disastrous love life (marriages, remarriages, four divorces, mistresses) and his enduring love and respect for Babe (Oliver Hardy).
It is a story of  loss - not just lost millions but lost opportunities and the loss of his faithful comedy partner.
At around 450 pages (containing over 200 short chapters), it's a quick read because it is such an engrossing subject.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

"The Disappeared" C. J. Box - Joe Pickett #18 - A great winter-read

"Things almost got Western", remarks game warden, Joe Pickett, early in the book.
And they certainly do. Furnaces, fish-slapping, massive wind turbine projects, snow mobiles, cougars (the human kind), five star ranch resorts are in the mix this time. Nate Romanowski is back with a new form of interrogation (trout-slapping). It beats ripping off ears - used in earlier 'chats' with the local miscreants.
Concluding with a call from former-Governor Rulon, there is bound to be Joe Pickett #19.

Set in the middle of a bleak Wyoming (U.S.'s least populated state) winter, the reader is advised to snuggle up by an open fire with your favourite tipple.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

The coolest street in Australia - Brunswick St, Melbourne

Brunswick Street, is in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, just north-east of the CBD. It is a street that doesn't try too hard to be cool, it just is.

How to get there on foot:
Just 500 metres from Parliament Station or Parliament House, pass by St Patrick's Cathedral, walk across Victoria Parade and you're at the start of Brunswick Street. 

It is a blend of inner city battlers and urban hipsters. Home to an abundance of vegan eateries (one restaurant, Smith & Daughters, call their fare: "Plant-based dining"). There is a huge range of other restaurants, from Ethiopian to Malaysian, from Basque to Mexican.
Public housing towers, welfare agencies, thrift shops mix it with antique shops, Goth clothing stores, exotic bars (e.g. "Naked for Satan") and a bondage/fetish store ("Lucrezia + De Sade"). Window shopping recommended.
Looking north
Looking south (St Patrick's spire in the distance)

First major intersection after Victoria Parade is fashionable Gertrude Street
Victorian architecture meets street art
A florist is on the ground floor

Victoria Parade, East Melbourne

Forget Melbourne's Chapel Street in South Yarra, Sydney's Newtown/Surrey Hills or Brisbane's Fortitude Valley.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

"Marlborough Man" a thriller by Alan Carter - Kiwi-noir?

The joke title is wasted on millennials but this is a great read. You get two thrillers in one here - Sergeant Nick Chester hiding out from a vicious northern England criminal gang and his hunt for a child killer in the Marlborough Sound area of New Zealand.
Alan Carter (a Western Australian author - though he hails from northern England) might be better known for his Cato Kwong thrillers.
Carter perfectly captures the dry New Zealand wit. There are strong female characters - Vanessa, Nick's sagacious wife and Constable Latifa Rapata his wily, wise-cracking partner. The author seems to have a grasp of some of Maori culture, humour and sensibilities.
The South Island setting is atmospheric and integral to the plot.