Ed­i­tor

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Profile - Tim Dou­glas

Like sen­a­tor Ge­orge Bran­dis — whose name I in­voked last week in this col­umn — I con­fess to hav­ing a bit of a thing for a good, solid set of book­shelves. Noth­ing too fancy, just something ro­bust enough to house a few Shake­speare col­lec­tions, a Malouf or two, some Or­wells, Whites, Win­tons and Wordsworths, the odd po­lit­i­cal or cricket bi­og­ra­phy and the hodge­podge of dusty hard­backs, origamied pa­per­backs and pho­to­graphic es­says I’ve col­lected, like mem­o­ries, over a life­time. This week, af­ter re­cently mov­ing house, I re­leased my book col­lec­tion from its five-month stint in stor­age cap­tiv­ity. While restack­ing, and re­cat­e­goris­ing — there surely is a Ger­man word for the great plea­sure de­rived from this ac­tion — I came across a copy of Peter Carey’s Os­car and Lucinda, a hard­back I must have pil­fered from my mum’s labyrinthine home li­brary years ago. The find, though, was serendip­i­tous. This week, on­line seller Abe­books.com an­nounced the rare sale of 33 first-edi­tion works by the Aus­tralian dual Booker Prize win­ner. Each of the books — first and lim­ited edi­tions — is signed or in­scribed by Carey. There’s no word on the iden­tity of the seller, but Os­car and Lucinda, Bliss, True His­tory of the Kelly Gang, 30 Days in Syd­ney, and the rest, could be yours for the out­ra­geously rea­son­able sum of $US2000 ($2640). Get in quick. By the time Carey wins the No­bel Prize in Lit­er­a­ture (check with your lo­cal bookie for the lat­est odds) the col­lec­tion will be worth a small for­tune. The ef­fects of ex-trop­i­cal cy­clone Deb­bie are still be­ing felt down the eastern seaboard, and few places were harder hit than Lis­more. The town on the NSW north coast was taken by sur­prise ear­lier this week when the Wil­sons river broke its banks and tore through the CBD. The Lis­more Re­gional Gallery felt the brunt, with a re­ported 1.2m of wa­ter flow­ing through its down­stairs gallery. Staff and an army of hardy vol­un­teers — all gal­lantly cap­tured on the in­sti­tu­tion’s In­sta­gram ac­count — man­aged to sal­vage the gallery’s col­lec­tion, which had been in stor­age on the ground floor when the tor­rent hit. So rapid was the del­uge, though, that tens of thou­sands of dol­lars worth of ex­hi­bi­tion equip­ment and prop­erty could not be saved. The flood also af­fected artist stu­dios and the North­ern Rivers Per­form­ing Arts or­gan­i­sa­tion’s head­quar­ters. Flood in­sur­ance is a messy and ar­cane busi­ness, and so a crowd-fund­ing site has been set up to help the re­gion’s cul­tural sec­tor get back on its feet. To do­nate, head to the North­ern Rivers Arts Flood Fund‘s GoFundMe page (www.gofundme.com). It wasn’t quite Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, but Stargaz­ing Live, ABC TV’s live as­tron­omy ex­per­i­ment this week, was something of a work of art in it­self. Not even the teem­ing rain on Tues­day across Aus­tralia, “the best place on earth to see the stars”, could wipe the imp­ish grin from the face of Bri­tish physi­cist Brian Cox as he and host Ju­lia Zemiro, Guin­ness hap­pily in hand, charted the his­tory of the uni­verse in the south­ern sky. Just bril­liant. In­ci­den­tally, Van Gogh — the big­gest Aus­tralian ex­hi­bi­tion of whose works is soon to open at the Na­tional Gallery of Vic­to­ria (see story on Pages 8 and 9) — likely would have ap­proved. “I know noth­ing with any cer­tainty,” the Dutch artist once said. “But the sight of the stars makes me dream.”

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