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HU­MOUR Pas­sen­gers Who Make Your Flight Hell: The Lighter Side of Fly­ing Ge­of­frey Thomas and oth­ers (Aero­space Tech­ni­cal Publi­ca­tions, $24.95) MOST of us have flight-from-hell sto­ries, whether it’s about de­lays, the over­weight per­son you have to share half your seat with or the the­atrics of the flight crew. (Vir­gin Blue’s cabin at­ten­dants are of­ten fer­tile ground: ‘‘ Here’s a whis­tle for at­tract­ing sharks,’’ is one of my favourites in the safety brief­ing.)

The sub­ti­tle is re­ally what this book is about: the lighter side of fly­ing. Ge­of­frey Thomas and his three co-au­thors have cast the net far and wide to pro­duce 183 pages of mildly amus­ing sto­ries (with car­toons by John Cheev­ers).

Th­ese tales rarely run to the laugh-out­loud variety; a smile is as much as you can hope for. Air rage makes up one of the fun­nier sec­tions, a sign of the times, per­haps. Drunken Aus­tralians loom large, un­for­tu­nately. Some of the ex­changes be­tween air-traf­fic con­trollers and pi­lots are amus­ing, too. Air-traf­fic con­trol: ‘‘ Can you ad­vise me what the show­ers are do­ing to the north of the field?’’ Pilot: ‘‘ They are rain­ing on things and those things are get­ting quite wet.’’ Barry Oliver

LIFE STORY Quiet Snake Dream­ing Denise Lawungkurr Good­fel­low (Scrub­fowl Press, $20) THE Ade­laide-born au­thor, who has been based in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory since 1975, is a for­mer Dar­win city coun­cil­lor and buf­falo hunter and has writ­ten de­fin­i­tive guides on the birds and the fauna of Kakadu and the Top End. But this is a much more per­sonal book. Denise Lawungkurr Good­fel­low was adopted by an Abo­rig­i­nal sis­ter about a decade ago and has worked since with marginalised com­mu­ni­ties.

Her story is one of in­tense sad­ness, in­clud­ing child­hood abuse and the sui­cide of her young brother, but Good­fel­low’s is an in­spi­ra­tional jour­ney, and she re­lates it here with great dig­nity and deep un­der­stand­ing of the be­lief sys­tems, sor­rows and hopes of in­dige­nous so­ci­ety. To or­der: (08) 8932 8306. Susan Kuro­sawa

MEM­OIR A House in Fez Suzanna Clarke (Pen­guin Aus­tralia, $49.95) BRIS­BANE jour­nal­ist Suzanna Clarke and her ra­dio pre­sen­ter hus­band Sandy McCutcheon have a com­pli­cated tale to tell. It’s a story of restor­ing a tra­di­tional riad in the an­cient Moroc­can city of Fez, with all the ex­pected pit­falls of start­ing over in such a thrilling city. Un­like most books in the lifechange genre, this pro­duc­tion is styled like a mini cof­fee-ta­ble book with plenty of pic­tures to show the var­i­ous stages of re­build­ing and dec­o­rat­ing the house.

The end re­sults are gor­geous: tiled foun­tains, em­bel­lished arch­ways, hand­carved and painted ceil­ings and all the trap­pings of a com­fort­able, brightly coloured home. The nar­ra­tive is un­sat­is­fy­ingly thin in parts but the pho­tog­ra­phy def­i­nitely is gor­geous enough to con­sider an ex­otic Moroc­can trans­plant of one’s own. Alexandra James

AD­VEN­TURE This is Not a Drill Paul Carter (Allen & Un­win, $24.95) SELF-CON­FESSED adrenalin junkie Paul Carter can’t be ac­cused of a slow start. We join him in the mid­dle of a full-scale emer­gency on a Rus­sian oil rig. It’s list­ing badly and he’s among 120 men scram­bling for sur­vival suits and a spot on the near­est lifeboat.

Shaven-headed Carter, who lives in Perth, is also de­scribed as a mo­tor­bike fa­natic and mad­man (a favourite hobby is col­lect­ing knives). I missed his first book, Don’tTel­lMumIWorkon­theRigs(She ThinksI’maPianoPlay­e­rina Whore­house) , though quite how that ti­tle sailed past me is a mys­tery.

In Thi­sisNo­taDrill (get it?) he’s still work­ing on rigs, glee­fully re­count­ing all man­ner of du­bi­ous tales, many in­volv­ing bad lan­guage — the Ja­panese rig is an ex­cep­tion — or heavy drink­ing (on shore). Or both.

Our man’s never far from the ac­tion — coups, ri­ots, civil wars — but there are sur­pris­ing lighter mo­ments, such as when he is re­united with his fa­ther and a touch­ing pro­posal (ac­cepted). But he has a con­fronting way with words: Miguel has a face that looks like it’s been set on fire a cou­ple of times and put out with a cricket bat.’’ Hmm. Barry Oliver

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