A LITTLE FLIGHT READING
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