Love is (still!) in the air
Well, as signalled last week, today is Valentine’s Day! But what we didn’t expect is the special love people have across the world for small specialist bookshops such as Red Kangaroo here in Alice Springs/Mparntwe. There’s a fascinating piece in a recent post at Book & Film Globe, an international blog site. The article “The Little Bookshop That Could (Or Couldn’t)” covers bookshops and ways they have (or haven’t) coped with Amazon and Covid-19 in the UK, France, Canada, Morocco, the US and Morocco. And Australia—with a special focus on Red Kangaroo Books! To quote:
… fortunately, some other bookstores in Australia have benefited from similar cultural impulses and drives. Red Kangaroo Books, in the remote town of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, specializes in books on Australian topics, and in particular the history, culture, and art of aboriginal Australians. There are books in dialects most English-speakers have never heard of. In March 2020, the pandemic had a terrible impact until a kind of negative reaction occurred and customers jumped into the breach.
“Local customers shopped with the intention of supporting our business. There has been a big campaign to encourage people to shop local. Our business has been quite steady overall,” says Bronwyn Druce, manager of Red Kangaroo Books.
Fiction sales have gone up and Druce has launched an online book club which has done quite well. With lockdowns in effect, people who otherwise would have traveled in January 2021 stayed around, and relationships with readers in town and around central Australia have grown, Druce says.
“Customers often buy books via our online store and then pick up the books from our shop. Interstate customers also shop from us online. They usually buy hard-to-find titles that they cannot find elsewhere. We also get inquiries from overseas, but the postage cost is high,” Druce adds.
Like bookstores in other parts of the world, those in remote parts of Australia have put ingenuity to work to make it through the pandemic. They have fared better than many, and the reason is not far to seek.
Check out the full article. We especially like the account of the bookshop in Casablanca and the one in Broken Hill.
Wow! … and thanks for all your support over the years, especially in this last difficult one.
This week we bid Alex farewell, he’s off to study Literature & Philosophy, thank you Alex, we wish you well. And, as we wave Alex off we welcome Tarn & Thor to the team, more on this next week.
Please read on for our weekly spotlight, Red Kanga Book Club announcement, Artist Spotlight, what’s new, new editions, coming soon, and top 10!
Before we go a reminder that Alice Springs discount voucher scheme starts up again tomorrow, 15th February.
Enjoy the week!
Bronwyn, John, Stephanie, Jo, Thor, Tarn & Bernadette
Spotlight: Truth Telling by Henry Reynolds
The other side of history writing
It is the 40th anniversary of the publication of The Other Side of the Frontier: Aboriginal Resistance to the European invasion of Australia by then-Townsville based historian, Henry Reynolds. At the time described as “the first serious production by a competent historian”, it was also the first Australian history book to carry a cover design by an Aboriginal artist—in this case Joe Geia. In describing Australian history “from the other side”—ie Aboriginal side—it was ground-breaking then. The publication this year of Truth Telling Reynolds continues his life’s task in seeing this country’s history from different perspectives than most of us learnt at school. On sale at Red Kangaroo, here is a link to a great interview between Phillip Adams and the author:
Red Kanga Book Club: Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
This Month’s Red Kanga Book Club pick is the Winner of the Booker Prize 2020 Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart.
‘An amazingly intimate, compassionate, gripping portrait of addiction, courage and love‘ The Booker Prize Judges
It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth). But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town. As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest.
Shuggie is different. Fastidious and fussy, he shares his mother’s sense of snobbish propriety. The miners’ children pick on him and adults condemn him as no’ right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.
Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain lays bare the ruthlessness of poverty, the limits of love, and the hollowness of pride. A counterpart to the privileged Thatcher-era London of Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty, it also recalls the work of Édouard Louis, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, it is a blistering debut by a brilliant novelist with a powerful and important story to tell.