Sunday, August 21, 2011

Across the Border: Potts Point: Retailers: The Potts Point Bookshop

A promising blue sky appeared above the neighbourhood yesterday, so I ditched my usual Saturday morning house-cleaning ritual and set off outside to enjoy the day. I'm glad I didn't waste time inside because it was one of those days that remind me yet again of why I love this neighbourhood so much. I saw flowers in the most amazing colours at the Kings Cross markets, sunlight running like a line of silver around the clouds, a flash mob at Poos on Sticks, a warped looking stretch limo cruising down Macleay Street and I even met a sausage dog called Malcolm. 
Later on, when I zipped into The Potts Point Bookshop in the Pomeroy building on Macleay Street, the brilliance continued. 

The bookshop was celebrating the inaugural National Bookshop Day, an Australian Booksellers Association initiative that coincides with the launch of two new campaigns: the ABA's IndieBound and the City of Sydney's Shop Local, which are aimed at encouraging residents to support their local shopkeepers. I was happy to oblige, but I was also drawn to the shop by the promise of in-store readings by Razor author Larry Writer (below right) and PM Newton (below left), whose debut novel, The Old School was released last year. My friend John Webber also came along and happily agreed to take the pictures for this post.

Newton (first name, Pamela) read the opening chapter of her book, which follows police detective Nhu 'Ned' Kelly as she investigates a double murder, and is set in Bankstown, in Sydney's west, Greenwich, north of the city and Goulburn in the NSW Southern Tablelands region.  
Writer then read an edited version of the final chapters of Razor detailing the last rites of Razorhurst and the deaths of brothel madam Tilly Devine and sly-grogger Kate Leigh. Hearing Writer read from the book it struck me how perfect the writing is: laden with colour and detail, based on solid research. Here is Kate Leigh as an octogenarian resting ''her aching bones in the small, dark room upstairs at 212 Devonshire Street where she lived alone with her memories, the bottles and bouncers of her sly-grogging days having long since vanished. Few people bothered to visit her, but she always kept her pantry stocked with biscuits and tea in case someone dropped in for a chat . . . she lived in the past and reminisced a lot.''

After the reading, the pair had a ''conversation'' about their books. I haven't read The Old School but it sounds excellent and is praised in the cover-blurbs by actor-author-critic Graeme Blundell, Underbelly author and journalist Andrew Rule as well as action novelist Matthew Reilly.
One of the interesting things that came out of the conversation was about policewoman Maggie Baker, whose memories of Leigh and Devine are included in Razor. Writer interviewed Baker for the book but she was so afraid of retribution, even in the late 1990s, that she insisted on a pseudonym being used. So Maggie Baker she aint. 

The conversation sadly ended but then a bookshop assistant cracked some Champagne open and things were looking up again. With glass in hand I purchased The Old School and asked Newton (below left with fan) to sign it for me.   

I also cornered Writer (below left with fan), literally, in a corner of the bookshop, so that he could sign the copies of Razor and Bumper that I had brought from home. It was the first time I had met Writer and of him I have to say two things. He is extremely kind and friendly and admits to being shy. Sixty is obviously the new 40. Seriously, I cannot believe he is 61. 

Speaking of numbers, the sparkling wine being drunk amid the books was also to celebrate Anna Low's fourth year as owner of The Potts Point Bookshop. I wish I had known the shop had changed hands earlier, because I purposely stopped going there when the former owners were running the store. Basically, I didn't think they were very friendly. But just look at Anna (below) and you can tell she is a lovely woman, especially when she passes around glasses of deliciously cold sparkling wine to her customers. 

So I will definitely being going back to the shop, especially because I have my eye on an excellent pop-up book, which shows you how to cut paper to make your own pop-ups. It's designed for children but who cares. The shop also stocks the nice little colourful Moleskine notebooks that I like to use and has an excellent range of locally-made birthday and blank cards. The children's section is also impressive with a range of book-related toys such as a Hungry Caterpillar wheeled, wooden pull-along. If I had a spare few hundred dollars I could have easily dropped it on some of the recipe and gardening books too. And I wouldn't mind snuggling with a book on the bench with this long-legged floral animal:

The Potts Point Bookshop
14 Macleay Street
Potts Point NSW 2011
02 9331 6642


Billie Bites said...

Great to see a neighborhood book shop still going strong - my friend just lost her job at Gleebooks

Casandra said...

Thanks for blogging about the reading, because of that I was at the event as well on Saturday and I have to say how lovely was Larry Writer! I had to leave straight after so missed out on the champers and of coarse meeting you, but managed a great chat with them both beforehand.

Anonymous said...

Hiya, my friend Pam Newtown directed me to your post. Nice write up of what sounded like a terrific event.

Violet Tingle said...

Hi Cassandra, Larry was lovely! It was so good to meet him. I could have picked his brain for hours too as he knows so much about the area.
Hi Angela, It was a fun event and I am now looking forward to having a day off to read Pam's book.