Today Northcote hosts the Melbourne Salami Festa.
Venue: Northcote Town Hall & Civic Square, 189 High St. Northcote
Date: Sunday 15th September 2013
Time: 11am – 5pm

I think there are more people in Northcote today than I have seen since High Noon!


There’s only one bookish thing more exciting than spotting one of your favourite authors on a list of prospective publications and that’s buying it after nine months of expectation. Complete, that is, with wrapper designed by one of your favourite contemporary cover artists. And buying it new! New, when you have a whole bookshop full of books!

I’ve long been an advocate of Zadie Smith, despite her three very popular, but fairly imperfect novels so far. It doesn’t bother me she’s not keen on interviews, I enjoy her style, her humour and the people you get to meet reading her books. NW, her latest, feels quite different though, somehow darker and more serious despite the bright cover designed by the much celebrated Jonathan Gray, a.k.a. Gray 318.

Probably best known for his striking Safran Foer wrappers, his other work is easy to spot among the shelves of homogenous stock photos and gold embossed titling. He’s designed wrappers for Jonathan Letham, Ali Smith, Marina Lewycka and William Boyd among others. Often using hand-crafted lettering or cut-and-paste-like designs that invite reader involvement, his style is bright and interpretive, which seems to suit Smith’s new novel. I think his best work to date would have to be the Nineteen Eighty-Four cover he did for Penguin in 2009. Free from iconic title or famous author for that matter, the classic is instead emblazoned with the slogan that looms larger than the novel itself, enveloped into popular vernacular as Big Brother has been.

Interview with Gray 318, from BBC.

Cover art by Gray 318 and again.

Zadie, Zadie, more, more, more Zadie.

PS. Incidentally Nineteen Eighty-Four is one the the books that people lie most about reading!! Why is this? Maybe because most people were supposed to have read it at school, instead of gazing wistfully at the tree out the window or scribbling daydreams in their binder??

PPS. People need to buy things new sometimes in order for there to be secondhand things :)

PPPS. OK, there are lot’s of exciting bookish things really…


The tale of a worm in love, two spiders at Christmas and some fleas with enormous dreams. These are almost fairy tales, magical fables both written and beautifully illustrated by David Lee Smyth, in an exquisitely bound edition printed on recycled paper and including a recording of each story. Conundrums and conversations to contemplate by the light of the moon and the rustle of leaves, our favourite is a requiem for a smiley ladybird gazing into a droplet of water. The book would make a lovely gift for either adult or child.

David is an artist, musician and actor. Mooseman is the company he runs with his wife Kylie. Together they work on animation, film and art design for CD’s as well as publishing. Inspired by their great working relationship and intrigued by their many pursuits we asked Kylie a few questions about their joint venture:

What are both of your backgrounds?

My background is in theatre, then spending a considerable amount of time in Los Angeles in and around the film industry.

David’s background is in art and creation, whether that be visual, music, performance or story telling.

How long have you collaborated as Mooseman?

Mooseman was created in November 2010. We began it together and continue to do so in partnership.

How long has David been writing?

David has been writing concepts and ideas for projects and characters for approx 15 years, and he just said over my shoulder probably since he was a child, alone is his room playing with his dolls, action figures! he said, so 30 years!
What came first the aesthetic, the ideas for the illustrations or the stories themselves?

The stories came first, back in 2004. David had an old exercise book and wrote for over four months at train stations, on buses, in cafes, where ever his was and whatever came into his head at the time. They were recorded in 2006 and appeared in a conceptual art exhibition in 2008. Feedback on the stories is what began the creation of the first volume of Almost Fairy Tales.

What materials did you work in for these illustrations? And the stories? Note book or computer? What was the writing process?

All the art for the book was done on individual lino prints and printed on recycled paper in our living room. All stories were typed out on an old 1950’s Olympia type writer. Nothing was computer generated. Even the books were printed on recycled paper and handbound. David created the handwriten font for character dilogue and the front cover was done using the old school stencils!

Fairy tales were originally an oral tradition is this why you decided to include the CD?

The CD came before the book as David has many character voices that he felt wanted to tell the stories. One has been made into an animated short, The Teeny Tiny Water Droplet. We have a plan to animate more in the future.

How long did it take to get the book together?

From the original stories, which are all hand written in an old exercise book, to the final book you have in your store took six years! Although once the book was decided upon, all the art and the design took just over a year.

How many more volumes do you expect to create and what else are you keen to publish?

There are sixty short stories to choose from, but some of them will exist alone, maybe as animations, or even short films. I do however see maybe another two to three volumes.

Any advice for the self-publisher or would-be fairy tale writer?

Nike beat us to, just do it! Oh, maybe read them to people you trust and see if they like them. Then save up some money to do exactly what you want, but then be prepared to make adjustments to your ideas to get it done. And there is no shame in starting small.

What new projects do you have planned and what are you two working on at the moment?

The Day the Mouse Died: A very True story


Almost Fairy Tale Volume 1 by David Lee Smyth. Moosman, Australia, 2010. In an edition of 500 this book is a hardcover in white embossed buckram with a companion recording of stories -$50. Take a listen to Spiderwrap and Three Fleas Who Said Please.


I just recently finished the book My Revolutions by Hari Kunzru, which put me in mind of A Sentimental Education -disillusioned youth, utopian ideologies and violent politics. Maybe no one else would draw this comparison, but I did. One of the most enduring images from Flaubert’s masterpiece, for me at least, is the detailed description of the food. Outside the monarchists and republicans are waging war against each other, barricading the streets and storming the palace, while inside tables are laden with glistening delicacies like exotic fruit. Politically charged youths and disenchanted mobs brazenly ricochet around a city that looks as delicate as a wedding cake, hacking their way through what they believe to be the establishment, while indoors people are dining off tables decorated with dolphins. I guess Flaubert was using food as a metaphor for material worship, an important theme in Madame Bovary as well. Ironically,  it is material things for which Flaubert is being remembered by illustrator and cover designer Joanne Neborsky; inspired by a catalogue of the author’s personal effects taken twelve days after his death. The print available here, seems appropriately detailed, like Flaubert’s writing. The Paris Review has published a Q&A with Neborsky the last question being if someone were to make a poster of your personal belongings, what would it include? Hmmm…lots of books…

Liner Notes: Ziggy Stardust

Ziggy plays guitar in Northcote this weekend in a spoken word tribute show called Liner Notes as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival. This year’s line up (including Emilie Zoey Baker, Yana Alana, Deborah Conway, First Dog on the Moon, TimFlannery, Benjamin Law, Omar Musa, Michael Nolan, Alicia Sometimes & Sean M Whelan) will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Ziggy Stardust (an album that takes me back only about 18 years actually, to Oegstgeest, The Netherlands and a lot of earnest young singing -eek!).

Liner Notes is in its seventh year and has previously featured Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Madonna’s Like A Virgin and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. Tickets cost $25 dollars, the Regal seems the perfect venue for such a extravaganza…so get your sparkles on!

PS. Should you buy a  winning raffle ticket at the event you could just be lucky enough to win a $100 Brown & Bunting voucher…take you protein pills and put your helmet on!