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A Long Weekend In Belfast

John Bryson
9781922219268
2014-06-01
A$3.99
John Bryson

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A novella sized piece covering the Ulster troubles, called the Stormont Riots, the street battles and intrigues of Ulster Protestants and IRA.
"John Bryson has the skills of literary journalism, and abundant luck" a Penguin Books copywriter wrote for a back cover, and this was the case in 1986 in Belfast, where I was to launch a book, and stayed on to cover the sectarian war of that year, the worst for many years.
'A man was crucified in a Belfast park last night...'


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A World This Size
Selected Stories
John Bryson
9781922219404
2014-06-01
A$3.99
John Bryson

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A World This Size.
You will have a restaurant like this in your city.
And, if you have spent time eating alone in restaurants, you will have felt the reverie of the imagination, which will cause you to scrutinise other diners for clues to their personalities and attribute to them lives you could find interesting. This is the story here.
A little Baroque music struts overhead. Here a man sits by himself. He is waiting on a martini. His fingers drum the cloth. Soon he falls to searching faces at other tables for something to hold his interest. His name is Freddy Unthank. Freddy would be hurt if we were to confuse his somnolent gaze with boredom. He has an eye for foible, and when he comes here (most Thursdays) he chooses his seat for the best view of the room.
Did the Lord Say Anything About a Serpent?
The scene is Paradise. In so far as time meant anything when the biblical world began, it's now around midweek, in the second month ever, and as for humankind, it is small enough that the singular pronouns, You and I, cover everyone there is.
For two voices, a sketch, at the very Beginning of the World.
I Keep Meeting My Grandfather.
Elspeth's grandfather has died. The reading of the will by the family solicitor shocks her parents who expect to be the beneficiaries. GranDoddie, as she has always called him, has left his substantial acreage to Elspeth.
And I hope this is not all Elspeth inherits from me.
Elspeth's parents are prim and conservative. GranDoddie attacks the pretentions of their luncheon guests.
He embarrassed us all. But I kept his silent score, following the points wherever he slammed them with the vacillating eyes of a tennis buff. There was seldom a re-match.
Kindly Death, a Right to Life Protest and a Shy Semite.
A VISITATION of Kindly Death is recorded by the Law List in a glass cabinet beside the sandstone doorway of Court Four in the City Courthouse, the sole item for the day's business, and for many days:
Trial: R v Ali Bashir. (1) Murder (2) Assist Suicide.
An elderly man will soon die of Motor Neuron Disease. He is determined to be present at his own wake. After the party he is found dead. His spouse, a younger Middle Eastern man is charged with his death.


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Among the Very Foreign

John Bryson
9781922219343
2014-06-01
A$3.99
John Bryson

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Five Asian pieces, four from Kalimantan, Singapore, Taipei, Hong Kong, and one column piece from Samarinda, in one volume.
1. His Brow in Feathers, the Dyak Chieftain and his Equation for the Order of Time.
A Festival of Redemption, led by the Chief of the People Benuaq, Dyaks of the Central Lakes, Borneo.
His lake was once a mountain, which inverted its form in an act of compassion for people who were without fishing grounds. The people are grateful. They understand the force of will in such a feat.
2. Bugis Street Shoes.
Joey, a child of Singapore, makes his living in shoe-shine, from table to table in the restaurant mall Bugis Street, centre of the drag-scene, and since demolished by government decree.
June in Singapore is not winter so much as a breath between summers, and Bugis Street is now gone, but you will get to the right time and place by imagining the sweet smells of fruit and vegetable rinds, the inconsolable cadging of cafe owners and hawkers, and so much bright blue light from second storey windows that you could read a menu sitting at any table in the street at midnight.
3. A Good Pirate Crew Can Swarm Sitting Down.
You can do business of any sort at The Gangplank. The Gangplank is a bar in Taipei where it costs ten dollars, in premium grade currency, for a rum highball with a twist of scurvy.
4. Borneo Ferry.
A Muslim schoolboy rides home obeying the wish of Allah that he be present at his father's death.
This river is the Mahakam, a trade line inland from the Makassar Straits. The lower reach is a sea-mile wide, roadway for colliers, barges, log jams of softwoods, and ferries like ours, carrying miners, timber-cutters, shoppers from far villages, rattan baskets piled high on the roof.
5. Parties All Over Town.
The Handover of Hong Kong to China, commissioned by News Limited for the Handover Issue.
The handing back to China of Hong Kong was cause for celebration for most Chinese all over the world. In Hong Kong parties were everywhere, some by Chinese who had been waiting on this for decades, some by westerners who had made much money under colonial rule and whose partying was nostalgic, as those for the Merchant Bankers and in the British and the American Clubs. The stories of those parties reflect the ways continuing expatriates hope their fortunes should carry into their future.


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Brilliant Artists in Trio

John Bryson
9781922219367
2014-07-01
A$3.99
John Bryson

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Brilliant Artists in Trio
A volume of three feature pieces.
1. Janet Baker, the Wind in Her Hair.
Opera's Dame Janet, now retired from the stage to song performance, takes to sea on a yacht, the better to understand the rhythms of Elgar's Sea Pictures, of which she is already the world's authority.
She was playing with the sound of the waves from the bow, it seemed to me, "Never before under sail', she said. It was very close to song.
2. St Brigid and the Wizard.
Paula Dawson is an artist who works with holograms. Most famous of her works is a virtual re-creation of her 1989 New Year's Eve party room the following morning, in which the debris recalls the actions in time past.
Here, she builds a hologram of the Holy Spirit, for the worshippers in St Brigid's Church, working throughout the night on a tremor-insulated stage near Adelaide.
3. Max Gillies, the Character Onstage.
Watches one of the finest character actors in the world, perform political satire to live audiences.
Gillies' own face is not as well known as those he has played behind, and whenever bailed up by some passing admirer he is deeply pleased, but his eyes cloud as if with a passing fear that he may be asked to prove himself now with a short performance as Ronald Regan or the Queen of England, right here on the footpath.


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Fancygoods, Over the Mountains

John Bryson
9781922219466
2014-07-01
A$4.99
John Bryson

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Here is Brodie, an expatriate trader in New Guinea, whose understanding of the sorceries and rituals he now lives with is moving close to respect and wonderment. He watches his visiting daughter, a twelve year old, being captivated by this culture of theatre.
The place was packed. Tiptoe, over the matt-black heads of the crowd, he could see the performers. He edged closer, but so rapt was everyone that none of them looked around. The figure who held their attention was not from anywhere Brodie could place, and indeed, more than anywhere else, he might have come from the grave. His eyesockets were painted with sulphur, enlarged to include much of the temples and the cheekbones, so bright a yellow that the eyes behind seemed empty. His skull was shaved and rubbed with ashes, and whatever hank remained of the hair was evidently the support for the plumes which pealed upward like golden-throated trumptes and for the crimson lances which entered the head, one on either side, which spoke of the fierce manner of his death.
When daughter Meg falls suddenly ill, Brodie fears she will be relying more on a matrix of magic rather than the sterile planes and inoculant infusions he would better trust.
This novella was first published in the Antipodes Journal, Austin, Texas.


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Hasta la Muerte, Amigo

John Bryson
9781922219039
2014-07-01
A$6.99
John Bryson

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(Spanish edition)
A novel written true to the histories, and true to the memories of Enric Torres i Barbo, whose life and philosophies this novel takes for its guide.
Twin boys Enric and Josep, at ten years of age, served as spies and couriers in the Resistance by the Republican Spanish against the invasion of Fascist forces in Spain, then from Italy and Germany during the Civil War.
In Catalonia the war begins in Barcelona.
THE MAZE of alleys and passageways of the old city as we passed through were not at all quiet. The closer we came to the Ronda Universitat the more gunfire we could hear. Not only from the direction of the Placa de Catalunya, it bounced from a building behind us, which made us crouch and whirl, and then from laneways where there was no one, as if the sound of war could stalk the town of its own accord.
The twins will go on, for the Resistance, to gather intelligence, to running propaganda leaflets and contraband across the French border, to guiding fugitives over the Pyrenees.
Of this time in his childhood Enric has said, 'It was so cold up there, I tell you, I pee icicles.'


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Homage to a Born Insurgent

John Bryson
9781922219428
2014-07-01
A$3.99
John Bryson

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A volume, four stories of Enric, his boyhood as a child undercover agent in the Spanish Resistance to Fascist rule after the Civil War. Fiction based on the true life of Enric Torres, narrator in the novel To the Death, Amic
Hospice
Enric, the boy of To the Death, Amic works as a smuggler for The Organisation, the resistance movement in Barcelona. From France, over the high country, he brings in ammunition, leaflets. This time his job is to smuggle a young woman north, across the French border, over the Pyrenees.
Where the night air is so cold I tell you, I piss icicles.
As a Bird, South
MOTHER was at the treadle. All I could see of her, by the sewing-bench lamp, were fingers as swift as shuttles, a scarf at her shoulders, and at the hollow of the throat her silver crucifix.
Mama, I said, I'm home. I was home from the prison, so expected a welcome.
Home from his prison sentence, for smuggling an illegal over the north border, Enric is summoned by the Organisation, the resistance, south to Cartagena. His age, at twelve, makes him a favoured courier for the underground, since living around the streets has trained his cunning beyond his years.
Barcelona Honours the Prostitute Maria Lopes
General Francisco Franco is to pay Barcelona a State Visit
The day chosen in secret for his reception here in Barcelona was no surprise to us, since the garrisons on the waterfront at Atarazanas and in the castle atop Montjuic were now crowded with the regiments of Navarre and with African Moors; the Guardia Civil enforced the nighttime curfew with companies on horseback, and factories were closed for three days so smoke would not entice rain.
Markswoman Jacinta Llano Moya, member of the anarchist cell named after the revolutionary prostitute Maria Lopez, prepares her welcome for the dictator.
An Old Lag's Guide to Barcelona
This guide, the now older Enric, shows off the history of the Old City where his boyhood was spent during the Civil War, as the narrator Enric in the novel To the Death, Amic
Walk LaRamblas, everyone does. This is the promenade. The centre concourse is a mall. Bulbs light the trees like stardust. Stalls stock newspapers in any language. Bird breeders sell pigeons and small parrots.


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In Rage, Rebellion

John Bryson
9781922219305
2014-07-01
A$3.99
John Bryson

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In Rage, Rebellion - A volume comprising three feature pieces:
1. Backstage at the Revolution
While the African National Congress was a banned organization in South Africa, and the white minority ruled with gunfire, the ANC theatre troupe Amandla toured the world. Amandla is Power. Every performer is a trained soldier and musician, dancer. Here is their tour of Australia.
Beginning in darkness, the Overture is unlike any music theatergoers have heard before.
2. Red Ragger.
Profile of John Halfpenny, union leader, disgruntled communist, the quarry of every conservative newspaper. Here, he addresses a strike meeting of metalworkers.
3. The Elemental Physick of Wrath.
Itself comprised of three pieces on the ignition of anger. Here are encounters with a snake, with mindless violence in an asylum, and with a whale in the Pacific.


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Islanders, Far South

John Bryson
9781922219282
2014-07-01
A$3.99
John Bryson

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Islanders, Far South - Three feature pieces and one column piece in one volume, events in the lives of southern fishing communities in Tasmania.
1.Pride of the Crayfish Fleet.
Life in the Bass Strait Islands, out of the Port of Lady Barron.
THE CRAYFISH I HOLD in my hand is forty years old. By whatever system of temporal measurement crayfish use, it is a very old man. In a few weeks its tail will be sliced into the white discs restaurateurs like to call medallions, and moistened with sauces. By then it will be in America.
2.The Oldest Abalone Diver in the Business.
The Oldest Abalone Diver in the Business is the man who began the abalone fishery in Australia. To better understand the pattern of natural distribution, he swam from south of Adelaide city to the Wilson's Promontory, a journey of a thousand kilometers.
The weather under the sea changes every few hours. Ebb tide here brings a warm current, hazy with microscopic debris of the shallows, and as fitful as a hot and dusty wind.
3. Digging Holes in the Sea.
Working throughout the night at sea, fugitive from un-named troubles in Ireland, Dublin Danny joins the crew, showing skills as a seaman, heavy smoker and chef.
Two of us stand on the rear deck, resting against the wheelhouse, poses much like nonchalance, but we're leaning there because the steel plates are warm from the heating inside.
1. Tasmania, a Lovesong.
Families, communities and voyages, beginning in Hobart Town.
SNOW ON THE MOUNTAIN above, and awash with the tides are Waterman's steps, where a pretty Gaff Trader lies forever in state, on show to the modern world, built one hundred and ten years back, so plying these Hobart wharves in 1912, in commission loading lumber, when a Norwegian anchored alongside, this the Fram, an adventurer, leaky and gouged from the ices South, lying back on her chain while a longboat ferried quiet Amundsen for the Dockside, he loosing his greatcoat for the walk to the telegraph, composing the words to be sent to his King.


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Stories of Laughter and Lament

John Bryson
9781922219381
2014-07-01
A$3.99
John Bryson

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Stories of Laughter and Lament, set among the filthy rich and the dirt poor, seven stories first selected and published by Penguin Books.
Widows
Charles Rand fell off his yacht, somewhere in the middle of the bay, on one of the first pale blue evenings of autumn. Later, the Coroner would be unable to fix that time more precisely than between six and ten o'clock. Newspapers, reporting that he had sailed off without crew, used terms which pictured Charles as a hardy loner. Anyone who knew him smiled at this.
So begins Widows, with the loss of the wealthy husband whom Dorothy Laird had caught, by playing her cards faultlessly, for marriage to the beautiful Elizabeth, her one child. Elizabeth is Dorothy's straight flush. This is the world of the Lairds.
Children Aren't Supposed to be Here at All
Troilus and Cassandra spend their days at a private school, are then alone until their parents come home from the office.
The best view in Sydney, panorama wall to wall, ten thousand dollars a foot. All that view, Troilus said, locks us in.
This is the world of Troilus and Cassandra. Troilus begins to spend more time alone in his room. Troilus has secreted an illegal kitten.
The Routine
An airplane journey, in reverie the narrator reprises scenes from the recent breaking up with his lover. His defence is hard-bitten cynicism. His neighbour in the next seat is spectacularly disabled.
He had a strangely taut face, of indeterminate age. Either thirty-five or very old, pallid cleft chin and lumpy nose. Describe it with artistic integrity:
Bent as a 1930 Labour politician's
Shapeless as a football after a wet game
Hit by a Bondi taxi, the trams were on strike
He is the other guy.
There.
But his shapeless neighbour displays a quiet brilliance with jokes, and likes to play the comedian, as a gift to his companion. Each is uniquely disabled, so a strong current of love begins between them. This is the world of the tragic human comedy.
Pedigrees
This is a world of croquet on the lawn, the breeding of horses for dressage, of dogs for the shows, and very little sanity.
It does not seem to be fear of falling which has made her unable, by herself, to move, although she is clinging to the bole of a white gum which overhangs the cliff. She is intent only on a bundle lying on the rocks fifty feet below her. It is the sodden and dislocated body of her daughter's rag doll Cindy. It is to take psychiatrists three months of gentle prying to release from Elinor's mind the belief over which it has closed. This belief is that she has thrown her own child over a cliff.
Inventory
A son of English Old Money, whose talents so far have won him note as a failure, expects Christmas dinner in Kent to win him derision from his father in front of his entire family.
But Sir George did not wait for Henry Edward Charles to recount, over the remains of the goose, the imminent failure of his second marriage, six years old in January; or the collapse of his racing stable, a draining of the finest blood ever exported from Ireland and New Zealand; or the sale of the few remaining blue-chip investments to pay his slandering creditors so he could remain in his club.
Ticket for Charity
When Charity Lord fell pregnant she told each of the six boys who were that month's quick loving, in turn, as they stumbled from the hotel.
Slow Billy, the dry-country farmer, became the boy who would marry her. He would also become the boy whose life is transformed by her fier


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The Personality of War

John Bryson
9781922219244
2014-07-01
A$3.99
John Bryson

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The Personality of War - A volume comprising five pieces.
Dresden.
Now an old man, a onetime Air Force flyer recalls his time in the night sky during the bombing of Dresden.
For the incineration of a hundred and forty thousand souls, if things went right, for the destruction of a graceful city, of its old walls and obedient gardens, they flew east. He was the navigator.
Rehearsals for the Death of Taipei.
One day every year Taiwan practiced its defenses against its possible invasion by China, or for its own invasion of China. Here is the moment in Taipei.
Battle Songs.
Music is as much the sound track to certain grainy recollections as it is to silent movies. Here are the popular songs of WW2 and the warfare they recall.
This Perilous Winter in St Moritz.
Holidaying at St Moritz as he had since childhood, German industrialist Herr Genscher rides the cable car to the mountain top to meet his son, and recalls his vacation here on leave from World War Two, as did resting British officers, sharing the ski runs.
The End of All Wars.
Four stories, moments which ended World War Two, moments for a small band of German women who formed a chamber orchestra in a cellar in East Berlin, moments for a fighter pilot in New Guinea who disobeyed the cease-fire, for another pilot who was exercising in clouds over the Arafura Sea when told the war is over, and the end of the War in Vietnam for a soldier so damaged by warfare he brings cruelty home with him as if it were a trophy.


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Three Revolutions
in the Equatorial Americas
John Bryson
9781922219329
2014-07-01
A$3.99
John Bryson

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Three Revolutions in the Equatorial Americas.
A volume of three feature pieces treating revolutions in each of Panama, Nicaragua and the building of tensions in Haiti.
1. In Panama, a Pantomime.
Billed as support for a rebellion against General Noriega, the US invaded Panama for Christmas 1989. A year later Western expatriates in their clubs and enclaves were still divided.
GENERAL NORIEGA'S portrait stood on the hotel bar, his cap crusted with laurels, stars the length of his epaulets, his cheeks pocked and grainy. The camera had caught him reviewing a parade.
2. The Play of Children.
In Port o Prince, Haiti, waiting for the elections, tension builds, as does the heat. Here, we sit in a restaurant, speaking of Haitian artistries, during a power failure.
We were all eyes, in this dusk. Mme Du Paix said, 'The Voodoo has taken over the Naive in our culture. No artistry speaks without voodoo.'
3. The Fall of Old Managua.
The Nicaraguan revolution split families, none more than the Reyes, in which two brothers each became prominent leaders of opposing factions. In the first free elections in a decade, during the period in which President Reagan was still denying collaboration with the Contras, the US backed faction lead by Violetta Chamorro took government.


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To the Death, Amic

John Bryson
9781922219664
2014-07-01
A$6.99
John Bryson

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A novel written true to the histories, and true to the memories of Enric Torres i Barbo, whose life and philosophies this novel takes for its guide.
Twin boys Enric and Josep, at ten years of age, served as spies and couriers in the Resistance by the Republican Spanish against the invasion of Fascist forces in Spain, then from Italy and Germany during the Civil War.
In Catalonia the war begins in Barcelona.
THE MAZE of alleys and passageways of the old city as we passed through were not at all quiet. The closer we came to the Ronda Universitat the more gunfire we could hear. Not only from the direction of the Placa de Catalunya, it bounced from a building behind us, which made us crouch and whirl, and then from laneways where there was no one, as if the sound of war could stalk the town of its own accord.
The twins will go on, for the Resistance, to gather intelligence, to running propaganda leaflets and contraband across the French border, to guiding fugitives over the Pyrenees.
Of this time in his childhood Enric has said, 'It was so cold up there, I tell you, I pee icicles.'


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Whoring Around
A Novella
John Bryson
9781922219442
2014-07-01
A$4.99
John Bryson

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Whoring Around, a novella in six stories.
Prologue
Blowing It
Between Whores
Dreaming of Glory
A Sense of Propriety
More and more we lunched at his tennis club. He had recently become its honorary treasurer. I remember an afternoon, with the washed blues and faint yellows of early winter, when we ate on the terrace. The stonework was damp where the sun had not touched it. The other tables were empty, so it was early in the week.
Humphrey's world was a cradle of security, supported by cocktail parties, sporting clubs and fours of Bridge. His wife Mimi derides his effort to take a top position in the Fossil Extracts Conference. She was wrong.
His Cartel takes him to Tokyo, where the pattern of his life falls into early conferences with Japanese executives until late, then sessions in the whore houses of the Ginza and their astonishing practises, which captivate him because he knows Mimi was happy to see him go.
Until:
Sitting in a profane and prodigal night-club next to a young and inexplicable whore was not where he wanted to be. He felt a fondness for the banal and lustreless dinner tables of his friends and for the comfort of his own rooms and wardrobes, his office and his club. Before the lights darkened again for the next act he left the table, to find the toilet, he told her, paid on his way out, and took a cab back to his hotel.

 

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