New book giveaway: ‘When we think about Melbourne’ by Jenny Sinclair

Detail from cover of 'When we think about Melbourne'

Affirm Press has kindly supplied two copies of Jenny Sinclair’s beautiful book, When we think about Melbourne, to give away to readers of The Melbourne Urbanist.

To be in the running to get a copy, all you have to do is say which shopping/activity centre in Melbourne you think is the best. Follow this link to enteror go to the Pages menu in the sidebar (don’t enter on this page). Entries close midday Saturday, 3 September 2011. One entry only per person.

As usual the quality of your nomination has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on whether or not you’ll win a copy of the book. The winner will be determined at random. However, a little explanation is encouraged. If you’re stuck, “the Bourke Street mall”, is acceptable.

If you’re one of the winners, you’ll have to provide Affirm Press with an Australian address they can post the book to (I won’t know who you are or where you live).

Here’s how Readings describes When we think about Melbourne:

Considering most Melburnians remain as steadfastly loyal to their city as they do their chosen AFL team, Jenny Sinclair is not alone in her love of Melbourne. When We Think About Melbourne charts the geography of Melbourne by exploring the historical and cultural significance of its landmarks and suburbs. Each section is accompanied with images and maps, which make for an interactive reading experience.

Sinclair’s interest lies in the way people make sense of their surroundings and come to call a particular area home. She does this through analysing the importance of maps, whether they are grand-scale drawings, something found on Google, or lines scrawled on notepaper. She also explores the potent effects of Melbourne on its artists – from Paul Kelly to Helen Garner – and how their works shape our own view of this ever-evolving city.

Here’re some images from this very visual book; here’s a review by Anson Cameron published in The Age; and here’s the author in conversation with John Faine (in company with Sonia Hartnett and Chopper Read!).

This extract from one of the chapters, City Stories, looks at how novelists have imagined Melbourne and here’s a small part of the rightly famous chapter on the Melway, a cartographic delight. Best of all though is this extract from a glowing review by The Melbourne Urbanist:

One of the observations made by Jenny Sinclair in When we think about Melbourne really strikes a chord with me – just how different the city is when you see it from the saddle of a bicycle. In this extract, she’s just cycled up the middle of St Georges Rd to Reservoir:

Perched on my bike on the track that runs through the park opposite these fine houses, I look down across Preston, Glenroy and to the city, and think: ‘it’s all downhill from here’. When I get home, I felt my sense of the world had expanded a little. Moments like this, of unexpected connection and revelation – I call them ‘surprised by joy’ moments after Wordsworth’s poem – come when we immerse ourselves, when we walk and ride; they are why we should get out of our cars for ourselves, not ‘just’ for the environment or for exercise

Cycling through the city is one of those pleasures that other less-fortunate souls haven’t experienced. Seeing the arse-end of factories from inner city bike trails, the undulating topography, the small exchanges of street life, or the great complexity and detail of inner suburban streetscapes that otherwise might seem regular and monotonous, is to be privy to a hidden world.

The author looks at how Melbourne has been approached by painters, musicians, novelists and film makers. She explores how television, the souvenir industry and the internet have interpreted the city and how indigenous and non-indigenous people see each other…….

The book opens with a spatial interpretation of Melbourne through the “lens” of the Melway refidex. Ms Sinclair frets that her book will only be known for this chapter but that’s probably inevitable. That’s because it’s innovative and creates wonderful behavioural and emotional “maps”:

You’re cycling down Canning Street, Carlton (Ref: 29 K12) towards the city, your earphones whisper the stories to you: this house was built with blood money, a murdering brother’s inheritance; the two genteel English sisters who lived in the terraces named ‘Irene’ and ‘Elaine’ were actually lovers, fooling the neighbours for forty years.

The use of maps as a device to interpret and decode is continued in the next chapter. It looks at Melbourne through historical maps, tourist guidebooks and even radical cartography, using the example of a tourist map issued in 1996 by the gay and lesbian community:

Where a government-issue map might show a coffee cup in Lygon street or a lion at the zoo, this one is packed with (iconic) stereotypes: pouting drag queens and moustached leather-boys prance across its pages……

DON’T ENTER HERE – FOLLOW THIS LINK.

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