– CLOSED – Black Glass

THIS COMPETITION IS CLOSED – The winners are Colinbong (Blue Train Cafe) and Julian Wearne (The Carlton).


Thanks to Scribe Publications for making two copies of this wonderful novel about a future Melbourne available to readers of The Melbourne Urbanist. Go to Scribe Publications to see a short promotional video and plenty of complimentary reviews of this debut novel.

I read it last year and I reckon this piece by Gerard Elson at Readings sums it up well:

We’re not sure of the year in which Black Glass is set, though Mundell parcels out hints throughout. Enough time has elapsed since the present-day for Barack Obama to be referenced as ‘That old president guy’; inner Melbourne has been hollowed by economic collapse; a clandestine whiz controls public temperament through the deft modulation of light, sound and scent in contained spaces; and citizens who wish to live above the line submit their particulars to the National Documentation and Identity Database, while everyone else is left to roam the outlaying Regions as neglected ‘undocs’. It’s a bleak, recognisable vision of a possible tomorrow and Mundell colours it with imagination and intelligence.

The proliferation of corporate influence and state-sanctioned surveillance – and the ways people work to evade these all-seeing eyes – is key to Black Glass. Along with Milk, the aforementioned ‘moodie’, we follow undoc sisters Tally and Grace, who find themselves separated after an accident and eking out very different existences within city limits. There’s also Damon Spark, investigative reporter, as well as a host of memorable supporting characters, all of whom operate, to varying extents, in the shadows or at society’s fringe. Accordingly, Mundell lets her story unfold via various viewpoints and styles: notebook entries, transcribed conversations, descriptions of CCTV footage, typical third-person prose, etc. It gives the book the apposite paranoid feel of a dossier or official report, without ever calling too much attention to the stylistic device.

Here’s an extract from the review by Rjurik Davidson in The Age:

‘It is a Melbourne that keeps us absorbed all the way to the novel’s denouement. As in much speculative fiction, Mundell’s aim is to warn us against destructive trends in contemporary society. What, she asks in this lively debut novel, are we becoming?’

To be in the running to get a copy, all you have to do is say which café, restaurant or bar in Melbourne you think has the most interesting ambience. Not so much food, more the design, setting and people who frequent it. Submit your entry on this page, using the Comment box below. Entries close in ten days at midday Thursday, 15 September 2011. One entry only per person. 

As always, 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, elaboration is encouraged. If you’re really, really desperate and don’t care what the world thinks of you, “Pascoe Vale RSL Club” is acceptable.

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

18 Comments on “– CLOSED – Black Glass”

  1. mdonnellan63 says:

    Madame Sou Sou, in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy – inside or out.
    I haven’t been to France (boo!), but imagine that it’d be pretty close to what I hope to find one day in Paris. Last time I visited, the waiting staff were all Scottish lasses, so the illusion is dashed somewhat.

  2. Georgie Foster says:

    Lanes Edge- Bourke St Melbourne- it morphs from cafe to bar and back again

  3. Colinbong says:

    Blue train cafe

  4. Aaron says:

    A Minor Place, Brunswick

  5. Michael O says:

    Animal Orchestra in Grattan Street gets my vote! Just across the road from Uni, it has the most wonderfully decorated walls, covered with old magazines. AO also has a very cosy room ideal for the winter and lovely outdoor street seating for the summer! Filled with students desperate for a coffee (and the coffee is good!), you can be guaranteed it will be busy!

  6. Pete says:

    The Auction Rooms (Errol St.) does it for me: a nice blend of coffee roasting, old building and milk-crate sculpture.

    Also love coming up out of the Degraves St exit of Flinders St Station into the baguette bar. No seating, but it just feels right.

  7. Michael says:

    The Florentino. I only ever ate at the counter in the bistro 30 years ago but I’d go there if I could afford it.

  8. wilful says:

    Lentil as Anything, Footscray

  9. Whilst the crowd can frequently be 80% suits The Carlton on Bourke Street has some pretty god damn amazing decor. Who can go past a real stuffed emu wearing a pearl necklace and a stuffed (also real) giraffes head & neck with big fake eyelashes attached? The Palms upstairs rooftop bar is also quite lovely on a hot summers night, good job getting the palm trees up so high too!

  10. Matthew says:

    The Moroccan Soup Bar in North Fitzroy. I love the fact that the menu is not printed.

  11. nick says:

    Cookie in Swanston St has the real sense of a hidden upstarirs space that turns out to be full of people

  12. philbo says:

    I agree with wilful – Lentil as Anything in Footscray. Theres an interesting mix of people that go there due to the transition that old footscray is going through to the new slowly gentrified footscray. Mood lighting is nice as well.

  13. billyg says:

    E55 Elizabeth St, City. Cool vibe in the basement – get your groove on late-night

  14. Dave says:

    San Churros at Southland. Definitely not hip. But watching my 4yo son slurp spoonfulls of caramel into his mouth makes it worth it.

  15. My favorite is Carlton Espresso on University Street, Carlton. Retro-euro arched colonnade on the interior, soft-touch square wooden stools and long communal tables with view to Lygon & the lane.

  16. URT says:

    Most interesting ambience? The hotdog place just outside the check-outs at CostCo.
    It got no hats in the most recent Good Food Guide, but comparing the people watching there to most Melbourne cafes is like comparing a Irvine Welsh novel to the Sunday Life Magazine.

  17. matt dobson says:

    My vote for best bar goes to the one that hasn’t a name and isn’t open yet. But it is in Preston, not Thornbury (!) and within a short walk from my home. Opening soon apparently. My fave cafe is in Bermagui, so probably not eligible by definition.

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