The Opera of Water

Tim Mossholder

A young customer told me this today:

‘When I read, I can’t hear that well, and it makes mum mad. But I always read at least 20 pages. I just love to read, and when I get home from school I first organise all my books again because I like to move them around. And display them differently. I like to have the ones that are all the same size next to each other. It’s annoying when I get a series, and they’re not the same size. But the colours look good in my room, all the books and that. It’s like a waterfall or something, the way they go high up in stacks, up and down the shelves. I’m getting a new shelf soon. That’s for all the ones under my bed. The reason I can’t hear mum is because the books, no the story, makes a noise in my head, and it’s loud. You know when you are near the beach, near the rocks, and the water is loud. But you still can hear stuff. It’s like that. But when I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire I couldn’t hear anything…..’



If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller

Chris Brignola


‘The things that the novel does not say are necessarily more numerous than those it does say, and only a special halo around what is written can give the illusion that you are reading also what is not written.

Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller

It is true that what is not said also holds its own significance. Each visitor that stops to tell me something is offering me a tiny glittering chip from their reading life, and it is of no small value.

When Lyle left today he said that the reason he is reading Catcher in the Rye is to calibrate himself and see that all is running to reason.

I was informed that Wilbur Smith is getting too old to write properly.

A young woman said to me, ‘I want to write a book. The trouble is that I have nothing to write about.’ I said that nearly everybody feels this, so maybe just write about what you think and feel about your life so far.

She answered that so far it had not been that good.

Someone told me that they will die reading. So it had better be with somebody good. Like Umberto Eco.

I was asked for: I am Malala, An Atlas History of Australian Shipwrecks, Hunting with Eagles, Oceans of Nectar and The Red Tent.

All day, though I am still, I am not still. The landscape of every book described intrudes into my mind and I think about it.

‘I want that book where you can put the whole ocean in a bucket and carry it. In that bucket, the whole sea is there, but the bucket is not as heavy as you think. It’s by Neil Gaiman.’

‘There was this magic elf that had a flute made out of glass, and you could see inside it at the music and that. In the book it broke, and there was no other one. Do you have that book?’

‘Linwood Barcley, he wrote a book where there was a child who wakes up and goes downstairs, and her family, everyone had just disappeared….so shocking…imagine something like this happening for real. Every other book here is nothing compared to it. All other books are just the same as each other after you read this book.’

‘The Dark Road to Darjeeling is the best book you will ever read.’

‘Un Lun Dun is the best book you will ever read.’

‘The Wind in the Willows is the best book you will ever read.’

‘I’m going home now to have a cold beer and this here Lee Child. I’m pretty pleased.’

A lady said to me that her son re reads everything instead of reading new things. She said, ‘Do you think it’s ok? Why do they read things over and over? Don’t they get it all the first time…….?’


Photography by Chris Brignola


Coloured Glass and Noise going Past


Charlotte is a young reader who can stretch her eyeballs as she speaks in order to emphasise a point. She said, ‘Reading makes everything bigger than it seems. People don’t understand this. It is like looking through green glasses. Then through blue and then red. Then you can do two colours together. This is like reading. Instead of seeing less, you see more. I was also wondering if you have any of The Mortal Instruments

I have been asked: Do you think that you might get tired of this one day…….just sitting in a shop and not doing anything else? Just a shop. Everything going on outside and you just watching….is is like that?

Yes it is.

Frank came in today and told me that he is dying. He could not breathe well. He gave me two of his hand bound books because, he said, ‘You have been my friend.’

No, not everything is just noise going past.



Ashes Sitoula

Today a customer told me that Modesitt is a very good writer. In his last book he writes from both sides, from the side of chaos and the side of order, it’s brilliant.

‘I can’t tell you how he does it. Asimov is good too. Did you know he was an astrophysicist? Brilliant, brilliant! I can’t possible explain to you how this works…..writing from the side of chaos and then from the other side, but the books can be read over and over. I highly recommend you try one. They are just brilliant.’

This customer used his hands to demonstrate exactly how brilliant the books of Modesitt are, waving strongly and holding them wide apart to indicate quality.

I promised that I would try one.

Then he left, triumphant to have added another Modesitt novel to his science fiction collection.

(Photography by Ashes Sitoula)



Herge’s Pirouette


A couple told me this morning that they have come here all the way from Murray Bridge to get a sausage roll. And that they have a granddaughter who is a devil for reading. The book she wants is the one about the little girl who can pirouette! Over and over, the girl in the books does pirouettes out in the never never. Would I happen to have it?

I didn’t.

They were also anxious to get some Rin Tin Tin, hard to find these days but very good comics. They were so happy. They described their granddaughter who pirouettes all over the house, and how they all love the Rin Tin Tin comic books! She said that food and books go together, and he said that books go well with a gin and tonic. He said that he grew his own vegetables.

Later, when I was closing, I told Steve about the flooding here last week, and he told me that he’s glad he shifted up near the water tower because at least he is safe there. The people in the house that he was in before would have been completely underwater, at least he hoped so. Then he drove off in his gopher with two more James Patterson paperbacks jumping about in the front basket. He reads Westerns, Alistair Mclean, and James Patterson. He says that nearly everything else is shit. I asked him has he read the Tintin books, and he said that they sound like shit too!

Photography by Rubee Hood








Preston Pownell

Dion comes to visit my bookshop every day – although he is not well, and possibly  never will be. He no longer works. He loves films. He bought a copy of Twilight and has not yet left the first page, but he visits to check that the second volume is available should he ever need it.

He is very loyal to me and my shop, and every day checks to see that I am well, even though he is not. His few books that he owns are essential to him. He is always concerned for me because he thinks that I don’t get many customers, but he is not concerned for his own devastating health problems. He says that Twilight is the best writing about vampires there is and is always eager to talk about it, carrying the book everywhere with the bookmark always in page one. He is always laughs at my humble jokes.

Photography by Preston Pownell