Utopian Man by Lisa Lang

I’m in love with a novel, with a story and with a character. I’ve just finished Lisa Lang’s Utopian Man (published by Allen and Unwin 2010). I have written previously about attending her launch and my excitement about reading the book. I had read Lang’s Chasing the Rainbow, a brilliant little book published by Arcade publishing. When I saw that Utopian Man had won the Australian/Vogel award I locked the launch in my diary and made sure I was there.

I have finally had a chance to read the novel and I think it’s wonderful. I feel like shouting the story of Edward Cole from the rooftops of Bourke Street and forcing people to listen. I feel like setting up a memorial day and forcing people to celebrate the magic of what was Cole’s Book Arcade. When I think of the hoards that loaf through Bourke Street during the Christmas period I feel like shouting “what if it could feel like Christmas every day but without the religious sentiment and the brash commercialism, without the guilt of necessity of purchase. This is what we once had in Melbourne, right here, but no one seems to remember.” Perhaps that is what I loved about this book, it has inspired me to love, to feel nostalgic, to feel anger, it’s inspired me to feel. Continue reading →

More than football – Melbourne’s History

This week I went to the book launch of Lisa Lang’s Utopian Man. It is a fictional re-imagining of the life of E.W. Cole, the creator of the wonderful Cole’s Book Arcade. The arcade began as a small second-hand book stall in the Eastern Market in 1865 and eventually became an Arcade from Bourke Street through to Collins Street, closing in 1931. Within that time the arcade included its own press, which produced the famous Cole’s Funny Picture Books, its own set of coins, a cage of monkeys and a Chinese tea salon to name just a few of wild and wonderful things. Continue reading →