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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 10 (January 2, 1939)



“Collected Essays,” by Walter Murdoch (Angus & Robertson, Sydney), will be welcomed by hundreds of admirers of Australia's delightful essayist. For the last eight or nine years Professor Murdoch has been an assiduous writer of essays and they have been collected from time to time and published under titles familiar to many of us, “Speaking Personally,” “Saturday Mornings,” “Lucid Intervals,” etc. These volumes have had a splendid sale, so much so that Angus & Robertson conceived the ambitious idea of publishing an omnibus of them all. And for a literary holiday what more pleasant omnibus wherein to be a passenger. Some of the company is delightfully familiar—“The Bloke” (full of humour and engaging philosophy), “On Whiskers and Eternity” (incidentally a fine tribute to the genius of Jane Austen), and “On Reading In Bed” (which should really be called “On Reading Browne”). Then we met others who at first glance appear to be interesting strangers but whom, after a few words have been exchanged, are also old friends. Then there are some real strangers (because we may not have read and remembered all of Murdoch's 150 essays), and they are really excellent people to meet; all elegant, interesting folk—the people of the cultured mind of Professor Murdoch, Australia's notable man of letters. This is a substantial, splendidly produced volume of over 700 pages and it deserves, and I know it will receive, a grand reception.

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“Titans of the Barrier Reef” by Norman W. Caldwell (Angus & Robertson, Sydney) is a fine big volume of further adventures of a famous Australian shark fisherman. This writer first attracted wide attention with his “Fangs of the Sea.” His latest book is no desperate attempt to “bulk up” a new volume on the strength of the first success. It is quite interesting and in many ways as full of excitement as the first book. Mere mention of the Barrier Reef conjures up exciting pictures of mammoth fish, but with Norman Caldwell as guide we meet many of the top-liners. Also he shows himself not only a fine fisherman but a graphic writer. In the latter respect my only complaint is that his stories are almost too vivid. His account of a fight in the dark with a crocodile is almost exhausting in its realism. White sharks and black sharks, sharks that spit, giant gropers, huge eels and devil fish leer at you from every page. Yes—the book is as exciting as a super-detective thriller.

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“The Little Round Garden,” by Gladys Lister (Angus & Robertson, Sydney), should set the eyes and the feet of many a child dancing with pleasure. This little round garden with its little round house has in it all manner of delightful people. Of course, there are fairies, and one of their number is particularly interesting because he is a disguised fairy. There are Merle and Blueboy, a number of quaint animals and also the Little Mother and the Big Daddy. They all take part in wonderful adventures, enough to inspire Pixie O'Harris, who I know will never grow up, to illustrate the story with charming drawings.

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