Saturday, December 18, 2010

Acres Australia Review

This is a review by Wendy O'Hanlon in "Acres Australia" (Qld).

This is a fictional journey into madness. Beginning in Melbourne in the 1960's, Nicholas Walpole is a fairly typical seven-year-old who dreams of being a rock star, sings into a hairbrush and cranks up the family's record player whenever he gets the chance.
He discovers David Bowie and the weird world of Ziggy Stardust at the age of 12.
Walpole becomes a fairly typical teenager and young adult. He dabbles in an art and design course but drops out. He tries a teaching degree but drops out. He lives with mates in an inner-city flat above "cool" Lygon Street, discovers drugs, forms a band and has a number of romances.
His story is set against a backdrop of an era which many of us remember well - the bands of the 70s and 80s, Countdown, Australasia Post magazine, Australia's famous America's Cup win - and dreams of a starry future. It was a buzzy time - especially in the bigger cities such as Melbourne.
But Walpole never quite moves on or grows up. His friends drift away, get jobs, get married. Meanwhile Walpole is chasing two dreams - to be a cartoonist and to be a rockstar.
This book would be a trip down memory lane for many readers who were born in the 60s. We had big dreams, we had the freedom as young adults to share new experiences,meet new people,walk in new circles. Of course we did lose some friends along the way. They just drifted in a kind-of time warp. But most of us grew up into fairly typical adults with marriages and mortgages. This is a well-written account of a typical kid who missed the rocket to fame and became a "falling star".

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oz Writers Rock

Kelly McLean  runs a website called designed to promote local authors, as the name suggests. She recently wrote this about "Catch a Falling Star":
A great novel. A powerfully depictive novel which draws you into '80's Australian garage band days, David Bowie and pop-culture. The novel cleverly takes you on a journey with Nicky Nova (aka Nicholas Walpole) on his journey from Bowie-obsessed youngster through garage band days and beyond. Peter's depiction of Melbourne in the '80's is masterful, and you are drawn along a very personal journey. It almost reads like a memoir. Very well written, a really enjoyable work which is going to hold its place on my shelf of Australian favourites.

You can read Kelly's reviews of this and other Oz books at the above address 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Melbourne Times Review

This is a 3-Star Review of "Catch a Falling Star" from Mara King in The Melbourne Times:

By day, Nicholas Walpole is a drop-out student getting by on the dole, odd jobs and pretending to be dead at his local university. By night, he dreams of musical superstardom and parallels his life with that of his idol, David Bowie. The only problem is, Bowie has musical talent and determination and Nicholas, aka Nicky Nova, is sadly lacking in both."Catch a Falling Star" follows Nicky Nova from the leafy outer suburbs of Melbourne to Lygon Street, Carlton, in the early 1980's. He and his band, The Warm Jets, just don't seem to be able to make it beyond the backyard of the ramshackle house they share, which could be due to their terrible set or the prodigious amount of weed they smoke. As the decade wears on, Nicky's friends are moving on with life but he can't give up his dream of making it big. Nicky's adventures are sometimes funny and sometimes pathetic. The drug use permeating most scenes is a tad excessive, but then, the '80's were all about excess. Paying homage to share-housing classic "He Died With a Falafel In His Hand", "Catch a Falling Star" adds music and captures the mood of big-haired '80's Melbourne in the process. Part musical history and part coming-of-age tale, this is an easy, enjoyable read.   

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ziggy - The Songs Of David Bowie

Last Thursday night, I headed down to The Palais Theatre in St. Kilda to see Jeff Duff and his band perform a blistering three hour tribute to the unsurpassed rock'n'roll genius of David Bowie. Duffy hit the stage in golden platform boots, and a silvery white jumpsuit adorned with angel wings, and launched into the anthemic Starman.
From there the hits just kept on coming as Jeff and guest vocalists Iota, Brydon Stace and Steve Balbi belted out the likes of Fame, Changes, The Jean Genie, Space Oddity, Under Pressure and Let's Dance.
But in many ways it was the inclusion of lesser known songs like Loving the Alien and Lady Stardust that were the real nuggets for the hardcore Bowiephile.
Among the many highlights of the 26 song set (these boys really earnt their money) were Iota's  impressive vocal gymnastics at the close of The Man Who Sold The World, and the yearning, sweeping melodies of Life On Mars and Absolute Beginners.  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Out To Launch

Next Friday night I'll be returning to the scene of the crime to launch "Catch a Falling Star" at Readings Bookshop in Lygon Street Carlton.  Come and re-live the era that gave us shoulder pads, "Choose Life" t-shirts and flocks of seagulls. Everybody welcome.

Date: Friday, 19th November 6:15pm
Venue: Readings, 309 Lygon Street Carlton

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Nicky Nova is a Bowie-obsessed young man growing up in Melbourne in the early 1980's.
Nicky moves into a big, ramshackle share house in Lygon Street, Carlton, with a bunch of musician friends.
He forms a band and dreams of becoming a world famous rock'n'roll star.
But is the band as hell-bent on fame and fortune as their singer? Loaded with pop culture references,
"Catch a Falling Star" is part cautionary tale, part travelogue of a recent bygone era of skinny ties, leg-warmers and big hair.
This is a post-punk story about friendship and betrayal, the impossible dreams of youth, and the compromises we must make in order to survive. If you've ever put together a garage band and dreamed of bigger things; if you've lived through the bohemian grunge and fractious ego mix of the inner-suburban share house experience; if you have fond memories of the heady excesses of the '80's, you will love "Catch a Falling Star".

Published by Sid Harta
ISBN: 1-921642-38-6
RRP: $24.95 AUD.