Novelist Nick Gadd remembers his wife Lynne through their many walks through inner city Melbourne.
Nick Gadd and his wife, Lynne, spent two years circling Melbourne's inner-city suburbs. “Psychojogging”, they called it, walking and exploring, theorising and researching the many odd and uncanny places they visited. When Nick's wife died from cancer, he decided to write up their expeditions as a way of dealing with his grief. Throughout the book an intimate portrait of Lynne is built up through remembered conversations and shared experiences.
In many ways, Melbourne Circle is a quirky and enchanting history of inner Melbourne, from the working class suburbs of Yarraville and Footscray, to the glamour of South Yarra's 1930's outre apartments, as designed by architect Howard Lawson. Many will be surprised to read about Maribrynong's once bustling bomb factory, the Yarraville retirement flats built on toxic waste that sank and that masterpiece of modern architecture, the ETA Peanut Butter Factory in Braybrook (its design was internationally recognised.)
For those who like to absorb their history on the streets – pondering the life of former arcades and post offices, piecing together “ghost signs” faded on old brick walls and staring in wonder at our architectural curios – there is much to delight in Melbourne Circle.
Melbourne Circle: Walking, Memory and Loss, by Nick Gadd. Published by Australian Scholarly Publishing. $29.99
Review by Chris Saliba
North Melbourne Books