‘I was confined, locked into my library, tracing my heartbeats from way, way back.’
In Telltale, Carmel Bird seizes on the enforced isolation of the pandemic to re-read a rich dispensary of books from her past. A rule she sets herself is that she can consult only the books in her house, even if some, such as the much-loved Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey, appear to be stubbornly elusive. Her library is comprehensive, and each book chosen – or that cannot be refused – enables an opening, a connection to people, time, place, myth, image, and the experience of a writing life. From her father’s bomb shelter to her mother’s raspberry jam, from a lost Georgian public library with ‘narrow little streets of books’ to the memory of crossing by bridge the turbulent waters of the Tamar River, to a revelatory picnic at Tasmania’s Cataract Gorge in 1945, this is the most intimate of memoirs.
It is one that never shies from the horrors of world history, the treatment of First Nations People, or the literary misrepresentations of the past.
Original, lyrical, and hugely enjoyable, Telltale, with its finely wrought insight and artful storytelling, is destined to delight.
‘A book about books that dreams you through a library of life.’
‘I have so loved this book! It walks us through the encounters of a lifetime, always with a delightful eye for strange connections and elusive memories. It is testimony to a life of great intellectual generosity and human compassion. It is irresistible.’