Sophie Cunningham writes a year in the citys life, a year that takes us from the heatwave that culminated on Black Saturday when temperatures soared to 47 degrees to the destructive deluge of a hailstorm. She walks through Melbournes oldest suburb to its largest market, she goes to the footy and to the comedy festival, she talks publishing and learns how to use a letterpress. Along the way she journeys deep into her own recollections of the city she grew up in, and tells stories from its history: the theft of Picassos Weeping Woman, the Hoddle Street massacre, William Baraks trek from Healesville, the Westgate Bridge Disaster, the high drama of the 1970 and 2009 AFL grand finals and the Market Murders of the sixties. She strolls by Melbournes rivers and creeks while considering the history of the wetlands and river that sit at Melbournes heart. She clambers through the drains that lie beneath. For it is water the corralling of it, the excess of it, the squandering of it, the lack of it that defi nes Melbournes history, its present and its future.
I thoroughly enjoyed Sophie Cunningham's Melbourne, particularly because I have recently moved to Melbourne. I finished it just before arriving at Southern Cross station from Preston; I felt like I had fallen into the book I had just read. Its warm, wry tone stayed with me as I went on to take in the sights and smells of Melbourne City with a freshly appreciative eye.
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