University of Queensland Press, 260 pp, $19.95 pb
The usher of the book’s title is T. Nelson Downs, long-time resident of Burleigh Heads. (The T. Doesn’t stand for anything; it was a parental whim.) He’s one of those wonderful, original, exasperating people full of impossible ideas (such as marketing gigantic ice sculptures for public occasions using skilled tradesmen brought out especially from Florence).
Amateur magician, collector of antiquities, botanist, visionary, T. Nelson is owner and head usher of a cinema he calls the Universe-Cine-by-the Sea. He has installed a galaxy of lightbulbs in the roof, and, to better understand the world, is showing progressively earlier films, even if this means screening Cutting Out Diseased Potatoes from the Warrnambool Herd on Christmas Eve.