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Murdoch Books

The cookery sections of bookshops are crammed with bright new titles, but how necessary are they? Inevitably, they are repetitive – how many ways are there to boil an egg, make stock, prepare a vinaigrette? – and presentation is often privileged over content. In such a crowded market, awash with flashy covers, glossy photography, and populist titles acclaiming the latest celebrity chef, or niche cuisine, how can we sort out the cream from the whey? How can we be confident that books will edify or endure? Gratifyingly, some publishers are reprinting older works, providing a balance between the new and inventive, the tried and trusted.

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‘A large part of the beauty of a picture,’ Matisse famously decreed, ‘arises from the struggle which an artist wages with his limited medium.’ Struggle is the dominant motif in Murray Bail’s study of Scottish-born painter Ian Fairweather, first essayed in 1981, now refashioned, updated, and handsomely repackaged.

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