Mirror Sydney: An Atlas of Reflections (Vanessa Berry, Giramondo)
Every city has its ghost lines, those mysterious details that underpin the contemporary physicality of a place, the memories that are faded but visible to anyone with a keen eye and a curiosity to reimagine the past. This engaging book follows the tracks of vanished and vanishing histories of Sydney, particularly in the ordinary and overlooked suburbs, celebrating the overlapping landscapes, appreciating the European elements, while also respectfully acknowledging the Indigenous connections. Vanessa Berry has been blogging about these histories since 2012. Here are some of her affectionate essays, accompanied by quirky hand-drawn maps, which add a certain charm to the book. Whether she is writing about the unloved Parramatta Road, following a neglected creek through the grimy suburbs, telling stories about her grandparents’ suburb, exploring the edges of the city sprawl or remembering the share houses she inhabited, Berry is taking a tour through nostalgia as much as place. Beautifully realised and sweetly written, this is a book any Sydneysider would enjoy for the recognition of place. It is also a fine book for any visitor who wants to see the details rather than the distractions.
Lindy Jones is a senior buyer and bookseller for Abbey’s Bookshop. She has lived half her life in Sydney