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Wine & Book Group Pick for May '06

abstract:May's book selection introduces us to Australia's author-equivalent of Barbara Kingsolver—Carrie Tiffany is a former park ranger and agricultural journalist who combines her two passions in this stunning debut novel set in the '30s in the Australian countryside. Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living (Scribner May 2006) has just been shortlisted for the Orange Prize, and we can't wait to introduce you to this author and her country's fabulous wines when you join Bookbuffet's Wine & Book Club Come and learn about wines as you read, courtesy of our partners at!


May 19, 2006

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  • The Author

    Carrie Tiffany, now age 39, started writing fiction six years ago. Her first effort, a story about a boy bitten by a snake, won a competition organized by the Australian Book Review. Encouraged by this, she took the next four years to write Everyman, saying that ever since her first job as an Uluru park ranger, she has wanted to raise the awareness of people for the land they live on.

    Carrie was born in Yorkshire County, Australia, and grew up on the outskirts of Perth where she had the freedom to ride horses and play assistant to the local vet. She loved the countryside with "that noisy kind of bush with the cicadas continually thrumming in that headache way." When her parents divorced and her dad moved to Sydney, Carrie, her brother, and her mom remained.

    Destined to work and write about the countryside, she dropped out of her studies at the Western University of Australia to take a job as a park ranger in the the male-dominated National Park Service, which needed a woman to work with the Pitjanjara women. It was a life-altering experience, changing the five-foot, slight-framed Tiffany both mentally and physically.

    "I remember my first summer there, it got to 50 degrees. The vessels just dry out in your eyes and your nose. I'd be giving a tour around the rock and my nose would just start bleeding and bleeding and bleeding, in front of all these tourists. It took a while for my body to harden up to it, although I love that dry heat now."

    One of only three women rangers in the entire territory at the time, Tiffany said she always felt she had to prove herself. She's much hardier than her five-foot frame would suggest, and was shoulder-to-shoulder with her brawny bearded colleagues at the rock, rescuing climbers from Uluru's slopes, shooting feral donkeys, and hauling the garbage from the campsite's 44-gallon drums.

    "I couldn't lift the bag out of the drum, it was as big as me," says Tiffany. "I would kick the drum over and roll it around a bit, and heave the bag out of it and try and heave it into the back of the truck. The elders would sit there watching me, laughing their heads off, so they called me 'Tulko,' which means small warrior."

    She tells the story of the time she drove into the desert with a Mutitjulu elder to see if some of the scrublands were ready for controlled burnoffs.

    "I got out of the vehicle and had my equipment to test the spinifex to see if it needed burning or not. He got out bare foot, smoking a rollie, went for a walk, came back, gave me the thumbs up sign and threw the cigarette over his shoulder."

    It was, says Tiffany, an epiphany. "I was never going to understand this place like he does because he can feel it through the soles of his feet. All these years later, I'm researching an article about the Better Farming Train and I think 'this is somehow a vehicle for some of those ideas I thought about back then when I was a ranger.'"

    excerpt interview with Michelle Griffin, The Age

    About The Book

    Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living is the story of two idealists who meet on the state government's Better Farming Train as it chugs through the Victorian countryside in the 1930s.

    Taste These Wines

    Our partners at Women & Wine have come up with three exciting selections:

    • Woop Woop Shiraz, South West Australia: $10.99 "Blended in typical maverick Aussie style from several different growing regions; the result is upfront ripe-fruit flavor, with a thick dollop of concentrated blackberry and red currant jam, plus notes of licorice and smoke. The name “Woop Woop” is Australian slang for the middle of nowhere in the Outback, as in “just been to Woop Woop and back.”
    • Two Hands "Angel Share" Shiraz, McLaren Vale 2004: priced at $29.99 "Oozes flavors of sweet dark berries, with an almost Port-like ripeness, plus layers of espresso, licorice, and black pepper. FYI:  The ‘Two Hands’ represents the partnership between former wine exporter Michael Twelftree and former cooper Richard Mintz."
    • Kilakanoon Covenant Shiraz, Claire Valley 2003: $39.99 "Intense, inky, and crimson red in color, it boasts rich blackberry fruit and ripe plums, with touches of coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and mint. The integrated tannins provide a seamless flavor that lingers on the palate, with hints of menthol, sweet vanilla, and smoke."

    Previous Wine & Book Group Picks

    • April The Mermaid Chair set in South Carolina
    • March Memoirs of a Geisha set in Japan
    • February Get a Life set in South Africa
    • January The Shadow of the Wind set in Barcelona
    • December Pride and Prejudice set in England
    • November Beyond Measure set in Renaissance Italy
    • October Breakfast at Tiffany's set in New York




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