White Truffles in Winter
N.M. Kelby
Alma, A$27.99

Gastronomy writing is like erotica: it excites the appetite. The two here meet in a love story about the great chef Auguste Escoffier. In this novel, he has three passions: food, Sarah Bernhardt and his wife, poet Delphine Daffis. Kelby shows a man of his time, but ahead of it too. He revolutionised dining and respected his women's independence. The book is sumptuous and sensual in its detail. A feast, perhaps lacking salt.

Coorparoo Blues and the Irish Fandango
G.S. Manson
Dark Passage,A $22.95

The publisher is American but the author is Australian. This debut PI novel belongs to the genre of noir historical. It is also very Queensland. Down the mean streets of World War II Brisbane walks Jack Munro. He is a former serviceman and a former cop, and he has issues galore. The best of these two novellas sees him investigate the rumoured murder of black GIs by their own side. Rough and gritty, but also vital.
David Fitzpatrick
William Morrow, A$29.99

Sharp is about self-mutilation. Fitzpatrick had a family tendency to depressive illness. Added to this was a history of bullying - by his (conveniently forgetful) brother and dorm mates - as well as drug use. He descended into poisonous self-absorption, in which razor cuts became addictive. The habit almost killed him and sent him to mental hospitals. His story is horrific, almost too grim to read. Yet he was healed.



The Right Stuff Tom Wolfe
Wolfe didn't glamorise the Project Mercury astronauts; he gave us a truthful look at the flawed, morally ambiguous fighter jocks on America's front line in the space race. The way he describes those 1960s pilots — encapsulated by the rugged charm of Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier — is the finest I've read. Wolfe also made the world aware of many wonderful pilot terms, from "push the envelope" and "apex of the pyramid" to "the right stuff".

Steve Worland is a Sydney screenwriter. His debut novel, Velocity, is a thriller about an astronaut who must save a space shuttle hijacked by terrorists.