Derham Groves is a unique thinker and one might say that he himself is Out of the Ordinary. An extraordinary range of phenomena fascinates him, which he investigates with an unusual tenacity, skill and erudition. In each case these topics and issues at first glance deceptively diverse and unrelated is meticulously dissected, illustrated and described with clear, unpretentious and very readable prose, which puts much other so-called academic writing to shame. Consider just some of the things he covers, taken at random here from the contents page of his latest book, Out of the Ordinary: Deceptively mundane things such as bricks and brickwork; do-it-yourself letterboxes; and (who would even think of this?) junk e-mail or spam. Then there is television and its manifestations in the days of its introduction in Derham s home country, Australia; Disneyland and the feng-shui of Hong Kong Disneyland; the shop-houses of Vietnam and elsewhere; Sherlock Holmes and other crime fiction, one of Derham s longstanding interests; a little-known Australian architect and a better known one; and an eccentric naïve Australian painter, the late Pro Hart. But that is not all! Dr Groves has written elsewhere of the 1939 tour of Australia by Anna May Wong, the celebrated Chinese-American actress, and since the publication of his book about her in 2011, he has become intrigued by another tour Down Under by an American, William Boyd, a.k.a. Hopalong Cassidy, in 1954. Derham has also become interested in the crime novels of a little-known Australian writer, the late June Wright, whose crime novels were published in the 1940s through to the 1960s. He has also traced the overseas travels in North America of a group of young Australian men in 1959 using an old diary written by one of them. Where did he obtain the diary? On eBay would you believe it, just one of Derham s research tools and so like this most unusual person architect, academic and cultural historian. I cannot recommend this book more highly. Derham Groves many-facetted interests and the manner in which he so skilfully draws you into them will fascinate you. --Michael Jørgensen, architect, author and publisher
About the Author
Derham Groves is an architect, a cultural historian and a curator. He received his PhD in Art History in 1996 from the University of Minnesota and Joined the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne in 1999.