You are here: Home > Blogging

Bob Gould

I spoke in parliament yesterday about the passing of left-wing activist and Newtown bookseller Bob Gould.

Bob Gould, 30 May 2011

I rise to pay tribute to Newtown bookseller Bob Gould, who passed away on 22 May 2011 aged 74. Bob was part of the progressive left in Australia for the better part of the post-war era. From the Vietnam War to asylum seekers, he has marched and argued for what he believed in. As former New South Wales MLC Meredith Burgmann noted, ‘He was involved in most of the great political protest movements of the time.’

Bob did live through interesting times. He was one of three people who chased down and restrained the man who tried to kill Arthur Calwell after an anti-conscription rally in 1966. His bookstores were raided for stocking such scurrilous works as Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint and pictures of Michelangelo’s David.

Most students who attended the University of Sydney have a story about Gould’s Books. Mine came when I was walking down an aisle and brushed past two precarious stacks of books on either side. Both collapsed on me, trapping me for about five minutes, until Bob heard my cries for help and ambled over.

Although he was a Labor Party member Bob was probably to the left of everyone in the current federal parliament. Yet even my libertarian friend Sinclair Davidson has noted Bob’s passing, and recalled fondly his time buying books at Bob’s bookstore. Through his activism and his bookstore, Bob Gould injected ideas and energy into the public debate. He will be missed.

One Comment

  1. Stephen Mills says:

    My favourite Bob Gould anecdote was a couple of years ago, I walked into the shop and asked him, behind the counter, whereabout in the shop I could locate a certain book. Because the entire bookshop was a warren of aisles and shelves crammed with books with only the most approximate indexing system. Bob looked up from the counter and replied: ‘How the hell would I know?’