19 March, 2010


Actually, I'm in Christchurch now, but here's a blog entry I wrote up a few days ago and haven't had a chance to put up: Woke up this morning and looked out at the view, which was unimpressive last night, all grey horizon.

Overnight a mountain range had sprung up across half the view, and there was a tiny sprinkling of snow on the topmost peak. And then (so unexpectedly! :) ) the sun came up and turned the mountains from silhouettes to solid crags.

We drove across the South Island today, and it was good, but probably not very interesting to hear about, so I thought I’d just give you assorted bits and pieces. The first three are from the Winter 2009 issue of Booknotes, which Unity Books were giving away free at the festival.

Here’s our own Laura Kroetsch, mobile-phoner extraordinaire for Writers and Readers Week, having a whinge:
I’m tired of domestic fiction, all that talking, sulking, fucking, scheming, cooking and entertaining troubled couples that keeps the middle classes busily decoding the mysteries of their surprisingly leisure-rich lives. I’m tired of reading about people who never seem to have jobs, or if they do, they are the kind of jobs that don’t seem to require much work or any time spent at a workplace. I can’t but notice that often these characters are some incarnation of a writer—journalist, novelist and, increasingly, food writer. They can also be former professionals, people who were careful to plan for the day they would simply down tools and begin coping with life’s pitfalls—be they dead children, difficult mamas or indifferent spouses

I’m tired of family dramas, of the sadness provoked by low-level madness and infidelity. I don’t really care if the marriage works, if the kids are happy, if college is bitchy and old age a drag. Don’t we already know this story, haven’t we told it enough yet, or possibly better?
Here’s Noel Murphy of the NZ Book Council, reminiscing:
In the summer of 1989 I worked as an operating-theatre porter. I wheeled patients back and forth between theatre and ward. I mopped up blood afterwards. For the rest of the time I sat on a stool at a desk reading books, all of Thomas Hardy in fact, one after another. They were beautiful, they were bleak, they were hopelessly romantic and I loved them all.
Then Paul Cleave, thinking about similar things but without the Hardy:
I’d been writing for a couple of years when I saw my first dead body. I got a pretty good look at it before the police came and turned the area into a crime scene, and I can tell you first hand it was nothing like any crime show I watch. I got to see how much a dead guy sags in the middle of a stretcher when he’s being carried, I got to see what a mess the police leave behind once the scene has been cleared, and it was an insight you don’t get in books or on TV.
Fellow having a smoke and a coffee outside the Why Not Café in Kaikoura this morning: Morning. how are you?
Steven: Pretty good. How are you?
Man: Pretty good. Flat out. (laughs)
Steven: Yeah, I think you need to slow down a bit.

Fridge magnet (?) in Kaikoura gift shop: ‘When you love someone, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you’ —Karen, aged 6

New World Supermarkets all have a sign in the carpark: ‘Trundler park; Thank you for returning your Trundler.’

Waiau, a roadside stop with a stile over the fence so you can go down to the river and feel how cold the water is - not very cold.

All the rivers here are wide-bedded and rocky, with a tiny stream running down the middle.

Cows overhead on the steep hills, higher than the birds of prey.

Hanmer Springs thermal pools - all kinds of bodies. Low key, restful. High, high hills poking up around, thin flourishes of ice-cloud above.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

are you going to go dunedin? dunedin is the best NZ city by a long way. I grew up in Wellington but lived in Dunedin for a while. it is so cool and i pine for it. if you go to Dunedin you should: go to circadian rhythm cafe and eat lots of cheap curry, go to long beach and play in the caves, walk around at night, shop at all the lovely second hand bookshops, go to a show at none gallery. you will love it. p.s i think your books are very good.

19 March, 2010 07:23  
Anonymous Helen said...

Just been in Motueka for a while - lovely area - and passed through the areas you mentioned. The aqua blueness of the rivers was wonderful to see compared to Australia, though I noticed up in the Tasman you have the tea-brown water similar to Australia. The South Island is SO beautiful. Hanging out to go back there.

22 March, 2010 13:48  

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