Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: For the (broken) record

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  • Raymond A Francis,

    We have a winnerfor word/phrase of the year

    A "lunch crowd"

    Speaking of which.....

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 520 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    when there are so many other great options out there.

    Those links illustrate my beef with NZ fiction, of which Witi Ihimaera is part - everything is nostalgia, mysticism or nostalgic mysticism.

    To my knowledge (and *please* let me know otherwise) Craig Marriner is the only NZ author who writes on contemporary themes with characters who live in a world I recognise.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4209 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I just want to say: You did a good thing, Jolisa.

    Ihimaera knows this. Don't beat yourself up.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8008 posts Report Reply

  • GemmaG,

    You deserve a nice cuppa tea and a lie down, I reckon.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Heh, thanks sis. In a bed of petunias. </threadmerge>

    And thanks, Ben - kind of you to say so.

    Yes, Raymond. Lunch mob: we need more of them.

    Rich, you need to read more Chad Taylor, but then everyone needs to read more Chad Taylor. I also think Paula Morris would be right up your alley.

    Perhaps we can help you out with a few more suggestions in the GOOD books thread, coming to a Public Address near you... right after I have a cuppa tea and a lie down.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1408 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    Those links illustrate my beef with NZ fiction, of which Witi Ihimaera is part - everything is nostalgia, mysticism or nostalgic mysticism.

    Yes, including such nostalgic mysticists as Maurice Gee, Charlotte Grimshaw, Owen Marshall, Emily Perkins, Carl Nixon and Damien Wilkins. All writing on "contemporary themes with characters who live in a world I recognise".

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 638 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    She also noted that Penguin had forbidden the Listener to quote any further from the novel.

    They can't actually do that, right? Fair use for review and all.

    And even if they could, the spectacle of them taking an action against someone for stealing words would be hilarious.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1091 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Older(as in dead) writers - Maurice Shadbolt and Frank Sargeson for examples - really specialised in that nostalgic mysticism eh?

    In fact, Rich of O, that's one the silliest summations of of NZ lit I've ever read. For all his flaws, Allan Duff doesnt do nostalgic mysticism, and Patricia Grace has written extremely realistic short stories - not to mention the occaisional novel that - while you may consider parts 'mystical'- is actually very much part of everyday life in a world a lot of Maori recognise.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Oh and to be shameless on various levels my my recent column contains:

    Go see some glaciers, before they melt. Stupid glaciers! Don’t they know they’re being played?

    The last part of which I'm sure I pretty much read somewhere, but I can't find any source. (That much acknowledged in the comments, which are, admittedly, hardish to find from Scoop.)

    Your,
    Conflicted, Thorndon.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1091 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    Those links illustrate my beef with NZ fiction, of which Witi Ihimaera is part - everything is nostalgia, mysticism or nostalgic mysticism.

    That's funny, 'cos I though the thing wrong with recent New Zild literature was that it was all written by 20-something-year-old BA chicks about 20-something-year-old BA chicks. Often musing about Big Themes while abroad. Which is why we all latched onto the one about the Gay Angel in France.
    I believe Bill Manhire now casts an eye over each fresh intake of young gels and tells them "Write about what you don't know".

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 193 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    That's funny, 'cos I though the thing wrong with recent New Zild literature was that it was all written by 20-something-year-old BA chicks

    So basically the same problem we apparently have with journalism, then?

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    That's funny, 'cos I though the thing wrong with recent New Zild literature was that it was all written by 20-something-year-old BA chicks about 20-something-year-old BA chicks. Often musing about Big Themes while abroad. Which is why we all latched onto the one about the Gay Angel in France.
    I believe Bill Manhire now casts an eye over each fresh intake of young gels and tells them "Write about what you don't know".

    You forgot to include the bit about how contemporary NZ fiction is really just a conspiracy between Bill Manhire and Victoria University Press.

    Anyway, I don't think Elizabeth Knox was a "20-something-year-old BA chick" when she wrote The Vintner's Luck. I would have thought that a Wellington writer coming up with a story about a peasant winemaker and a fallen angel in 19th century Burgundy would be as good an example of writing about what you don't know as you could get. Unless she has a time machine.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 638 posts Report Reply

  • Eddie Clark,

    Those links illustrate my beef with NZ fiction, of which Witi Ihimaera is part - everything is nostalgia, mysticism or nostalgic mysticism.

    Really? That's what I like about NZ literature. And non-mimetic fiction is (critically, at least) treated with relative disdain in New Zealand. If its not depressing as all hell and prefereably containing some icky relationship it seems hard to get a decent review. Elisabeth Knox is one of our few cultural figures who as far as I can tell always reviews better overseas, because she doesn't conform to that paradigm.

    Then again, I still prefer Maurice Gee's kids stuff to his adult stuff, which indicates a certain perspective...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 270 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Gracewood,

    On PA System, more than any other website, I carefully pick my words and phrases when writing comments. The calibre of the participants, let alone the writers themselves, is daunting.

    So please understand my utter sincerity when I say:

    Holy Fucking Shit that was a Good Post.

    Orkland • Since Nov 2006 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Holy Fucking Shit that was a Good Post.

    Well referenced I thought.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Then again, I still prefer Maurice Gee's kids stuff to his adult stuff, which indicates a certain perspective...

    That's because Maurice Gee's YA work is awesome. And the "mystical" stuff (e.g. Halfmen of O, Under the Mountain) is the best of it.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    That's because Maurice Gee's YA work is awesome. And the "mystical" stuff (e.g. Halfmen of O, Under the Mountain) is the best of it.

    It's the nostalgia, the mysticism, the non-mimeticism that I love the most. I like to suspend my disbelief. It gives it a rest for a bit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8008 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Conflicted of Thorndon,

    I believe the phrase "stupid glacier" was first used by Greg Pollowitz in his National Review blog, Planet Gore. I am rather ashamed to admit knowing this fact.

    Yours ever,

    your fact-checking cuz.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Jess S,

    I loved 'The 10pm Question' by Kate de Goldi- my favourite book of the year. 'The Angel's Cut' on the other hand, I thought was dreadful, a pity because I remember loving 'The Vintner's Luck' when I read it a few years ago.... It just didn't need a sequel.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2009 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Fergus Barrowman,

    That's a terrific essay, Jolisa. Insight, wisdom, good jokes, a stirring conclusion.

    On a passing note, I liked your recognition that Google Books is every honest writer's friend, and a plagiarist's nightmare.

    Fergus

    PS: I think "wracked our brains" should be "racked our brains".

    Wellington • Since Nov 2009 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    I loved 'The 10pm Question' by Kate de Goldi - my favourite book of the year.

    Seconded. It cut to the core of so many aspects of 'New Zilland', IMhO.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    I am old enough to remember the times when novelists wrote about the present day. Nowadays, only the past will do. Yet none of these novels set in 19th Century come close to real 19th Century literature.

    It is no wonder that the Prof stole so much, because writing oneself into the past is near-impossible. The author was not there, does not share the feelings of those who were and - most importantly - unlike them knows how things turned out in the end.

    In the next decade, it would be nice to read fiction that faces up to the present.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Jess S,

    'Novel about my wife' is another fantastic recent NZ novel set in contemporary times

    Wellington • Since Dec 2009 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    I also read Maurice Shadbolt's Season of the Jew, and I really don't want to start anything, but in conjunction with seeing Vincent Ward's Rain of the Children, this was one of the more significant New Zealand books I've read.

    Possibly they struck a chord because they are both about the area I grew up in. Not at all sure what the 'popular opinion' is on Maurice Shadbolt, but it spoke volumes to me, and hopefully was 'authentic'.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    PS: I think "wracked our brains" should be "racked our brains"

    Well spotted. Not sure how that one slipped through. As you know, I am a stickler :-) I've fixed it. There I go again, editing Penguin for free...

    I loved The 10pm Question too, although I agree with the reviewer who said it was more for parents of sensitive pre-teens (or people who remember being sensitive pre-teens) than for the actual pre-teens themselves.

    And on the question of 20-something-year-old BA chicks, I think it was Fay Weldon who said she'd happily never read another first novel about "how I bonked my flatmate" ever again.

    I remember thinking at the time, surely she means " that I bonked my flatmate"? Because (not to tread on Emma's turf or anything) " how I bonked my flatmate" could actually be an excellent premise for a certain kind of book, if you were able to keep it up for 200 pp.

    Not that there's anything wrong with "I bonked my flatmate" literature. Emily Perkins' Not Her Real Name (great title) was a decent example of the genre, albeit short stories rather than a novel, and I really liked it at the time.

    And Eleanor Catton puts the boot into any clichés about 20-something BA chicks. She could write a book of shopping lists and I'd buy it, just to see how she'd done it.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1408 posts Report Reply

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