Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: For the (broken) record

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  • Paul Litterick,

    Me Sir, me Sir!

    I read The Good Soldier a few weeks back. It takes place in the nine years before the Great War, and has very little to do with soldiering. Mostly, it is about adultery.

    It is a great novel, and all in the author's own words.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    yeah, but it is actually permeated by the Great War- (not least because of when it was written)-

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

  • Fergus Barrowman,

    FMF explains the relationship of his book and its title to the Great War here: http://www.ibiblio.org/eldritch/fmf/gsdl.htm

    Wellington • Since Nov 2009 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Impressive post, Jolisa. Thanks. And good to see you've attracted authors and partners/publishers to join the conversation.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Hell is actually a hugeeverybookfoundeverywhere library with an irreliable index and an enormous shifting stack. The librarians grin insanely and do not answer in any language you know. They frequently talk at your enquiries, and laugh when you cry. Any book you take out has all it's pages glued shut, and once inside the -building? habitat?The place where =once in/never out =and a cloud of voices and any paper puffs away -as you do, clinging onto nasty greyish dimininshing distance-

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

  • Jolisa,

    LUQ: If the New Zealand division of the largest publishing groups on Earth can't -- or won't -- invest time, money and care in basic editing of (arguably) it's highest profile author, are there other plagiarists on the Penguin list? And if there are, does anyone at Penguin give a shit?

    Actually, Craig, that reminds me of another of my own, a variant on yours: if this is the best editing that Penguin NZ's highest profile author gets, then what can the fresh young thing who submits their great but slightly imperfect manuscript expect in the way of editorial guidance?

    All writing creatures, great and small, need editing. (Thanks to Fergus, TheMorgan, and Sacha - so far - for tidying up parts of my post!).

    I haven't read The Devil's Cut, but for me Hell = the absence of a library, or indeed, of any reading matter whatsoever. I would go mad pretty quickly. Or finally get around to writing something, I suppose, assuming they had writing implements and fire-proof paper.

    Rachael: She said what? Two babies and two published novels strikes me as amazingly productive for anyone who's still got a 3 on the front of their birthday card ( and a rock'n'roll past under their belt).

    BenW: you,me and the Colonel are in good company. (Indeed, by comparison to most on that page, Rachael and islander are infant prodigies).

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Actually, I strongly disagree with you Jolisa: editors - for me- (because I've never had an authorial relationship with one) are a nothingness.

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

  • Jolisa,

    Jess: ditto on Truly, Madly, Deeply. It's a great film, even if I have a bit of a Frank Spencer moment when the new boyfriend starts hopping. (And I wish they hadn't added in the extraneous instruments when Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson sing Sun Ain't Gonna Shine, just cos it breaks the illusion a bit).

    And Cecelia, me too. Interesting that for both IHimaera and Grace, the stories are (for the most part) traditionally "realist," but the novels are where the spirit dimension kicks in. I loved Baby No-Eyes_ and Dogside Story. But I know a few people who were forced to read Potiki at school and still shudder.

    Hmm, perhaps that's true of any novel you're forced to read at school? Then again, maybe not: I bonded fiercely with all my obligatory school reading, and those novels and plays and poems still have a palpable aura for me. They practically glow on the shelves or on the page. Perhaps because it was the first time I could see that it was possible to enlarge and prolong the charge that I got from reading alone, by returning to the text after talking about it with others...

    And of course by "others" I mean the teacher. I was That Kid.

    (But weren't we all? All of us in this room, I mean?)

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Not quite, Jolisa.
    I was the kid who found the books i read wanting.
    I was the kid who rewrote some stories.
    I was the kid who learned to hate the commercial structure of having my stories printed and sold.
    And I am the adult looking for another way of promulgating all my other work to date-

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

  • Craig Ranapia,

    BenW: you,me and the Colonel are in good company. (Indeed, by comparison to most on that page, Rachael and islander are infant prodigies).

    I'm pretty glad Fergus (and Bill Manhire) didn't tell Barbara Anderson to take her zimmer frame and never darken the door of the VUP again. My partner is starting a new job today, at the age of sixty four -- only a year older than Dame Barbara was when I Think We Should Go Into the Jungle first saw print.

    I've just been going through some of my favourite authors, and they seem to tend towards the late blooms:

    Anita Brookner (b. 1928): A Start in Life (1981 - 52)
    Alice Thomas Ellis (b. 1932): The Sin Eater (1977 - 45)
    P.D. James (b. 1920): Cover Her Face (1962 - 42)
    Edith Wharton (b. 1862): The Touchstone (1900 - 38)
    Jane Austen (b. 1775): Sense and Sensibility (1811 - 36)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Books of the year.

    It's a bit difficult to be too pedantic about the publishing date (well I'm not the rule maker, but I found it difficult), so can we be a bit vague on that?

    Tim Winton Breath. A book that made me want to know more about 'The Australian Psyche', which was an uncomfortable place.
    Wally Lamb The Hour I First Believed. Heavy, but illuminating.
    Iain Pears Stone's Fall. When he writes this type of novel, he is one of the cleverest buggers writing today, IMhO.
    Kate Degoldi The 10PM Question. As covered earlier.

    The Library is in disarray, and books get borrowed, which I have to say is not something I'm very good at. I'm prone to say things like 'this book is not for borrowing' when I feel particularly attached to them. So more might follow.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Hmm, perhaps that's true of any novel you're forced to read at school? Then again, maybe not: I bonded fiercely with all my obligatory school reading, and those novels and plays and poems still have a palpable aura for me.

    I don't go back to books I studied at school, because I'd practically memorised them by the time we were through, but I do remember learning to love even the ones I didn't like on first read, because deconstructing the characters and language and plot gave them meaning they hadn't had before. (All except Catcher in the Rye, which I still loathe in an unadulterated fashion.)

    Which is a long way of saying: I was that kid, too, the one who borrowed books off the teacher. Of course, I also had the Internet to discuss the books I was reading for fun, which probably changed the paradigm a little.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Actually, Craig, that reminds me of another of my own, a variant on yours: if this is the best editing that Penguin NZ's highest profile author gets, then what can the fresh young thing who submits their great but slightly imperfect manuscript expect in the way of editorial guidance?

    If, ninth time the charm, the novel I'm currently working on turns out to be fit for anything other than the bottom drawer of my desk then I won't be submitting it to Penguin. I'm certainly giving Prenguin titles a miss this Christmas season, and I spend a LOT of money on books for presents.

    Here's another LUQ that's been nagging me about Penguin and Auckland University's role in this squalid affair: Do their view Ihimaera as someone who is accountable to literary and academic standards of conduct, or is he just another profitable "brand" squirting out "product" (or useful to attract fee-paying "clients") that must be swaddled in damage control and perception management at all costs?

    If Penguin and Auckland University don't really give a shit about intellectual property and basic literary hygiene, I say to hell with the both of them.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Jake Pollock,

    (All except Catcher in the Rye, which I still loathe in an unadulterated fashion.)

    In that case, you should read King Dork, which is, in part, about how much the main character hates The Catcher in the Rye. It's a very well observed take on the role of that book in high school English classes/

    Raumati South • Since Nov 2006 • 489 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    My books of the year?

    Locas II: Maggie, Hopey & Ray by Jamie Hernandez and Luba by Gilbert Hernandez (both Fantagraphics Books, hardcover).

    With these two beautifully produced hardcovers, Fantagraphics continues to keep one of the great comic books (and one of the few in an infamously white male industry to centre around complex and well-realised Hispanic women) in print.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    And of course by "others" I mean the teacher. I was That Kid.
    (But weren't we all? All of us in this room, I mean?)

    You'll find out if you follow the example elsewhere: list 200 books that any self-respecting hipster should have read in 2009 and ask people to vote. And throw in a few fictitious titles to catch out the wannabes.

    Skipping straight to the screenplay now.

    Our backers just love ( love! ) your work, especially the small change you're about to make where the simple case of plagiarism is revealed as something far more sinister as our feisty-but-attractive heroine is joined by a pompous and aging but strangely irresistible Professor of Symbology...

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    Hmm, perhaps that's true of any novel you're forced to read at school? Then again, maybe not: I bonded fiercely with all my obligatory school reading, and those novels and plays and poems still have a palpable aura for me.

    The only thing I can remember reading and liking at high school was Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. I wish I still had my essay on the question, "How is Slaughterhouse Five a Tralfamodorian novel?" Other than that, my experience is that high school English can easily ruin literature -- esp. Shakespeare. The idea that spotty 16 and 17 year olds can have any real understanding of King Lear is ludicrous.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 656 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    (All except Catcher in the Rye, which I still loathe in an unadulterated fashion.)

    That's just cause it's shit, Lucy. Nowadays, I have teenagers of my own, so if I want to listen to someone go on and on about how everything so unfair and everybody's so lame and nobody recognises their unique snowflakeness... no. I'm never going to want to do that.

    My daughter's book of the year (came out last year but won this year's Hugo, so I'm saying it counts) would be Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, which she picked up and would not stop reading until she'd finished it. Really shouldn't have given it to her on a school night.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    The idea that spotty 16 and 17 year olds can have any real understanding of King Lear is ludicrous.

    Shakespeare for High Schools: Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Richard III, Othello, Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare Never for High Schools Under Any Circumstances: King Lear, Hamlet. Also, please note, they are PLAYS. They should be watched, not read.

    Now, I just have to go take my bonnet off and see if I can get rid of this damn bee...

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    My daughter's book of the year (came out last year but won this year's Hugo, so I'm saying it counts) would be Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book,

    It also won the Newbery Medal this year, winch is pretty big whoops in the field of kid-lit. What I love about the book is that it's free of that curse of contemporary childrens' book, "RELEVANT ISSUES" -- which just bring me out in hives.... I thought the castor oil and enema school of improving children through their reading matter had died with the Victorians, but apparently not.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Shakespeare for High Schools: Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Richard III, Othello, Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare Never for High Schools Under Any Circumstances: King Lear, Hamlet. Also, please note, they are PLAYS. They should be watched, not read.

    Romeo and Juliet: Most stupid story line ever. I can watch star-crossed lovers with more brains on "Rock of Love". English was wrecked for me as a result from form 4 onwards.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    Shakespeare for High Schools: Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Richard III, Othello, Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare Never for High Schools Under Any Circumstances: King Lear, Hamlet. Also, please note, they are PLAYS. They should be watched, not read.

    We had Macbeth in the sixth form, Lear in the seventh. The cool thing about Macbeth was we got to see the Polanski movie which is as gory as all hell and includes a nude scene -- how to make Shakespeare fun for 16-yr-old boys. As opposed to some droning eight-hour BBC version of Lear.

    Anyway, this was back in the 80s, before the internet, NCEA and Baz Luhrmann. Hopefully the teaching of Shakespeare has progressed beyond memorise a handful of key quotes and themes and regurgitate them in the exam.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 656 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Romeo and Juliet: Most stupid story line ever.

    You don't go to the movies much, then? :)

    We had Macbeth in the sixth form, Lear in the seventh. The cool thing about Macbeth was we got to see the Polanski movie which is as gory as all hell and includes a nude scene -- how to make Shakespeare fun for 16-yr-old boys. As opposed to some droning eight-hour BBC version of Lear.

    Well, did Lear in the 7th form too but we watched Kurosawa's Ran -- which is not only a bloody good film (and exposes Polanski for the pervy poseur he is) but, once the predictable grumbling about subtitles was out of the way, lead into a surprising lively and sophisticated discussion about how Lear worked when "translated" into a very different cultural and historical context. (Not only surprisingly well, IMO, but remarkably faithfully.) And if you didn't give a shit about all that, there was a more than satifying amount of violence.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    You don't go to the movies much, then? :)

    OK. 'Top' ten worst then.

    And the raving about the Dicaprio/Dane version? Adding a bit 'boys in the hood' lingo and guns doesn't change how crappy the basic premise is.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Ngaire BookieMonster,

    I was going to post a further blog about this last week after reading the NZ Listener, and then early this week after reading Peter Wells (excellent) blog, but it was hard to sum up exactly what I wanted to say - I agree with the "tawdry and depressing" sentiment.

    It *does* now feel tawdry and depressing and even more so because I feel that further discussion is being painted as mean-spirited, rather than what it is - just further discussion. I was pretty damn disappointed actually to read the "let it go Listener" post on Beattie's Book Blog and similar sentiments in other corners - why should it be "let go" when the book is still for sale? The calibre of answers and explanations given started off at "crap" and has not improved, excellently illustrated in this post. The whole affair has been a complete let-down and the fact that genuine commentators (as opposed to the more extreme nutter theories that can and should be easily ignored) are basically being told to sit down and be quiet just, well, sucks.

    And link much appreciated - I think the URL might be wrong though as the link seems to be not working?

    It's been great to be able to be involved in and to comment on this discussion.

    And I second your other options for the reading and buying public - particularly ANY Judith Binney. Love her work.

    Lastly, I am ever so slightly hungover, hence only being able to sum up my feelings with "sucks". ;)

    At the foot of Mt Te Aroh… • Since Nov 2009 • 174 posts Report Reply

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