The last session I went to at the Festival was one where the star blogger of Christchurch City Libraries, was on a panel with New Zealand novelist Rachael King and American novelist Mark Sarvas, known for his literary blog, The Elegant Variation.
In the chair was Guy Somerset and he was excellent in getting the goods from the three bloggers. I thought Donna was excellent and a credit to our library for the way she described how the library started a blog, how it grew, what worked and how our blog had gradually built up a reputation. Rachael King’s blog is more literary and is not about book reviews but more on what she is reading and writing and ruminations on this. Apparently she gets a number of other Kiwi writers adding their voice to the blog, including Keri Hulme (now come on Keri, stop blogging and get that “Bait” novel out there to your public!)
Mark Sarvas may live in California but he reminded me of a New Yorker in that once he got the floor he wouldn’t let up. He was as much a motormouth as Mark Billingham but not as funny. He tended to dominate the session and though I’m sure a lot of the audience liked him I wondered if our good old cultural cringe means we think that anyone who comes here from the Northern Hemisphere must automatically know more about anything than we do. I wondered – even though it’s none of my business – how he can put so much time and energy into a blog that has no commercial sponsorship. Someone afterwards suggested private income and if that’s the case good luck to him (he said with peevish envy).
Also there, in the front row, was Graham Beattie whose blog is one of the best known in New Zealand and a blog that you could use as your one and only (other than the CCL blog of course). He said a few words and was as generous and unassuming as ever. So, with the two Kiwis on the panel and Mr Beattie in the audience, it was obvious to me that we can do it as well as anyone in the world.
And as this is my last blog from the Festival, I have to say it was great fun and my initial reaction on Friday (that it didn’t have the pizazz of the Auckland Festival) was knocked on the head in the weekend as the readers and writers came out in droves and there was a real buzz about the place.
Sorry I haven’t the time to go through some of the funnier moments but perhaps a later blog could go into such moments as Mark Billingham and the nipples in the bath scene from his latest book where he singled out a woman in the audience (one of our very own bloggers no less) who was doing a facial “Whaaaaaaaaaat?!” at some faulty research on his part
Philip (now back and knowing his place in downtown Sydenham)
Mark Sarvas is a New Yorker.