Can you hear me Whangaparoa

Further on the signature dish front. It seems that Janet Frame was not content with being one of the twentieth century’s great novelists, she also had some specialities she whipped up for Charles Brasch when he came to visit. Cookies, hot date scones and fresh baked bread.

Anyway enough of the cooking obsession. 2009 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Charles Brasch and this session was made up of readings from the unpublished letters of Brasch and Frame. It was an original and moving tribute, attended by a big crowd.

Brasch’s and Frame’s voices came strongly down the years; some things have changed, some are the same. Brasch writing to Frame that “bulldozers on Waiheke sounds like sacrilege” is all too familiar, but Frame’s description of Brasch as having “discipline instead of marrow in his bones” could not be applied to too many people now.

Last year Frame scholar Patrick Evans said in a public lecture that lots of his students loved ‘Janet’, the Janet of the autobiography, but weren’t quite so keen on actually reading her novels. I was interested to hear what Charles Brasch thought of some of them.

He thought Daughter buffalo “a very beautiful, persuasive fable”, A state of seige “above all a poem” , The rainbirds “haunting and troubling” and he loved Scented gardens for the blind. He even went so far as to give readings of the novels to the Balclutha P.T. A. , hoping to gain Frame a few more readers. I’d have liked to have been a fly on the wall at that literary soiree.

Brasch made it a rule of his life that if he admired any writing he always told the author, a rule I might start following in the next few days when I come across some of the “good old immortal artists” of our time, in memory of two from another.

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