And the winners are…

So who were the notable winners at the Montana Book Awards (notable in that I actually managed to make a note of what they said)?

Readers’ Choice Award:
The 10 pm question by Kate de Goldi, who thought it was amazing to be asked to the grown-up table and then get dessert. Also a great night for Longacre, who had the two runners up in the Fiction category and the best dressed publisher.

New Zealand Society of Authors Best First Book Award
The rehearsal by Eleanor Catton, who beamed in from Iowa in both senses of the word and whose mind was boggled by the fact that “there exists an award for first time authors”.

 Fiction:
Novel about my wife by Emily Perkins, who thanked her long-suffering partner as ‘novelists are not easy to live with”.

Perkins also won the Montana Medal for Fiction or Poetry and shared the best-dressed author kudos with Jill Trevelyan, who won the Biography category and the Montana Medal for non-fiction for Rita Angus: An artist’s life.  Trevelyan noted that there would never have been a book if  Rita Angus hadn’t written letters to Douglas Lilburn, if the famously private Lilburn hadn’t kept them and the Alexander Turnbull Library hadn’t both preserved them and made them accessible.

Poetry:
Collected Poems, 1951 – 2006 by C.K.Stead – “I’m not sure who I am…the anonymous editor of the collected works of the late C. K. Stead?”

Poetry:
The rocky shore by Jenny Bornholdt, who found it odd to be in France and giving her thanks long distance.

Lifestyle and Contemporary Culture
Ladies a plate: traditional home baking by Alexa Johnston, who thanked Montana for “giving us wine and giving us money”, as well as her mother and her husband and the bakers who created our history.

Illustrative
Len Castle: making the molecules dance by Len Castle, who said the book gods had been kind, but so they should be to a man who has been a giant of New Zealand artistry and craftsmanship for over 60 years. He mentioned the wonderful Lopdell House Gallery in Titirangi, which reminded me of what a great gallery it is, and lead me to resolve to drop by next time I’m out that way searching for the West’s house.

 And the Robyn Stewart kiss of death record? Not so bad this year.

Essential reading for rockstar wannabes

Okay, so I’ve always wanted to be a rockstar.  I know, I know, not a very original aspiration to have and librarian-rockstars are few and far between but that’s why they’re called “dreams”.  So naturally my eye was taken by the following recent acquisitions to the library collection.  For what hath a librarian-rockstar if not the urge (and skill) to research her dream profession?

Battle of the band names : the best and worst band names ever and all the brilliant, colorful, stupid ones in between – This is required reading because there’s no way I’m going to be able to coast to rockstar supremacy on the back of my own mediocre talent. I will need a band and getting the name right is trés important.  To be fair this is a bit of a one joke book and the sort of thing that you can just dip in and out of but having said that there are plenty of noteworthy additions.  My personal favourite?  John Cougar Concentration Camp.  Oh, and Kiwi bands like The Formyula are included (for bad spelling probably, tsk).

Crap lyrics : a celebration of all the very worst pop lyrics of all time– ever! – Once I have my imaginary band we will necessarily have to write some songs (though we won’t be so much “pop” as synth-dub-barbecue reggae-neopunk). It might be nice to know what to avoid in terms of lyricism. When you think about it most pop lyrics seem to be a bit crap, don’t they? I mean even the hallowed Beatles were fairly banal in their day.

Love love me do, you know I love you, I’ll always be true. So ple-ee-ee-ease, love me do.

Now that I think about it, even the syntax is a bit skewiff in that one.  So even the rock greats can pen some howlers from time to time and this book is just the one to point at the naked rock ‘n’ roll emperor and tell him to get his kit on.

The complete idiot’s guide to starting a band – ‘Nuff said?

So, any nominations for worst band name or crappest ever lyrics?

Man Booker prize longlist is out …

And what do you reckon? Here’s the longlist.

As yet I haven’t read ANY of these, but am intrigued especially by How to paint a dead man by Sarah Hall. I interviewed her at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival in 2008 and she talked about the percolating process of this novel:

… very loosely based around the life of Giorgio Morandi, Italian still life artist, “a very weird character who painted the same series of objects over and over again his whole life. A recluse, very well respected in the field of art but lot of rumours flew around about him and also speculation about the work. He painted bottles over and over again on the table and he never answered anyone’s artistic theories about them. There is a character loosely based on him and four narratives. Art/Death/Existential matters. It’s going to be a hard sell!”

Others on my to-read list are The Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt (blogged about Sue earlier this month) and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. It’s set in one of the most interesting times in English history – the reign of Henry VIII – and told largely through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell. 

Another novel with a historical bent that I want to read is The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds. The description read to me like a Peter Ackroyd-esque blend of historical figures and intense lyricism – a good thing:

After years struggling with alcohol, critical neglect and depression, great nature poet John Clare finds himself in High Beach Private Asylum. At the same time another poet, the young Alfred Tennyson, moves nearby and becomes entangled in the life and catastrophic schemes of the asylum’s owner, the peculiar, charismatic Dr Matthew Allen. This intensely lyrical novel describes his vertiginous fall, through hallucinatory episodes of insanity and dissolving identity, towards his final madness. Historically accurate, but brilliantly imagined, the closed world of High Beach and its various inmates – the doctor, his lonely daughter in love with Tennyson, the brutish staff and John Clare himself – are brought vividly to life. Rapturous yet precise, exquisitely written, rich in character and detail, this is a remarkable and deeply affecting book: a visionary novel which contains a world.

  • Man Booker longlist press release
  • Heavyweights clash on Booker longlist – The Guardian
  • What have you read from the longlist? What might you want to? What glaring omissions are there?