Fleur Beale’s Fierce September

Dystopian societies have featured in a lot of young adult novels lately and an increasing number of these are written by New Zealand authors.  There is Anna Mackenzie’s The Sea-wreck stranger and it’s sequel, Ebony Hill, Mandy Hager’s Blood of the Lamb series, and my favourite, Fleur Beale’s Juno of Taris and the sequel, Fierce September.

Fierce September continues the story of Juno and the other inhabitants of Taris.  The group are rescued from their dying island and are taken to Aotearoa.  The country that was once New Zealand has changed considerably in the time that they have been living on Taris; Christchurch is now home to only a few people as it is too dry to sustain life.  Juno and her people arrive in Wellington and are to stay in a refugee centre while they settle into life Outside.  Life is very different here – they have technology, different clothes and freedom from the controlling society of Taris.  But life on the Outside isn’t so peachy.  There are those that don’t welcome the people of Taris and launch a vicious hate campaign against them and only days after they arrive a pandemic hits the country.

Fierce September is a fantastic sequel and it was great to find out what happened to the people of Taris after they left their home.  Fleur Beale has created interesting characters with complex relationships and you really empathise with them.  One of the interesting extras with this book is the online content that you can also read.  There are two blogs that give different views showing how people in Aotearoa feel about the refugees from Taris.  If you haven’t read Juno of Taris you can always start with Fierce September as there’s a good synopsis of the first book at the front.

It’s only words …

We read because we love words.  We write because we’ve got something to say.

BookI love words.  Am obsessed by them in all forms.  Big words, small words, local and foreign ones, multi-syllabic obfuscatory exemplars and wee short ones.

I love reading them in a book (screen/newspaper/instruction sheet/shampoo-bottle/bus ticket …), and I love writing them too.

When writing (as you may have noticed) I tend towards the verbose, the chatty, the loquacious even.  My children tell me I torture them by frequently using words they’ve never heard before.  My long-suffering blog editor would, on some days, cheerfully toss me out the window, I’m sure.

Which brings me, finally, to my point.  (See what I mean?).  The other day while co-editing a somewhat chatty blog post, a heated discussion of Continue reading

Brother Sun, Sister Moon

Francis of Assisi and his worldAs most Christchurch residents well know, yesterday marked one month A.C.E. (After Canterbury Earthquake);  however the 4th of October is also notable as World Animal Day and as the Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, and founder of the Order of Friars Minor.

Francis was the son of a cloth merchant and was born towards the end of the 12th century in Assisi, in the gently rolling hills of Umbria.  Following a serious illness, he was inspired to give up all worldly goods to become an itinerant preacher.   His love for nature and animals gave rise to legends in which he was depicted preaching to birds and taming wolves. Many churches still hold an annual Blessing of the Animals service to commemorate his Feast Day.

Saint Francis is also remembered for his Canticle of the Creatures (also known as Canticle of the Sun) in which he refers to the sun, wind and fire as his brothers, and to the moon, stars and water as his sisters.

To find out more about Saint Francis (whose hometown, incidentally, was rocked by strong earthquakes in September 1997) browse the following resources:

And to (belatedly) celebrate World Animal Day, check out the following:

Cradle to the Grave

Ron Mueck ExhibitionRon Mueck Exhibition
Ron Mueck ExhibitionRon Mueck Exhibition

I’ve heard people talk about the Ron Mueck sculptures as creepy, disturbing or grotesque. And I was secretly looking forward to a bit of that freaky factor. But when I saw the sculptures in the flesh, the words that came to me were not the ones I imagined – serene, peaceful, still.

And the other thing that struck me was a sense of history – both in terms of the personal and human (literally from the cradle to the grave), and the history of art. These were figures you could imagine in Renaissance art – the pregnant woman with her ecstatic face could easily be a Madonna. The little old lady, tiny in her bed was like a miniature Dutch painting. And Dead Dad has all the still grandeur of Jesus laid out in the tomb.

It’s unexpectedly beautiful.