Lighting the literary fire: Remembering Michael King

coverThe Press Christchurch Writers Festival just keeps on keeping on. Two festivals couldn’t proceed due to earthquakes, their Kidsfest events had to be cancelled on Tuesday due to snow, but the first of the literary events they are determined to bring to Christchurch went ahead successfully last night.

Lloyd Jones and Rachael King were in conversation about The Silence Beyond: Selected Writings of Michael King, the collection Rachael has assembled of her father’s essays, talks and eulogies.

It’s always good to get the chance to hear writers talk about their own work, but the novelty of  listening to two wonderful writers talk about someone else made for a fantastic evening. It’s a shame there weren’t more people there to enjoy it.

The man who emerged from their reminiscences and from the the excerpts they read from The Silence Beyond was not at all how I imagined him. Surely “one of New Zealand’s greatest modern thinkers” would be super serious, even a bit dour.

King may have been serious about his work, but he wasn’t one of those people who seeks to present himself in the best possible light – writing about a drunken student escapade involving a late-night visit to Charles Brasch  and several very amusing cases of mistaken identity proves that.  The readings and the reminiscences really made me want to read every word in The Silence Beyond, which is always a good sign. Too often I’ve been to literary events where the authors actually put me off reading their books.

My favourite question of the night was: what book did Rachael think Michael would be proudest of? The answer was Moriori.

Do you have a favourite Michael King book?

One thought on “Lighting the literary fire: Remembering Michael King

  1. Keri Hulme 28 July 2011 / 6:14 pm

    I have not yet had the pleasure of reading “The Silences Beyond” but I certainly will, in the near future.

    I’d had sporadic conversations, letter & email, with Michael over the years – the last after Irihapeti Ramsden had died. I esteemed him as a person, a friend, & as a writer/historian.

    “Moriori” is brillant – but I love “Being Pakeha” – as a Kai Tahu with a large number of Pakeha ancestors, it said a lot to us.

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