Unless you have been hiding under a very mossy rock, you probably know it’s New Zealand Book Month. In honour of this, I have been pondering who it is I most enjoy out of our wealth of wonderful writers and why.
The way I decided to do this is with some personal experiences and then a quote or two:
Janet Frame: I cried when I first read about her time spent in ‘insane asylums’, and when I watched Angel at my Table. I recently did the pilgrimage to her home in Oamaru, and I sat in the car outside in the rain because we had missed the opening hours. I imagined her playing in the yard with her siblings… such a simple home for such a wondrous and complex mind.
…and I planted carrot seed that never came up, for the wind breathed a blow-away spell; the wind is warm, was warm and the days above burst un-heeded…
Hone Tuwhare: His lust for life, women, the land and just joy itself inspires me often and his passion for food I well understand.
My love is really iron when she cries and softer than a pound of butter when she kisses me…
Keri Hulme: She’s a polarising author, but The Bone People was wondrous for me, her use of words, description of the landscape and the people who lived in it were so evocative to me and when I travelled to the southern West Coast after that, it made all the more sense.
The wind has dropped. It is growing very dark. The shag line has gone back to Maukiekie, bird after bird beating forward in the wavering skein. The waves suck at the rocks and leave them reluctantly. We will come back ssssoooo… they hiss from the dark.
Maurice Gee: I’m a big fan of Salt – Hari and Pearl are great characters finding their way and themselves in a dystopian land.
She did not wake at the end of the dream. She slept more deeply. She did not remember or forget it. It stayed inside her. When she woke in the morning she was different, but she did not know why, or why the first thought she had was: I am Pearl.
Kate De Goldi: I love her style of writing and her vivid descriptions draw you into the lives of her characters. The 10 pm Question was shamefully on my list of must reads for years, and when I finally read it, I felt the guilt of someone who should know better.
For someone so hefty Alma was surprisingly light on her feet. The flesh around her middle and arms shook alarmingly when she bossa novaed; sweat gathered in the folds of her chins, and her breath came fast and rattling; but her feet tripped and darted as daintily as any slim-line ballerina.
The Magpies is such an iconic Kiwi poem, I wonder if we we almost don’t hear its beauty and craft anymore…
When Tom and Elizabeth took the farm
The bracken made their bed
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said