Dear Diary Day

Dear Diary Day is observed each year on 22 September. If you have kept a diary, today is the day to go back and reread your efforts – or if you don’t have a diary, today is a great time to go about starting one.

Diaries are acknowledged to be excellent ways of letting off steam, and effectively becoming a better person (though if you are like me, realistically, you just brood on what you have written and become all the more grouchy – but then I am a bit ‘special’ like that). There is also nothing quite like going back and rereading these snapshots of your life – be they good or bad – and, in the process, enjoying a lot of memories, and learning from your mistakes.

Dear Diary Day, is also a great time to acknowledge those great diarists who have taken the ultimate step in diary keeping – namely, committing their memories to print. Here are some great reading picks for ‘Dear Diary Day’ that will hopefully inspire you to write up your thoughts for posterity too:

Cover of The Kenneth Williams diariesThe Kenneth Williams Diaries: The Telegraph recently predicted that in twenty years time, Kenneth Williams will not be remembered as a Carry on favourite, but as one of the English language’s finest diarist. It is impossible not to agree – this volume of his diaries is devastatingly honest both in his assessment of others, from Joe Orton to Tony Hancock, and of himself. Deliciously waspish, and often unbearably tragic, these diaries really do bring readers closer to a fine autodidact and one of Britain’s most underrated performers.

The Noel Coward Diaries: These erudite and witty diaries bring to life one of Britain’s most beloved theatrical figures – Noel Coward. A man of seemingly numerous talents from acting to writing, Coward’s diaries take us through theatrical tours, his own private struggles with depression, and ultimately priceless stories of his contemporaries and of himself. A sheer delight to read, Coward’s diaries are rewardingly gossipy but always without any sort malice, just like the man himself.

The Diary of Virginia Woolf: These diaries from one the 20th century’s most important and ground-breaking literary giants, are a real privilege to read. Virginia Woolf’s diaries take you to the very heart of a genius – dispelling the myth of a sobering and snobby intellectual, and replacing this with a complex, sensitive, and even humorous woman. With descriptions of other famous literary figures – from Katherine Mansfield to T. S. Eliot – as well as descriptions of day to day life, and her journey through writing, this first volume of her diaries is a fascinating and eye-opening read.

Cover of The diary of a young girlThe Diary of A Young Girl: Just after receiving a blank diary for her birthday, Jewish teenager Anne Frank and the rest of her family were forced into hiding in Nazi occupied Amsterdam. This beloved classic is her evocative and honest record of those two years in hiding in a claustrophobic attic, along with her parents, sister, and others desperate to escape the horror of the Nazi regime. Over seventy years since its first publication, ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ remains an unforgettable testament to one of the most shameful events in world history, as well as a moving tribute to the spirit of a remarkable young girl.

The Diary of Samuel Pepys: You couldn’t really say that you love reading diaries and not read Samuel Pepys. A member of parliament who rose to the position of Chief Secretary to the Admiralty, Pepys is better known now for the diaries he wrote throughout the 1600s. Recording such historical events as the Plague and Great Fire of London, these astonishingly honest and ever entertaining diaries also chart the author’s own life – from political chicanery, to his own sexual adventures and domestic conflict.

Cover of The diary of a booksellerThe Diary of A Bookseller: Shaun Bythell’s hilarious diary charts a year in the life of the largest secondhand bookshop in Scotland. It is one of the ultimate books about books, packed with stories of eccentric book buyers, sound book recommendations, and accounts of stock purchase trips to auction houses and estates. With its wonderfully barbed and ever-entertaining style, this is a diary enthusiast’s and book shop lover’s dream.

The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh: These classic diaries reveal Evelyn Waugh in all his cantankerous yet honest and genuine glory. A must for Waugh fans, and anyone wishing to delve into the history of this era, these diaries are a mesmerising read filled with hilariously indiscreet portrayals of his peers, and great insights into the creation of Waugh’s beloved work.

Journal of Katherine Mansfield: The diaries of Katherine Mansfield contained in this volume, are mainly drawn from the last years of her life as this beloved author struggled but bravely strove to continue writing. Despite war time losses, and the immense pain Mansfield found herself in, she manages to write of the beauty of things surrounding her, and movingly reflects on her life, and celebrated writing.

Cover of Ancient as the hillsAncient as the Hills: James Lees Milne was a writer and English architectural conservationist, now best known for his compulsive diaries. Kept over the course of 60 years, his diaries cover a fascinating half century in history – from war time England to Blair Britain. Along with engaging descriptions of his own life and work, Milne observes a fascinating array of people from Nancy Mitford to Mick Jagger – always with absolute honesty and a fantastic eye for detail.

I Will Bear Witness: These powerful diaries are Jewish scholar Victor Klemperer’s record of life in Nazi Germany. His eloquent and mesmerising entries describe the day-to-day horror of life in Hitler’s Germany with important detail, candour, and courage.

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Spring it on – Get Healthy

The best part about spring is the end of winter and the days getting longer and warmer. It’s also a time to look after your health, and Christchurch City Libraries has some great health eResources for you to get information on everything from the common cold to yoga. Start with Consumer Health Complete and Health & Wellness Resource Center.

Some things to research may include:

The common cold
These always lurk around into spring – discover what scientists have found so far in their quest for a cure.

Food tribes
Thinking about joining the Paleo gang or doing the plant-based vegan thing? Explore some scientific facts first.

Medicines
The Gale Encyclopedia of Prescription Drugs: A Comprehensive Guide to the Most Common Medications is a great resource if you want to find out more about a medicine that you have been prescribed.

Fighting allergies
Flowers and grasses spring into life and release pollen, which won’t fill you with joy if you suffer from hay fever. Find out the latest information and remedies to help with your allergies.

Getting fit
If you’re starting up your exercise regime again after a winter break, be sure not to injure yourself – get some tips on getting fit.

Te Reo in the Whare

Kia ora!

It’s Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) from September 10-16, and what a great opportunity that is for us all to celebrate and learn the beautiful Māori language. Kia kaha te reo Māori …

But what about if you’ve not got the time right now to learn a new language? What about if you’re so busy with work and whānau and friends that the idea of having to learn new words and new sentence structures is just way too hard. Well guess what, e hoa mā – it doesn’t have to be scary. You and your whānau can start on your reo journey from within the comfort of your own whare.

Everyday items around the house

What are some household objects you use all the time? What sorts of clothing and food items do you always have in the wardrobe or fridge? Find out the te reo Māori words for these items, and use them every day:

  • Where are my hū (shoes)?
  • I’ll meet you out at the waka (car)
  • Would you like some rīwai (potatoes)?

Keen to find out some common Māori kupu? Check out First Thousand Words in Māori or First Words in Māori.

Cover of First Thousand Words in Māori Cover of First Words in Māori

Instructions

You can use te reo Māori to give instructions to your tamariki and other whānau members. Do you feel a bit self-conscious, or think they mightn’t understand you? Guess what? You don’t need to worry about this anymore – there are lots of ways of giving instructions that you might already know, or that you can use with gestures to make sure that people can understand what you’re saying:

  • Whakarongo mai (Listen to me) – touch your ear
  • Haere mai (Come here) – beckon
  • Kia kaha (Be strong)

Cover of The Raupō phrasebook of modern MāoriScotty Morrison’s The Raupō Phrasebook of Modern Māori  has a great chapter on phrases and questions that you can use around the home, as well as lots of other useful phrases you can use at work, school, or play when you start feeling more confident.

Read books

Having some easy Māori language books at home is a great way to pick up some basic Māori words without even trying. If you’ve got tamariki – children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, or even little next-door neighbours – get them together for a reading session. With so many children’s books available in te reo, you’ll be learning new words before you know it.

Have a look for Māori translations of old favourites, like Te Pāmu o Koro Meketānara (Old MacDonald had a Farm), or new stories like the Bud.e Pānui books for people just starting to read in Māori. And if you don’t quite feel confident enough to jump straight into full Māori books just yet, you can always try picture books with singalong CDs so you don’t need to worry if you don’t say the word absolutely right.

Cover of Te Rua Rāpeti Cover of Te Pāmu o koro Meketānara

Sing songs

Tamariki can also help you to learn some Māori by sharing the songs they learn at school.

  • Mā is white, Whero is red – learn the Māori names for colours
  • Mahunga, pakihiwi – have fun playing heads, shoulders, knees and toes

Check out Anika Moa’s two Songs for Bubbas CDs or Waiata Mai: Sing along with Aunty Bea to get started.

Use tools

Are you worried there are too many new words for you to actually remember any of them? Don’t worry – the folks at the Māori Language Commission have your back, and want to support you this Māori Language Week. Check out their collection of useful information and phrases, and find out more about Māori language and culture. They’ve even created some special resources for this year, so why not have a look at them, and challenge yourself to buy a coffee or a ticket for your ride to work, or find out what the wifi password is at your local cafe.

So take the plunge this Māori Language Week – kia kaha te reo – and include some Māori kupu into your conversations with these everyday words. Even by starting off with just a few words a day, you’ll start to build up a kete of Māori kupu to use in everyday conversations, and you’ll become more confident to use those words outside the whare. Over time, there will be more people using more te reo in all areas of daily life, and that is what we need for a strengthened, healthy, Māori language.

Ko taku reo taku ohooho, ko taku reo taku mapihi mauria – My language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul.

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Throughout Te Wiki o te Reo Māori we’ll be blogging about ways you can help strengthen the reo.

Hello springtime

Spring has almost arrived – depending on which definition you use*  – and the weather is certainly reflecting this.

It is easy to be inspired by nature. When I was younger I used to take every opportunity to make something out of whatever I could find in the garden. Daisy chains, bouquets, weavings, dried flowers that just looked dead…couldn’t have anything nice in the garden with me around. Those lovely red roses would soon find themselves dangling from my bedroom door frame in a preserved state of shrivelled brown decay.

Christchurch City Libraries has a wealth of books that are full of ideas for the nature loving craftarians out there. Here are just a few:

Helen Ahpornsiri creates beautiful artwork out of pressed flowers. Her book, Helen Ahpornsiri’s A Year in the Wild, is a beautifully illustrated (with her pressed flower art – no paint in sight) account of the four seasons of the natural world. I will commission husband to make me a flower press at once. Or just use a heavy book.

For fans of both Shakespeare and the natural world, I introduce you to: Botanical Shakespeare, exquisitely illustrated with the flora and fauna cited in the works of the most famous playwright Shakespeare, alongside accompanying verses.

Though a British guide, Margaret Wilson’s Wild Flowers of Britain is so beautiful to look at that it really transports me to a scene straight out of English romance novel. The author was a keen botanist and documented, in watercolour, (over the course of a number of years!) a thousand British and Irish plants.

As a huge Tolkien fan, no way could I pass up on Flora of Middle-Earth. This book is a catalog of each and every plant found in Tolkien’s fictional world, Middle-Earth. Nerdy bliss.

The Great Library Seed and Plant Swap

Where & When: At a library near you

About: The seed swap has proved wildly successful over the years, just bring in your leftover seeds and we’ll put them out to share (though don’t worry if you don’t have any this year, you can always bring some next year 🙂 ). We welcome vegetable, herb, flower, native, and heritage seeds. You can also bring any spare potted-up seedlings. Yay gardening.

Check out our gardening page for gardening information and resources.

A Naturalist’s Bookshelf

Now about that spring cleaning…

*The astrological/solar beginning of spring takes place at the vernal equinox on Sunday, 23 September. The meteorological reckoning has the beginning of spring as 1 September.

Celebrate Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year

Jewish New Year, or Rosh Hashanah (literally translated as ‘the head of the year’) is one of the most important dates on the Jewish calendar. It is a time for seeking forgiveness and in effect, beginning the year with a clean slate. Celebrated over two days, Rosh Hashanah is marked through traditions such as blowing a shofar (a hollowed out rams horn), casting off sins into a river, and dipping apples in honey (a symbolic hope for a sweet new year). It is a celebration filled with hauntingly beautiful ancient customs and symbolism, and even for those who are not of the jewish faith, Rosh Hashanah and jewish tradition in general, is fascinating to learn about.

Judaism has hugely informed western ethics and law, making awareness around this faith important. The library has some fantastic books on Judaism both for children and adults. as well as great resources on jewish history.

Cover of The story of the Jews by Simon SchamaOne of these gems is Simon Schamas epic ‘The Story of the Jews which details the suffering and accomplishments of the Jewish race from 1000 BC to the Holocaust, to modern day. Schama tells the Jewish story with empathy, insight, and even humour.

More locally the library also holds Jewish Lives in New Zealand a beautifully produced book which records the achievements of over 8000 New Zealanders who identify as Jewish.

If you are really wanting to go the extra mile and are keen to attempt some Hebrew, our free online learning resource ‘Mango Languages’ has a course you can try on both biblical and modern Hebrew. Again, there are also some great books in our collection you can use to supplement your learning, both for children and adults.

Wanting some Jewish themed movies? The library has a fantastic selection of these too, including these five great picks:

  • Chariots of Fire, a classic movie which tells the story of two runners in the 1924 Olympics- one a Scottish Christian, the other Harold Abrahams, a Jewish man seeking to overcome the world’s prejudice.
  • Fiddler on the Roof A musical with universal appeal, Fiddler on the Roof tells the story of a poor jewish milkman living in Tsarist Russia as he and his wife seek to find husbands for their three daughters. With touching themes of family, tradition, and human tragedy, Fiddler on The Roof is also packed with excellent music and timeless jewish humour.
  • A Place to Call Home: Set in post war Australia, and featuring a seriously fantastic Jewish heroine, this binge-worthy TV series is the ever addictive saga of Australian royalty – the Blighs. Happily the library holds all four parts to this series, because once you start, you really won’t stop.
  • Daniel Deronda: This beautifully filmed adaptation of George Elliott’s classic novel, tells the parallel stories of Gwendolyn Harloth, a beautiful but spoilt gambler, and Daniel Deronda, a sensitive and brilliant young man. Unique for its time, Daniel Deronda explores the theme of Jewish identity in the nineteenth century with a beautiful sympathy and understanding.
  • Gentleman’s Agreement When a journalist decides to research anti-semitism as empathetically as he can by telling people he is Jewish, he witnesses first hand the bigotry that is rife in 1930s America. A classic movie which remains as relevant and effective as when it was first released in 1947.

There are so many amazing Jewish authors it is hard to recommend just a few you could try, but here is my attempt with five very different writers:

  •  I Will Bear Witness ‘I Will Bear Witness’ is the incredible diary of Jewish scholar Victor Klemperer. Written in Germany during the second world war, these powerful and mesmerising diaries describe day to day life under the Nazi regime with important detail, candour, and courage.
  • Foundation: Asimov’s classic Foundation series is the forerunner to other space age Science fiction. The first book in this trilogy begins the tale of the death and reestablishment of the Galatic empire. While brilliant Mathematician Hari Seldon attempts to gather the Galaxy’s finest thinkers in order to preserve knowledge and ideas for the next generation, corrupt warlords threaten to destroy their ‘Foundation’ and potentially, any hope for the future of mankind.
  • The Catcher in the Rye: This unforgettable classic is sixteen year old Holden Cauldfield’s simultaneously hilarious and tragic story (narrated directly from a Sanatorium) of the events that happened to him just before Christmas. In Holden/Salinger’s own words “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it”. This is exactly how you feel after reading this.
  • Cover of The Finkler QuestionThe Finkler Question: This Man Booker Prize Winning novel explores what it means to be Jewish and the dark theme of anti semitism. ‘The Finker Question’ tells the story of two friends- Sam Finkler a Jewish author and philosopher, and Julian Treslove, a less successful BBC worker. When Treslove is attacked as he walks home that night, there follows his exploration of who he is, opening up a story of identity, old age, justice, and love. A wonderful story told with compassion, humour, and intelligence.
  • Exodus This gripping epic tells the story of the birth of Israel through the eyes of Karen, a German Jewish teenager orphaned by the Holocaust; Kitty a glamorous American looking to make a new start in life, and Ari, an Israeli freedom fighter raised on a kibbutz and determined to see the survival of this new nation. ‘Exodus’ is a fast paced novel written with passion and insight, one of those reads that really is impossible to put down.

Rosh Hashanah began on Sunday evening 9 September, and ends on the evening of Tuesday 11 September. Whichever way you decide to celebrate, shanah tovah everyone!

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严歌苓小说中的伦理和女权 Ethical and feminist mentality in Geling Yan’s novels

去年底,当电影《芳华》在海内外引起很大反响时,大家再次关注原著及其作者严歌苓。严歌苓是最受华人读者喜爱的当代女性作家之一。她的作品备受大陆著名导演的青睐,被频频搬上荧幕。虽然侨居国外,她作品中的人物贴近大陆各个历史时期现实生活中的普通人。她笔下的女性角色不仅美丽、善良,而且有着深邃的个性和历史的复杂烙印。她在作品中呈现的对伦理和女权的视角往往引起读者对传统道德的思考和争议。

伦理是用于定义一件事在道德上的好坏和正误。对伦理的认知源于人类初期作为社会群体而制定的生存规则。在一个社会,伦理是道德标准的体系。不同的社会有不同的体系。在中国,源于老子的《道德经》和孔子有关君子的教诲形成了最基本的道德规范。古代儒家的《三从四德》对妇女一生的行为、修养和道德进行了要求和规定。近代的“五四”运动在科学和民主的旗帜下,提倡新道德和妇女解放。1949年后,法律保证妇女在政治经济、教育水平和婚姻家庭方面地位的提高,提倡男女平等。从历史的角度来看,关于妇女地位的伦理道德是从夫权到女权的演进。

然而,严歌苓的作品对这些不同时期规范妇女行为的礼教和道德却有其独特的诠释。《小姨多鹤》讲述日本少女多鹤在日本战败投降时作为被遗弃的殖民者被卖到东北一户人家,成了传宗接代的“工具”。她被安排成为自己所生孩子的小姨,以这一尴尬的身份与一位中国女人生活在同一个屋檐下,对同一个男人衍生出爱和依赖。在这部小说中,读者会看到旧道德和新道德在特殊年代下对多鹤命运的驱使和多鹤无选择的畸形爱恋的形成。读者可能会问道:这些伦理道德究竟为女性带来了什么?对这个问题,您可能会在《陆犯焉识》中找到一些答案。这是一部家族史小说。小说描写了主人公陆焉识在民国时留洋回国到文革时期的一生,是以作者祖父严恩春为原型。尽管小说围绕陆焉识的经历展开,其妻子冯婉喻演绎了一位符合传统道德礼教的贤妻良母形象。冯婉喻温婉而坚毅,她没有对包办婚姻的不满和风流倜傥丈夫的责备。尽管世事变迁,她对丈夫的爱恋、忠诚和顺从从未改变。她以三从四德为基准的付出换来了丈夫的浪子回头和爱。但她最终已经不能感知这份爱了。这本书的凄美使读者对传统道德下女性争取爱和被爱权利的方式感到困惑和惋惜。

如果说女权这一概念在多鹤和冯婉喻这样的传统女性形象中若影若现或无踪可寻,严歌苓在另外一些作品中围绕爱和性的道德和不道德,通过其塑造的众多女性角色对女权展开更深入的探寻。《天浴》是一个极端的例子。文革下乡的女知青文秀是一个单纯又充满朝气的女孩,为了回城的利益而出卖自己的身体和灵魂,逐渐迷失和泯灭。这部小说提出了一个尖锐的问题:我们是应该指责文秀用不道德的手段来获取回城的权利,还是那个道德泯灭的时代!《金陵十三钗》中一群做着“不道德”营生的妓女用自己的生命换回了女学生们的安全逃离被日本人占领的南京城。这群女人用最极致的方式在维护着民族的尊严。《花儿与少年》中女主人公晚江为了寻求物质上的幸福,和丈夫离婚并嫁到美国。当读者指责晚江的不道德时也会看到她周围每一个角色的猥琐。当一个女人用婚姻来换取权利而周围的人也坐收渔利时,所有的道德问题可能就不只是她一个人的问题了。《老师好美》讲述了一位36岁单身离异女班主任与两位花样少年在校园中演绎了一场隐秘而炽烈的不伦之恋。这部小说中的女主人公是严歌苓所有小说中备受责难的人物之一。不过,如果从女权主义的道德观来看,读者可能会理解女主人公是怎样地挣扎在关爱自己和关爱他人的矛盾中。这一矛盾是女权主义伦理学Feminist ethics最核心的问题。

严歌苓的小说吸引读者的地方在于她努力在作品中探讨人性的复杂性。如果您对严歌苓的小说感兴趣,在图书馆还可以找到她的其它小说。同时也欢迎您参加Fendalton图书馆的读书会分享您的读后感。我们每月第二个周五晚6.30-7.30在Fendalton图书馆会面。

严歌苓部分小说书目Novels by Contemporary Chinese Author Yan, Geling

Hong Wang
Network Library Assistant

Charlotte Grimshaw: I and I and existentialism: WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Blurring the lines between fact and fiction is a way of life for Charlotte Grimshaw. Growing up in father C.K. Stead’s orbit, Charlotte’s world was one where every facet of life could be fictionalised.

Cover of MazarineCharlotte spoke at WORD Christchurch Festival 2018 with Kate de Goldi about her latest novel, Mazarine, in which she explores the evolution of the shattered self; through the story of a woman trying to find her adult daughter, missing in Europe, ultimately finding her own sense of being.

There is a large element of psychoanalysis in Mazarine, a sense of personal experience within the narrative. The character of Francis is ethereal, almost non-existent in her family unit: adopted, ignored, her feelings unvalidated.

Francis keeps asking for validation of her existence throughout the book, her character lacking a sense of reality as her past has no narrative. This is a common human condition, asserts Grimshaw.

Mazarine, the ‘other mother’ whose son has gone missing with Francis’ daughter, is the blue butterfly to Francis’ brown female. (The male Mazarine gets the colour.)

Yet Charlotte was determined to avoid ‘selfie fiction” – meandering existentialism with no plot – writing instead a page-turner; successful in hooking this reader with “what happens next?” Grimshaw writes a compelling mystery that crosses the world, with an essential motif – a tattoo.

When asked of her inspiration for the story, Charlotte remembers an incident that drove the beginning (a suicide at West Ham railway station – Julian Assange’s lawyer) but not how circumstance took her there. Is she visited by a Muse? Charlotte suggests it might be aliens…

At the time of writing, the U.S. appeared to be on the brink of electing a female President (Hilary Clinton). Charlotte saw this as a possible zeitgeist. (Instead, the U.S elected a ‘narcissist gorilla’, she says; in whose world women exist only as handmaidens, plastic effigies of themselves; beautiful, young and never fat.)

Accordingly, the characters in Mazarine are strong females; Inez, the adoptive mother who will not speak to Francis, always refusing to acknowledge her feelings is ‘a towering black hole.’ Mazarine, significantly the first female friend Francis has found outside her family, is the Yin to Inez’ Yan. Francis’ father is the handmaiden, cowtowing to Inez’ dominant emotions and perception.

A wonderful session made all the more interesting by Kate de Goldi’s eloquent questioning and deep analysis.

“Therapy is a truth excavator” – Kate de G.

Kate de Goldi talks macro vs microcosm with Charlotte Grimshaw at WORD Christchurch

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Strangers Arrive – Leonard Bell: WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

image_proxyWelcomed by Marianne Hargreaves, Executive Director of WORD Christchurch Festival, Leonard Bell enthralled us on Wednesday night with his presentation on artists that emigrated to New Zealand, and their influence. His book Strangers Arrive: Emigrés and the Arts in New Zealand, 1930–1980 was published in November 2017 by Auckland University Press.

Leonard Bell is associate professor of art history at the University of Auckland. His writings on cross-cultural interactions and representations and the work of travelling, migrant and refugee artists and photographers have been published in New Zealand, Britain, the United States, Australia, Germany and the Czech Republic. He is author of Marti Friedlander (Auckland University Press, 2009), Colonial Constructs: European Images of Maori 1840–1914 (AUP, 1992) and In Transit: Questions of Home and Belonging in New Zealand Art (2007). He is co-editor of Jewish Lives in New Zealand (2012).

Using fascinating art images he regaled the audience with stories of artists’ forced migrations here fleeing from Nazism, communist countries or displacement after the Second World War. Making connections between displacement and creativity he follows the journey of photographers, architects, sculptors, writers, painters and other artists, the places these artists connected with each other, and and their influence on emerging New Zealand artists.

He also discussed the reception they received from general society and the inspiration they were to some local artists such as Colin McCahon. They brought with them modern styles of art unseen here which in turn changed the local art scene forever. We owe a lot to these artists.

His talk has inspired me to read his book Strangers Arrive: Emigrés and the Arts in New Zealand, 1930–1980and to delve a little more into New Zealand art history.

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Together We Read – The Love That I Have

Christchurch City Libraries joins libraries across Australia and New Zealand in offering the latest Together We Read digital book club selection, The Love That I Have by award-winning Australian author James Moloney. From 23 August–6 September, Christchurch City Libraries users will be able to borrow the eBook for free – with no wait lists or holds – and participate in an online discussion. Readers can access the title by visiting OverDrive or by downloading the Libby app.

Together We Read is facilitated by OverDrive, the leading platform for ebooks, audiobooks and magazines. This international digital book club connects readers in Australia and New Zealand with the same ebook at the same time through public libraries.

The Love That I Have tells the story of Margot Baumann who has left school to take up her sister’s job in the mailroom of a large prison. But this is Germany in 1944, and the prison is Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin. Margot is shielded from the camp’s brutality as she has no contact with prisoners. But she does handle their mail and, when given a cigarette lighter and told to burn the letters, is horrified by the callous act she must carry out. Margot steals a few letters, intending to send them in secret, only to find herself drawn to their heart-rending words of hope, of despair, and of love.

Together We Read is a free program that runs for two weeks and only requires a library card to get started. The Love That I Have can be read on all major computers and devices, including iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phones and tablets and Chromebook™ without wait lists or holds. The title will automatically expire at the end of the lending period, and there are no late fees. Visit http://christchurch.overdrive.com or download Libby to get started.

More information can be found at TogetherWeRead.com.

Dead Men’s WORDs

WORD Christchurch is back for 2018 and once again we have a programme chock full of amazing opportunities to revel in the goodness of the creative use of words.

There’s such a wide array of interesting stuff to highlight too…

Perhaps the biggest for me is the conversation with Irvine Welsh on Friday 31 August at the Isaac Theatre Royal (6pm-7pm). Welsh debuted in 1993 with the now-modern-classic Trainspotting, the story of a group of heroin users negotiating life in Leith, Scotland in the early 1990s.

He’s revisited these characters often with his 2016 book The Blade Artist focusing on Francis Begbie and his new life as a contemporary artist in California – a great read! And his new book, Dead Men’s Trousers, brings the whole crew back together in a more substantial way. There’s betrayal and payback, drug use and abuse, and of course a high level of coarse language and violence.

And with mixed feelings I realise that there’s some events in Dead Men’s Trousers too that, without giving any spoilers, makes me think that this might be the last we’ll see of these characters. There’s some loose ends tied off and some revelations about the future for some of them, and if it is to be the last then it’s a great way to send them off – here’s hoping that they will come back as ageing and maladjusted senior citizens at some point though, that’d be a hoot!

Scottish author Irvine Welsh (image supplied).

It will be great to hear Irvine Welsh’s take on the happenings of Britain recently; he has strong opinions and regularly shares them through his twitter account @IrvineWelsh

His 2018 WORD Christchurch talk does have a cost of $34/32 and it is only for an hour but I’m dead keen!

^DevilStateDan

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