Warm patrons of literature

It seems that in the early days of our city’s European history, it was very much the fashion for visiting luminaries to make a progression through the country, stopping at every town to meet the locals and be wined and dined.

NPG Ax18230; Anthony Trollope by London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company
Anthony Trollope by London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company, albumen carte-de-visite, 1870s NPG Ax18230 © National Portrait Gallery, London CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Anthony Trollope, who turns 200 this year, was one such celebrity, and passed through New Zealand in August 1872. He notes in a book about his travels that he visited every county and province except Hawke’s Bay. You can trace his journey through the country in Papers Past, a treasure-trove of archived newspapers dating from 1839 to 1948, although there is surprisingly little in the press about his visit to Christchurch – he seems to have arrived and left our city without much fuss at all. This is in contrast to some of his other appearances: he “and wife” attended the Queen’s Birthday Ball in Wellington; was the subject of a great deal of heated discussion around who was paying for his visit, and whether this payment was impacting politically on his writing; and disappointed Dunedinites by failing to attend a celebration of the anniversary of Sir Walter Scott, at which he had promised to speak.

The disappointment seems to have gone both ways, however. The book he wrote while here (rather creatively named Australia and New Zealand) is tucked away in our archives, but we have a copy of AH Reed’s book about Mr Trollope’s visit in the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre at Central Library Manchester. It’s full of pronouncements on our wee country, mostly political, and some quite scathing. Trollope described the trip from Waimate to Christchurch as being “an uninteresting journey as far as scenery is concerned”; advised “no young lady to go out to any colony either to get a husband, or to be a governess, or to win her bread after any so-called lady-like fashion”; and noted that the greatest fault of New Zealanders was that they were excessively keen on blowing their own trumpets, and that if the New Zealander “would blow his own trumpet somewhat less loudly, the music would gain in its effect upon the world at large”. Despite this, he did manage to redeem himself somewhat by complimenting us on our reading – while speaking at a banquet in his honour at the Northern Club he noted that ” … his own works, and those of other leading writers, were in every house he entered ..” and that there were “… more warm patrons of literature in the colonies in proportion to population, than in Great Britain.”

Reed’s book is well worth a read, if only to find a reason to feel self-defensively patriotic. And if you don’t feel like a bit of flag-waving, there’s always Trollope’s fabulous works of fiction to pick up and enjoy.

Cover of The Warden Cover of Barchester Towers Cover of Phineas Finn Cover of The Way We Live Now

Close your eyes – Michael Robotham is coming to Christchurch

Cover of Close your eyesChristchurch crime fiction fans are in for a treat when Michael Robotham, one of the best crime writers working, visits on Wednesday 26 AugustHe’s coming to Christchurch with his latest book, Close Your Eyes, but he’s got an impressive back list. His books Shatter and Lost won the Ned Kelly Award for Australia’s Crime Novel of the Year – good old Australia – a Crime Novel Award named after a criminal.

Shatter and The Night Ferry were shortlisted for the Crime Writer’s Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award; Say You’re Sorry and Life and Death made it to the shortlist for the Crime Writer’s Golden Dagger Award. We’ll have to wait until September to see if Life and Death wins.

I always like a crime writer who started as a journalist. Even better if they started as a cadet rather than doing a post-graduate degree in Journalism (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It’s just that writers who have had to distill the facts of a story into a small space jostling with lots of other stories know how to grab your interest. And I fondly imagine cadets learning their craft by having their copy scrutinised by cynical hard-bitten reporters squinting through the smoke from the fag permanently attached to their lips. Probably an image that was way out of date when Michael Robotham was working on evening newspapers. If it was ever true. Perhaps I’ll ask him when he comes to Christchurch. I also have a question about going to school in Gungadai.

Event details

An evening with Michael Robotham
Wednesday 26 August 6pm to 7.30pm
South Library
Free event, complimentary tickets can be picked up from South Library or Paper Plus Northlands Mall. Books will be available for purchase courtesy of Paper Plus. For more info or to reserve tickets please call Kathryn Hartley Ph: 03 941 6649 or email:kathryn.hartley@ccc.govt.nz

Michael Robotham: ghosting and crime Michael on Saturday Morning with Kim Hill, Radio New Zealand National, 15 August.

Hear Graham Beattie’s review of Close your eyes on Nine to Noon, Radio New Zealand National, 12 August.

Cover of Life or Death Cover of Watching you Cover of Say you're sorry Cover of Bombproof Cover of Lost

Budgie Manor – Community Read of Magpie Hall

Part One of our Community Read of Magpie Hall by Rachael King was tea and tales (and cake) on Friday morning.

Part Two on Friday evening was a night of improv and laughs. South Library was the venue, and there was a good-sized crowd.

Community Read audience

We had a nice introduction from Rachael, Councillor Phil Clearwater, and Libraries Manager Carolyn Robertson.

Then it was onto the comedy. The two improvvers were very clever, making good use of some props, wordplay, and guest appearances from the audience. Magpie Hall became Budgie Manor in a variety of fast and furious skits, and roars from the audience peppered the show.

Improv - Community Read

The night ended with some book prizes being given out, and book signings.
Rachael King signs copies

Plus a little more cake.
Cake

See our photos of the Community Read events and Magpie Hall displays.

Countdown to National Poetry Day 2015

National Poetry Day 2015 logoPens to paper (or fingers to keyboard)! There is only one month until National Poetry Day on Friday 28 August. Several poetry competitions are currently open but with submission dates that end in the next few weeks (with winners generally being announced on National Poetry Day).

There are several nationwide poetry competitions this year as well as one for Christchurch poets.

Nationwide Poetry Competitions

Christchurch Poetry Competition

Hagley Writers’ Institute National Poetry Day Competition – Open to current and previous students at Hagley Writers’ Institute. (Submission Dates: 25 July – 7 August 2015)

Christchurch Poetry Event

0800 Muse – Kickstarting the poem: A public workshop to get you in touch with your muse. Open to all. Meet at 1oam for morning tea. The workshop will run from 10.30am-12pm, followed by the announcement of The Hagley Writers’ Institute National Poetry Day competition winners and celebratory readings from competition winners, Frankie McMillan (judge), Kerrin P Sharpe, Christina Stachurski, Bernadette Hall and more.

Date: Saturday 29 August, 10am – 1pm

Place: The Writers’ Block, Hagley College, Hagley Avenue.

Bookings: Registration required. Register by August 27th. For further information and workshop registration contact Morrin Rout, Director – Hagley Writers’ Institute. email writers@hagley.school.nz, (03) 329 9789 or 021 046 4189

Poetry Resources

Need inspiration? Check out our poetry resources

2015’s Community Read with local author Rachael King

Community Read 2015 Magpie Hall

2015: One book, one community

Magpie Hall by Rachael King

This August, Christchurch City Libraries invites you to read, share and discuss Magpie Hall by Rachael King.

Unlimited copies of the Magpie Hall eBook will be available to borrow for the whole of August from our Wheelers eBook platform! Thanks Wheelers and publishers Penguin Random House.
Reserve now.

Take a walk with us on the dark side, as we explore family secrets, taxidermy, Victorian tattooing, and Gothic novels.

I absolutely loved this book. It had a wonderfully familiar setting in the Canterbury foothills somewhere, mixing family history mysteries with the pressures of modern life. I was spellbound.

Magpie Hall by Rachael KingFind out more

Community Read 2015 author talk

Book Chat, Tea and Tales with award-winning author Rachael King
Friday 7 August At South Library
11am to 12pm

Community Read 2015 Performance

Join the Court Jesters as they improvise themes from Magpie Hall
Friday 7 August at South Library
7.30pm to 9pm

For more information phone (03) 941 5140

Remembering a wonderfully wacky Word Witch

Margaret Mahy 1936-2012

Three years ago today Margaret Mahy our favourite award winning author, writer, librarian, mother and grandmother died.

Take time to remember.

Read MM picture books – here’s a few to get started with …

Down the back of the chairBoom, Baby Boom BoomDashing DogBubble TroubleA Lion in the MeadowLeaf Magic

Young Adult reads

The changeoverKaitangata Twitch24 HoursThe Tricksters

Get to know MM

Margaret MahyMarvellous CodeNotes of a Bag LadyMy Mysterious World

Do what Margaret enjoyed – read, walk around the garden and have a sleep (apparently she could do this quite easily). Don’t walk down Cambridge Terrace though, or at least make sure your trousers stay up when you do.

Have a MM lunch – a salad sandwich made with wholemeal bread and cheese and tomato and lettuce and spring onions, and avocado and hard-boiled egg and anything else handy.

I’m going to remember Margaret by driving over the winding hill to Governors Bay and then wandering along the wiggly track at the bottom of the road. I won’t be alone. I’m taking a dashing dog, a bubble trouble baby, a gaggle of geese, a couple of mixed-up pirates, a librarian, a three legged cat, a boy with two shadows, a tin can band, a dragon, a lion and of course a witch.

Our procession will be one of nonstop nonsense, full of mischief and mayhem. A magical way to remember Margaret Mahy.

 

Meet Kids Book Award Finalists at Shirley Library

Are you a young writer who wants to improve your writing? Do you love to meet authors and hear how they write their books?  We’ve got two events coming up at Shirley Library just for you!

On Saturday 8 August Shirley Library will be hosting some of the wonderful authors who are finalists in this year’s New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Karen Healey is a finalist in the main book awards and both Desna Wallace and Natalie King are finalists in the Children’s Choice Award. There are two events for kids and teens that you can come along to for FREE:

  • Writing Workshop with Karen Healey, 10:30am-12:00pm, Saturday 8 August – Join Karen Healey, author of While We Run, for a young adult writing workshop. Recommended for ages 10+.
  • Fast Track Fiction, 5:00-6:00pm, Saturday 8 August – Join Karen Healey, Joanna Orwin, Desna Wallace and Natalie King as they unlock the secrets of their success as writers. Recommended for ages 10+.

You need to book for both of these events but they are free. To book phone 03-941-7923.

You might like to read the finalist books from these wonderful authors so check these out:

Shifting points of view – WORD Christchurch 30 August and 7 September 2015

Shifting points of view gives you a bumper crop of sessions  from top writers and commentators. It’s WORD Christchurch’s part of the Christchurch Arts Festival and is guaranteed to warm the cockles of your enquiring mind.

There are five sessions on Sunday 30 August – it’s practically a mini-bookfest. Patricia Grace, Anna Smaill, Paula Morris, and Fiona Farrell are among the Kiwi writers on show, and also international writers Jesse Bering (talking about perversion, no less) and Suki Kim about North Korea. And on Monday 7 September there are two evening sessions – one on altruism, and one with novelist Sarah Waters – author of The Paying Guest and Tipping the Velvet. Blimey.

WORD authors WORD Christchurch authors WORD Christchurch authors

Our approach is to show off what’s on offer, but also to link to our catalogue so you can get reading. And book your tickets, because things do sell out! You can either pay $20 per session or buy a $115 Shifting Points of View pass, on sale NOW.

Here’s the programme in full:

Sunday 30 August

Cover of Chappy10am On Belonging: Patricia Grace and Paula Morris

…  Patricia Grace explores issues that permeate New Zealand history and society: racial intolerance, cross-cultural conflicts and the universal desire to belong. Spanning several decades and set against the backdrop of a changing New Zealand, Chappy is a story of enduring love. She discusses her work with Paula Morris, whose On Coming Home explores similar themes of nostalgia, memory and belonging …

Find works in our catalogue by:

Cover of The Villa at the edge of the empire12pm Imaginary Cities: Fiona Farrell, Anna Smaill, Hamish Clayton, Hugh Nicholson, chaired by Lara Strongman

Taking the Christchurch blueprint as a starting point, this panel will look at ways in which we imagine cities, either in fiction, in history, or in contemporary life; whether as utopias or dystopias, cities imagined or reimagined.

Find works in our catalogue by:

Cover of The Struggle for sovereignty2pm The Struggle for Sovereignty: Margaret Wilson

Margaret Wilson argues that the shift to a neo-liberal public policy framework has profoundly affected the country’s sovereignty and that New Zealanders must continue to engage in the struggle to retain it for the sake of individual and community wellbeing.

Find works in our catalogue by Margaret Wilson

Cover of Without you, there is no us4pm On North Korea: Inventing the Truth: Suki Kim, chaired by Paula Morris

A glimpse inside the mysterious closed-off world of North Korea, a country where a military dictatorship exploits the myth of a Great Leader to its own citizens, who are “imprisoned in a gulag posing as a nation”.

Find works in our catalogue by Suki Kim.

Cover of Why is the penis shaped like that?6pm On Perversion: Jesse Bering

Jesse Bering argues that we are all sexual deviants on one level or another. He challenges us to move beyond our attitudes towards ‘deviant’ sex and consider the alternative: what would happen if we rise above our fears and revulsions and accept our true natures? (Adult themes)

Find works in our catalogue by Jess Bering

Monday 7 September

Cover of The most good you can do6pm On Effective Altruism: Peter Singer, chaired by Eric Crampton

Effective altruism requires a rigorously unsentimental view of charitable giving, urging that a substantial proportion of our money or time should be donated to the organisations that will do the most good with those resources …

Find works in our catalogue by Peter Singer

8pm Crimes of Passion: Sarah Waters, chaired by Carole Beu

Sarah Waters’ hugely inventive novels usually have lesbian relationships at their heart, and are always set in the past, when remaining true to oneself came at great personal risk.

Find works in our catalogue by Sarah Waters

Cover of The Paying Guest Cover of Fingersmith Cover of The Little Stranger Cover of Tipping the velvet

Happy 80th birthday Caxton Press

A Caxton MiscellanyThe Caxton Press is 80 today.  It was launched on 10 June 1935 by John Drew and poet/typographer Denis Glover to publish New Zealand literature. Leo Bensemann had a long and fruitful association as a designer and illustrator with Caxton. Most of the decade’s best writers were first published by the company. Caxton Press tells the story on its website:

THE CAXTON CLUB was a colourful group of students, writing enthusiasts and amateur printers which operated a small printing press in the basement of the University Clock Tower, Worcester Street, in the early 1930s. In 1935, renowned New Zealand literary figure Denis Glover, together with a partner, borrowed £100 for a new press and formed The Caxton Press. They set up in an old wooden shop at 129 Victoria St where they stayed for fifteen years.

In 2013, Central Library Peterborough hosted A Caxton Miscellany – a Christchurch Art Gallery exhibition (see our photos).

A Caxton Miscellany
A Caxton Miscellany, Saturday 16 February 2013. Flickr: CCL-2013 -02-16-IMG_3708

One of the gems of our digital collection are The Group Catalogues, 1927 — 1977 as printed by Caxton Press. You can see their exquisite work closeup in these digital copies.

Cover of 19521953 copy of The Group catalogueCover of 1955Cover of 1958Cover of 1965

More on the Caxton Press

Denis Glover, founder of Caxton Press, with Book Week display in Alexander Turnbull Library. Further negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1963/3385/9A-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23233944
Denis Glover, founder of Caxton Press, with Book Week display in Alexander Turnbull Library. Further negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1963/3385/9A-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23233944

The Northern Frights

It’s wintertime and darkness is falling
Crime is thriving and the body count’s high.
Your neighbour’s dead
and your boss is in prison
So hush your mouth or you might die.

Cover of Last RitualsThis pretty much covers it if you read or watch Scandi Noir (Dark Scandinavian fiction) which, unlike those early raiders from Northern Europe, has quietly snuck into our consciousness. The translators have been busy and we’ve got Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish books and DVDs on our shelves for those keen to part company with their wits. Up to now my fave mystery writers have been British for a bit of the dastardly, but I love a bit of scarily dark and god knows these people seem to spend a lot of their time in deep blackness, so no wonder they’re good at maliciously murderous moments mostly occurring in the long, long nights. These days it’s Håkan Nesser, Jo Nesbø, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Karin Fossum, Åke Edwardson that have me peeking through the curtains, locking the doors…

Cover of Frozen TracksStieg Larsson‘s Millennium series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc) were the books that initially took me over to the dark side. In Swedish unsurprisingly the original title was Men Who Hate Women. Undoubtedly nasty, but utterly readable and unputdownable. There is a good reason they shot to number one in the bestseller lists. The main character, Lisbeth, a survivor, does her damnedest to balance out the injustices done to women in this series. I was rooting for her the whole way through. They’re violent but I still fully recommend them if you haven’t already been tempted. This despite being a complete wimp who would normally hide under the bed from such fiction.

Cover of The Girl with the Dragon TattooIf you don’t mind subtitles (and the brain adapts remarkably quickly to reading the screen and watching at the same time), The Killing could keep you awake for a while. But for me The Bridge is the best. Only two series so far. A body is discovered on the exact half way mark on the bridge between Sweden and Denmark, which brings in a police team from each country. Good characterisation of the cops and the villain, and the storyline moves well with twists enough for me to have accused all and sundry of being the murderer. I’m hoping like mad there will be a third. Excellent entertainment.

Not scary, but equally entertaining is a Danish TV political series, Borgen. Never dry, it’s a behind the scenes machination of several political parties and their leaders jostling for the best position and attempting to form a government after an election too close to call. Birgitte Nyborg, leader of one of the small parties, becomes the first woman Prime Minister of Denmark. A tough job and hard on the family life and relationships. She is dealing with crises, making policy, pondering who to trust, and handling the media. It certainly rang bells as we watched our various small parties jockeying to be the party that joins the big guys in Government. Compulsive viewing once you get who’s who, and what they want, sorted out.

Do you like your books and viewing slightly chilling and grisly? Is your current reading and watching becoming a bit tame? Fancy seeing something of Scandinavia (mostly in the dark)? Check out these titles and let me know what you think. Any other books / authors in the Scandi Noir genre that you’d recommend?