cover of Julius HaastA list of well-known people who have died recently

  • Claudio Abbado, 1933-2014
    Shy but steely conductor who crafted some of the great performances of the last century
  • Percy Blandford, 1912-2014
    Canoe designer who got Britain boating with his post-war do-it-yourself designs
  • Colin Burrows, 1931-2014
    Former University of Canterbury ecologist who spent his life studying, protecting and teaching others about NZ’s native plant life
  • Elizabeth Jane Howard, 1923-2014
    Novelist who drew on her miserable childhood and spectacular misfortune with men
  • Michael Jacobs, 1952-2014
    Quixotic travel writer who celebrated the sounds and tastes of Spain and Latin America
  • Kenneth Rose, 1924-2014
    Telegraph columnist and historian who chronicled the Establishment with wit, style and occasional asperities
  • Thomas Rosenthal, 1935-2014
    Flamboyant publisher who also made his mark as art historian, broadcaster and connoisseur
  • cover for Pete Seeger at 89Pete Seeger, 1919-2014
    Godfather of folk music who was revered as the voice of political protest for more than half a century
  • Ariel Sharon, 1928-2014
    Israeli leader famed for bold, brash, ruthless manoeuvres both in politics and on the battlefield
  • James Siers, 1936-2014
    Pioneering Wellington photographer and writer

A list of well-known people who have died recently:

  • cover of Anthony Caro a life in sculptureAnthony Caro, 1924-2013
    Britain’s greatest sculptor who assumed the mantle of Henry Moore
  • Patrice Chereau, 1944-2013
    Film director and enfant terrible of the French theatre who staged a controversial production of Wagner’s Ring
  • Tom Clancy, 1947-2013
    American author and inventor of the techno-thriller who predicted 9/11
  • Nigel Davenport, 1928-2013
    Versatile actor whose magnetic gaze marked many memorable roles for stage, film and television
  • John Hopkins, 1927-2013
    British-born conductor who devoted 50 years of his career to music in Australia and New Zealand
  • Christopher Koch, 1932-2013
    Australian author best known for his 1978 novel, The year of living dangerously
  • Trevor Lummis, 1930-2013
    Social historian who drew on word of mouth to illuminate accounts of the past
  • Frederik Pohl, 1919-2013
    Publisher who launched Isaac Asimov’s career and then became a highly respected sci-fi writer himself
  • Mark Brandon Read, 1954-2013
    Notorious Melbourne criminal and author
  • Lou Reed, 1942-2013
    Rock and roll star with the Velvet Underground who influenced a generation of musicians

Books as a single entity are all very well, but I’ve been thinking lately about the individual words that make up the things I read.

cover of Outer Dark

Cormac McCarthy will do that to you. Pick up any of his books, from The Road, the 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner,  to No Country For Old Men, Suttree, and the two that are coming out as movies this year, The Counsellor and Child of God and there is a wealth of wondrous words throughout.

Then the sun buckled and dark fell like a shout – Outer Dark

I’m currently reading Outer Dark, written in 1968. It is set in the last part of the 19th century, as near as I can tell, and this bleak, gut wrenching book is filled with wonderful words that fit this period and I found myself writing some unknown words on my bookmark to check later in the dictionary. He is known for making up words and I love this about him, he feels unfettered by just the English language, despite having a rich love of it.

…the house was grown with a rich velour of moss and lichen and brooded in a palpable miasma of rot. – Outer Dark

It had me thinking about how each word crafted into a piece of writing adds to the whole, some you don’t notice, but some leave you amazed or confused or thoroughly impressed. Does Mr McCarthy for example, go hunting dictionaries for words that are obscure to colour this prose, or is he just incredibly well read? His turn of phrase and the pictures he conjures in my mind are just beautiful sometimes, well, often. I often hear myself saying words like ‘cool’, or ‘awesome’ out loud to myself as I read, obviously I don’t share his breadth and depth of language.

By day the banished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp – The Road

So I’ve compiled a little list of some of the discovered words from Outer Dark:

  • moiled - whirled or churned ceaselessly; twist; eddy.
  • penduluming: what a pendulum can be caught doing when it feels inclined to.
  • palmoutward- not a new word, he must have decided to run the two words together, just because he could.
  • malediction - the utterance of a curse.
  • recrements - refuse separated from anything; dross.
  • consubstantial -of one and the same substance, essence, or nature.
  • moonwraught – another lovely combo-word.
  • revenant - a person who returns as a spirit after death; ghost.

My two favourite words at present would have to plinth and moist, just for the way they sound when you say them.

McCarthy is rarely interviewed, avoids book tours or signings, and said about this:

I don’t think it’s good for your head, you spend a lot of time thinking about how to write a book, you probably shouldn’t be talking about it. You probably should be doing it.

Do you have favourite words, or authors whose use of language you find inspiring?

Photo of Lloyd JonesLloyd Jones is talking about A history of silence, his memoir, on Wednesday 11 September.  This is a Press Christchurch Writers Festival event at the Christchurch Arts Festival. I’m going and hopefully will see plenty of you are too.  Why? Because Lloyd is one of New Zealand’s top writers. And also because has written about us Christchurchy people and our earthquake experiences as well as himself.  Text Publishing says:

A History of Silence is a book about a country and a broken landscape. It’s about the devastation in Christchurch, after the 2011 earthquake. It’s about how easily we erase stories we find inconvenient.

Cover of Mister PipLloyd is also in the news as the movie version of his popular Mister Pip (starring Hugh Laurie) is about to hit cinemas.

I didn’t know we had an interview with him!

Do you have a nickname and if so what is it?
As a kid I was known as ‘Jones the bag of bones’!
What was your most embarrassing moment?
There are too many to remember. Covering Philip Rush’s Cook Strait swim as a reporter, and eating by mistake his bananas and biscuits rates highly.

I’d recommend also reading a pair of excellent recent interviews in The Age and The Press.

More Lloydia

PS The title of this post derives from a favourite song (by Camera Obscura) Lloyd, I’m ready to be heartbroken which is an answer song to Lloyd Cole’s Are you ready to be heartbroken? A whole lotta Lloyd.

cover of My music in London 1945-2000A list of well-known people who have died recently

  • John Amis, 1922-2013
    Musical impresario who worked with Myra Hess and Donald Swann and became a regular on My Music
  • Eydie Gorme, 1928-2013
    Singer who formed a successful double act with her husband Steve Lawrence
  • Elmore Leonard, 1925-2013
    Master of crime fiction who transcended the genre with novels such as Get Shorty, and, Glitz
  • Julie Harris, 1925-2013
    Actress of remarkable versatility whose six Tony Awards have not been equalled
  • Marian McPartland, 1918-2013
    Classically-trained, British-born pianist who made her name on New York’s jazz scene in the 1950s and presented a long-running jazz series on radio
  • cover of A river in the skyBarbara Mertz, 1927-2013
    American author who wrote under her own name as well as under the pseudonyms Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels
  • Cedar Walton, 1934-2013
    Pianist and composer behind some of the finest pieces in ‘hard bop’ jazz
  • Yoram Kaniuk, 1930-2013
    Jewish novelist who fought for the creation of Israel but did no like what the state went on to become

Cover of Traditional Molvanian baby namesWhen I eventually quit my day job and become an internationally-recognised award-winning author, one of the first things I think I will struggle with is what to name my characters. After all, much like when you name your own children, or pets, this is a decision you will be living with for a very long time. Not only does a name have to fit the character, it has to be memorable (but not in a bad way), believable, spellable (for all the glowing reviews), not have hidden meanings or unfortunate initials; and perhaps most importantly (and unlike real life where you really can name your first-born after great-great-uncle Ethelred), NOT belong to (or sound even vaguely like) any of your friends or relations.

I have been known to throw a book down in disgust if a character’s name is too annoying. This mainly happens when reading old-style fantasy or science-fiction novels, but can strike at any time. It can also extend to names of places, imaginary animals, food-type things …  the list of possible naming offences goes on and on. If a name is too hard to pronounce (because we all say them out loud at least once while reading a book), or looks odd on the page, or is just too similar to something familiar, it becomes distracting rather than enhancing, and as mentioned above, can lead to book-throwing tantys.

I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to pick names and know you’ve got them right. There are lots of helpful (and not so helpful) books and websites out there, but they are a slippery slope to time-wasting, so if you ARE searching for that perfect name for your dashing and romantic male lead, be careful – in just 2 minutes on one name generator site I came up with:

  • Jeb Deneau – mysterious romantic cowboy with slightly foreign past.  I’m thinking dark hair, slightly too long, blowing in the prairie breezes, and a pair of piercing green eyes that have seen things I cannot imagine.
  • Morris Weems – nervous accountant who never leaves the house/office, except to buy expensive medication for his ailing and elderly pet dog Mr Wuffles.
  • Bernie Rub – a mob enforcer with a dark and violent history, but also with a heart of gold.  And an ex-stripper girlfriend.
  • Johnathan Holiday – a dapper gentleman, lean in stature, with a propensity for linen suits and cigarillos. I’m unsure whether Johnathan will turn out to be a bad guy or a good guy.

A fantasy novel name generator offered a table of 119 names, all of which ended in ‘TH’, and made me feel like my front teeth had been knocked out.  I’m thinking QuehonathUhonyfth and Cheendoith may have to wait a while for their story to be told.

A Dungeons and Dragons page offered me Brawler Ricdak Dragonskin the Bloodblade, which sounds great, but would be a real bugger to use when filling out forms.  And this great blog post led to all sorts of other time-wasting too.

If you want to go the traditional route and use an actual book, check out our wide range of naming books in the library.  And if you want to read about what real authors do, have a look at some of the author interviews we’ve done over the years – heaps of them talk about how they name their characters and places.

What’s your perfect character name? Have you actually changed your own name? And if you’re a real author, share your character-naming secrets with us, please!  Elvira Nawnart, Xyratis Firestomp and I would be more than grateful.

Geez Wayne, if you are a Christchurch book lover September is your month!!! Crime writing superstar and forensic anthropologist Dr Kathy Reichs is here on 23 September. Book now, you don’t want to miss this one. Search our catalogue for her books, and we also have Bones on DVD (the TV series she produces starring the hardcase Temperance Brennan).

Cover of Bones are forever Cover of Flash and bones Cover of Code

And over at the Christchurch Arts Festival there is more writing and thinking to savour:

Search our catalogue for works by festival presenters and performers. Get yourself warmed up for a literary September.

Cover of Get off the grassCover of The Broken BookCover of From the big bang to GodCover of The fall of lightCover of With bold needle and threadCover of How to look at a painting

Search our catalogue for:

Cover of Field notes from a Hidden city.Esther Woolfson’s Field notes from a hidden city looks at the ecology of Aberdeen over a year. She uncovers the wildlife in an urbanised environment that is fascinating, enduring and can go unnoticed. She had previously written Corvus, an equally fascinating look at crows, many of which she’d adopted over the years.

A book that the publisher is touting heavily The Private War of J. D. Salinger is a biography of one of the most loved and most reclusive writers of our time.  It has apparently taken eight years to write and research and is linked to a documentary film Harvey Weinstein is  going to release at the same time the book is published.

Cover of The day the crayons quit.For something new from the CD collection try Shocking Miss Emerald by Caro Emerald. Caro cites the Andrews Sisters, Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday as her influences, although the context is very much a contemporary sound.

Wood Pallet Projects may not be the most exciting title of the month, but considering the fabulous work that ReKindle is doing then this book could generate many exciting projects.

I Saw A Peacock with A Fiery Tail is a lovely children’s book, deceptively simple, but with wonderful depth. It  illustrates a poem that gives different meanings depending on how it is read. One way of reading makes perfect sense, and the other leads to fantastic images.  A book to be enjoyed by adults and children alike.

Another children’s book that is not quite so sophisticated but will make a great read-aloud is The Day the Crayons Quit.  Duncan just wants to colour in, but when he opens the book the colours have all written him letters.  Beige is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown, Blue needs a break from colouring in all that water, while Pink Cover of Imperial Gothic.just wants to be used. Green has no complaints, but Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking to each other!  Very funny and great illustrations by Oliver Jeffers.

Imperial Gothic:  Religious Architecture and High Anglican Culture in the British Empire, C. 1840-70 is at first glance an imposing rather dry-looking book, but gives for those of you interested in the heritage of the ChristChurch Cathedral it provides great insight and worldwide context to it and a number of other Canterbury and New Zealand churches.

A list of well-known people who have died recently:

Hanly at Christchurch City Libraries“People are too new here and nature absorbs them.” Pat Hanly

This afternoon I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Ron Brownson, Senior Curator of New Zealand and Pacific Art at Auckland Art Gallery, about the work of artist Pat Hanly.

The talk was given in celebration of the publication Hanly, edited by Gregory O’Brien, which is arguably one of the best art books published this decade. Ron Brownson believes this book is ‘better than a TV programme, it is better than a TV series. It is a mini capsule of excitement.’

Ron Brownson at AWRF 2013Ron Brownson is a charismatic speaker. He quickly engaged his audience and treated us to a feast of Hanly’s paintings blown up on slides to the size of the gallery wall. He said, ‘If you’re going to have colour, you’re going to have a glut of colour’ and that was certainly what this art-starved Cantabrian needed. Vibrant blues, reds, greens and yellows filled the space, engaging the senses and lifting the spirit, as Brownson took us through the major series of Hanly’s art.

Auckland Art Gallery has just been bequeathed one of Hanly’s Showgirl Paintings and the curators are anxiously awaiting its arrival on New Zealand soil. It is a work ‘delicious in its sensuality’ containing the figure of a dancing girl which is Chimera-like in spirt. It will be a great addition to the Auckland Gallery collection.

Gil Hanly at AWRF 2013No man is an island, not even a painter, and it was wonderful to see Pat Hanly’s wife, Gil, taking photos for the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival. She added some interesting background information to the talk, in one instance filling us in on the events that led up to the painting Fire at Mt Eden. Warring gangs in the neighbourhood set fire to a house close to the Hanly home and the family watched as the flames leapt into the night. Although Hanly’s works are abstracted, they are of this world.

Some people say they don’t understand Hanly and Brownson believes he knows why:

‘They don’t understand about joy and happiness. (Hanly’s) painting is full of joy. It enjoys living.

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