So it’s March, and March is apparently NZ book month. NZ Book month is apparently a way of promoting reading to the masses because, you know the masses they don’t do the reading thing so much, the masses are more about the watching of rugby and reality TV.
Now this is a fantastic and lofty goal which I wholeheartedly support, of course more people should be reading! I’m the last person who’ll knock any initiative to get people reading, given that I force books upon people who show the slightest weakness.
The problem I have with it is that rather than just trying to promote reading to people who may or may not be interested, given that it’s NZ Book Month shouldn’t it promote NZ books?
I read quite a lot but I don’t read a lot of New Zealand fiction. This isn’t because I’m biased against it or that I don’t like NZ Fiction, it’s because 1. New Zealand is a small country with a limited market so obviously marketing books that are mainly for a New Zealand market is an expensive exercise. 2. For reasons known only to book shops and publishing companies adult New Zealand Fiction has it’s own section rather than being in with general fiction. Children’s and YA books aren’t separated out like this, all books are mixed in together so Lynley Dodd’s Hairy McLairy books are mixed in with The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Margaret Mahy’s The Changeover is in with Twilight.
Surely NZ Book month could be used like NZ Music month is used – as an opportunity to promote work by New Zealanders. NZ Music month almost doesn’t need to exist anymore because New Zealand music is played on the radio all the time regardless of what time of the year it is. I’m sure New Zealand books are the same – they just need to be in the lime light a bit more.
So most people are back at work (not me, I’m an unemployed bum) and are struggling to remember what they were supposed to be doing. I know last year I was surprised to come back to a lot of applications for a job I forgot that I’d posted.
But to ease you all back into working life I have a couple of links to help you put off actually doing any work.
First up is one I discovered yesterday, Lousy Book Covers is a brilliantly terrible look at the, ahem, wonders of cover art among self published books. It’s quality like this that make me hesitant to self publish.
The other is an oldie but a goodie – David & Goliath have a range of clothing and stationary – Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them, they also have a game – which is lots of fun.
Today one of my favourite authors, Bryce Courtenay, died. He’d had cancer and it had been announced a month or so ago that he was terminally ill and that the book he was releasing (which was released last week) would be his last.
I’ve written on here before that I’m essentially like a drug dealer in that I force books on people and for years one book that’s been pressed on a lot of people has been The Power of One by Bryce Courtney has been high on the list of books that I pressed on people – probably just behind the Harry Potter Series (but then I’ve always said I’m from the evangelical wing of Harry Potter fans). Between lending out The Power of One to people and reading it repeatedly myself I’m now onto my second copy of the book.
If you’re not familiar with the book (don’t count the movie because huge liberties were taken with the story and apparently Bryce Courtenay hated the movie – which proves I’m right) it’s the story of PK who is an outsider – he’s sent to a boarding school as a 5 year old where he’s brutally bullied. He goes on to excel in everything with the idea that he could hide in the front then no one could touch him, set in South Africa in the 1940’s. It’s an amazing book with a really brilliant ending and any who hasn’t read it really should (but trust me don’t bother with the movie). The sequel Tandia is nearly as good as is Jessica.
I was lucky enough to meet Bryce Courtney when he was doing a book tour supporting the book Four Fires and he was a really lovely man, I told him I’d read all of his books (which I had at the time – I’ve got a bit of catching up to do) he said ‘Ah! I bet you haven’t read ‘The Family Frying pan’!’ when I told him that actually I had, he was genuinely surprised and apologised and said he usually caught people out with that one.
I still have his last two books to read so I’m lucky but I’ve been reading his books since my late teens and will miss reading new ones.
This week the programme Camelot started on New Zealand TV. Now I’m a long time fan of the Arthurian Legends and each time there’s a new adaptation I get my hopes up and tune in.
I recorded Camelot when it screened earlier in the week, and this afternoon sat down to watch it. It’s never a good sign when you start disagreeing with a TV Show before the titles you know you’re not in good shape.
The standard story of King Arthur goes like this – Arthur’s Dad Uther fancied this woman called Igraine, but there was a slight problem – she was already married. Rather than admit defeat Uther turned to his magician mate Merlin to do a few spells which would mean Igraine’s hubby was elsewhere fighting and Uther (disguised as Igrianes hubby) would go and have his way with her. Of course, as is the way in these things Arthur is conceived and Igraine and Uther marry. Igraine’s Daughters from her first marriage are sent away – Morgan Le Fay is sent to a convent and Morganna is married off. As part of the deal Merlin takes Arthur away at birth and has him raised so he’s able to be king.
Camelot decided that Morgan would be Uther’s daughter and Igraine’s step daughter, this is what had me yelling at the TV before the titles had played, I decided to give it a chance. I should have stopped then as it didn’t get any better, the completely unconvincing Arthur apparently had no idea that his foster parents weren’t his real parents. Even Joseph Fiennes who I love couldn’t save this and I didn’t even make to the half way point of the episode before deciding that I couldn’t stand this nonsense any longer.
I don’t understand why it’s practically impossible to make a screen adaptation which is consistent with the legend. The legend has lasted for around 1000 years, which is a pretty good indication that it’s a compelling enough story without changing things. Take Morgan Le Fay – she is traditionally out for revenge because her mother was essentially raped and forced into marriage by Uther who sent Morgan and her sister away. Those are pretty strong reasons for wanting revenge – changing the story so that Uther is Morgan’s father doesn’t make her story stronger it makes it weaker.
When I write my Arthur book (which I will one day) I hope that any screen adaptation actually gets the story right.
This weekend my flatmate’s mother was staying with us up from Christchurch for the weekend. My flatmate stayed in the office over the weekend, sleeping on the sofa bed. Of course as Nala practically lives in my flatmates room this threw her a bit, but she soon got used to sleeping in the office. In fact both last night and tonight she was waiting in the office for my flatmate. Of course tonight the bed has been pulled apart so Nala ended up looking like The Princess and the Pea:
This isn’t the only time that cats and literature have met in this house, there was the time Fonzie reenacted ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat:
And of course there’s Fonzie’s general love of books:
I’ve recently come to the conclusion that in a lot of ways I’m kind of like a drug dealer, one that really wants to get you hooked. The difference is that instead of trying to push drugs on people I push books on people.
If anyone shows the slightest weakness, shows the slightest interest in any genre of book I read and I’m in, pressing books on them, writing out recommendations. This goes double for people who are recent recruits to the worlds reading, if they’ve picked up a couple of books and enjoyed them I try and take advantage, get them reading more books, other books.
Most people who know me know that if I start trying to get them to read something it’s much easier to just read the damn book, because then I’ll go away and leave them alone. People who don’t know me so well haven’t wised up yet, they are willing to let me bang on about books a bit more, suckers.
And not just because I’ve had ‘Silver Bells’ stuck in my head for most of the afternoon.
Today was one of the very best kind of days, it was a day when books arrive in the mail. And really when you get more than one book in the mail, it’s definitely like Christmas, a very strange a skewed version of Christmas certainly, but Christmas none the less.
I almost feel like I’ve been given the books for free, because it’s taken ages for the books to get here from amazon UK. The last time Jasper Fforde released a Thursday Next book I had trouble sourcing it locally so I decided to make life easier for myself by ordering it directly from amazon and their stupid recommendation system (by stupid I mean alarmingly accurate) showed up another book by Jasper Fforde which I didn’t know was out and the last Artemis Fowl book.
Of course I did see the latest Thursday Next book in the shops – typical! Last time when I asked about ‘One of our Thursdays is Missing’ I got looked at like I was asking for The Illiad in it’s original Greek.
Of course the next question is which to read first?