Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Worksheet #55: Summer readin', havin' a blast

I'm back in Wellington after spending Christmas (and a bumpy Boxing Day) in Christchurch and more recently time with my whanau in Palmerston North.

It was nice yesterday to go out and buy three copies of this week's Listener, which is the annual 'Summer Reading' issue: one for my mum, one for my gran and one for the pool room (actually my filing cabinet).

The issue features fiction and poetry by Mary MacCullum, Alison Wong, Sarah Jane Barnett, Wes Lee, Sam Hunt, Luna Rushdi, Chris Price, Isobel Gabites, Nicholas Reid, Tim Wilson and little ole me.  The story of mine is 'My Yale and My Harvard', which I mentioned on this blog a couple of times while I was writing it (see 9 June, 16 June, 3 August).

A story by the same name (and author!) was runner up in this year's BNZ Literary Awards (see blog post from 4 November), but the version in the Listener has a different (i.e. improved) ending, so it's not really fair to compare this 'My Yale and My Harvard' with the winning story, 'Furniture' by Wes Lee, which just so happens to precede it in the magazine, and draw any conclusions about the judging of the BNZ Literary Awards...


Playlist for the day before going back to work

Side one

Box Tops - The Letter
Stephen Malkmus - Death and the Maiden
Kyuss - Demon Cleaner
OK Go - What to Do


On my Listener buying expedition I also needed to buy a copy of my own book for my gran to post to her brother in Nelson. Since July, I have been known to pop into bookstores and check out the C's in the NZ section. Frequently I'm disappointed. It didn't help that the Red Group (Whitcoulls and Borders) and Random House had some tiff which meant the stores wouldn't stock new titles till mid September. I'm not sure it matters either way as I've only ever seen copies of A Man Melting at the Whitcoulls in Wellington airport.

So it was with trepidation that I set out to find a copy in my hometown. I knew of relatives who'd found copies in Paper Plus (in the old McDonalds on the Square - a truly magical place to a Palmy child of the late 80's) and Bruce MacKenzies beneath the Library. Unfortunately there were no copies at either store. I may be biased, but these stores are missing a trick: hometown boy, book less than six months old, on the Listener's and Sunday Star Times' best books of 2010 lists, new story in that week's Listener… On the other hand, it's nice to know that howevermany copies they did stock have been sold.

To my surprise, Marbecks, which I'd always thought was more of a music and DVD store, had the best selection of NZ Fiction in town, including two copies (now one left) of A Man Melting. They had a pretty good selection of other books too. So props to Marbecks.

For those of you with book tokens burning a hole in your pocket and who don't yet own a copy of A Man Melting (gwon, you know you want one), the best bet is your local independent book store. I know Unity Books in Wellington still have a stack. If you can't find it on the shelves in your chosen store, ask at the counter - they can definitely order it in.

The easiest option by far, however, is to order online (not always an option if you're going down the book tokens route). I highly recommend fishpond.co.nz, from whom I've bought a number of books and video games this past year. Note: the link (and the other links from the book covers on the sidebar to the right) are affiliate links, which means I get a slice of the action if you purchase something from fishpond. Just letting you know that. It's a bit weird that if you buy A Man Melting after clicking on the link, I'll earn more from pointing you to fishpond than from royalties for actually writing the book. Oh what a tangled interweb we weave.


Side Two

The Kinks - Sweet Lady Genevieve (a 'forgotten' Ray Davies gem)
Powderfinger – D.A.F.
Credence Clearwater Revival - Long as I Can See the Light
Bob Dylan - Make You Feel My Love (no Dylan version on YouTube at present, but here's Adele's cover)


2011 is going to be carnage, I can feel it. A wedding to plan (date set for 26 November), a book to write, a full-on project to keep on track at my day job, columns to fill every fortnight until I get shitcanned, a trip to Vietnam in March (part holiday, part wedding dress purchasing trip, part travel writing stimulus), a North Island Road trip with my German friends in December... Looks like I'll have to stick to my 5am starts on weekdays to fit the writing in.


Side Three

Gomez - Devil Will Ride
Plan B - Prayin'
Jann Arden - Insensitive
The Weakerthans - Sounds familiar


Things that happen after eleven days off work

Ironing shirts seems like cruel and unusual punishment
You consider taking jandels to slip on at lunchtime
You consider calling in sick
You're sure you've forgetten your work login
You consider never going in to work again
You've forgotten which of your workmates were going away, and where they were going
You've lost interest in your workmates
You go in to work; everyone talks about the weather.
You really have forgotten your work login but you also forgot that you knew you'd forget and left a handy post-it inside your drawer
Your eyes need to reconfigure themselves for squares and rectangles
You struggle to spell 'grammar', let alone employ it
You expect to be fed every two hours


Side Four

The National - Available
Spoon – The Way We Get By
Nada Surf – Blizzard of 77
REM – South Central Rain
The Zombies – She's Not There

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