Sunday, October 28, 2012

Another land, another land

I come from Palmerston North

So Thursday night at Te Manawa for the launch of Palmerston North City Council's Creative Giants website was interesting. Actually, it was pretty boring and felt like I had wasted my time driving up there to sit and listen to speeches and music for 90 minutes before the free wine started flowing... Which is interesting, but for the wrong reasons.

Better to just have stayed home, read James Brown and let the internet do the talking.

All foreigners ashore

It took a while, but my contributor's copy of Ein anderes Land: Short Storys aus Neuseeland arrived on Friday. (The original copy got sent to my old address and the new tenants are useless and lost/ate that package.)

My story, 'Copies', has transformed into 'Kopien'. This is the second of my stories to be translated after 'Offshore Service' got the Spanish treatment back in April.

Turns out my traveller's German is even shakier than my traveller's Spanish, so I can't make any pronouncements about the quality of the translation, but there is something distinctly unwelcoming to the uninitiated about all those big words...

The first sentence: "Das Leben ist eine Aneinanderreihung unvollkommener Wiederholungen." ("Life is a series of imperfect repetitions.")

There are, of course, some glorious words in the language.

Sammelband - omnibus
dunkles - dark
Ursprungsmoment - original moment
Papier geschnitten - papercut

As they say, you've got to take the Wiederholungens with the geschnittens.

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (novel, audiobook)

True History of the Kelly GangYeah, this was a good book. A top ten read of 2012 most likely. The audiobook took a bit of getting used to as the narrator didn't go for much in the way of differentiating characters' voices in dialogue (and decided part way through to make Mary Hearn sound more Irish). I also spent too much time wondering how Australian Ned Kelly would actually sound.

But there are advantages of receiving a text like THotKG aurally. Carey's Ned Kelly writes in a comma-less tidal wave, and with the audiobook you have no choice but to keep up with him.

Carey's way of breaking up the narrative by describing the various packages that Kelly's account comes in (the conceit is that this true history is archived somewhere in Melbourne) is pretty canny. In fact, the whole thing is canny.

At the conclusion of the novel, there's an interview with Carey. The interviewer is a bit useless (at one point she asks Carey if he would like to talk about any of his other books and you can hear Carey think what an effing terrible question; she also mentions his busy schedule about 900 times: dude's a writer, he's got a spare half an hour to talk about himself) but Carey has plenty of interesting stuff to say.

In particular, I was struck by his description of the life of Ned Kelly, in the popular (Australian) consciousness as being a collection of well-known moments (the killings at Stringybark Creek, the robberies at Euroa and Jerilderie, the shootout at Glenrowan), but the rest of his life was a dark, or at least dimly-lit, field. Carey saw the task of his novel as illuminating these darker parts of Kelly's life while still bringing the story into the spotlight at the expected moments.

No comments: