Monday, February 7, 2011

Sunday 6 February: a review

6:16am: Wake up with Black Eyed Peas looping in my head. Feel queasy. Worry about the car, left in Pipitea Street since midday Saturday. Sigh: Sevens.

11:21am Have late breakfast / early lunch of 2 minute noodles. Discover many bruises which have yet to colour on upper arm, backs of knees, top of foot. Sevens.

11:58am: Take bus to town. Car still there (phew) and no parking tickers under the wipers (double phew). Go in to work for two hours. Write a fantastic paper on "lessons learned" which has nothing to do with drinking. Decide work would be improved with simple addition of jandals.

3:12pm: Have a second lunch of spaghetti and cheese toasties while watching Angels and Demons. Could it possibly, be worse than The Da Vinci Code?

3:13pm: Yes it could.

5:18pm: Check my emails. Check facebook. Check twitter. Gosh, people sure do tweet a lot. Scroll, scroll, scroll. Notice a tweet from @modernletters:
"An electrifying new voice on the NZ writing scene" - Craig Cliff reviewed in today's NZ Herald #betterlatethannever
5.19pm: Return to lounge. Tell fiancee, brother and temporary flatmate I need to go buy a paper. Brother says he's going out shortly and can get one for me.
Me: Where are you going? (meaning: How long do I have to wait for the paper?).
Him: To [insert name of recently broken-up with ex-girlfriend]'s.
Me: Oh.
[Insert awkward male conversation which skirts around things and where I refer to custody battles for non-existent kids in jest].

5:49pm: Look at watch. Regret not going to get a paper myself. Look up @modernletters tweet again. An electrifying new voice...

7:32pm: Eat dinner (tofu stirfy) and watch the second half of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Decide it's the worst one yet. (Note: I've never read the books and only started watching the movies a fortnight ago because I had a sudden interest in magic…).

8:18pm: Brother arrives home. Don't make flippant comments about custody battles. Flick through the sections of the paper looking for the magazine lifouts. Find Canvas and Weekend. One is shiny the other is not. Think: I hope it's in the shiny one. Flick through Canvas, starting 3/4 of the way through. Find review of A Man Melting next to review of a John Irving novel. Read caption beneath photo of author: "John Irving loses the plot with too many layers this time." Feel better in the knowledge that John Irving has been panned and somewhere in my review there will be the phrase "electrifying new voice".

8.19pm: Consider my review. First thought: the photo of the book cover could be larger. Next: check who wrote the review. Paula Green. Think this is nice, seeing as how I'm currently reading 99 Ways into New Zealand Poetry.

Start reading. First sentence contains the line about "an electrifying new voice." Wonder if it will be all downhill from here. Consider the possible ways being an electrifying voice could be a bad thing. Consider electric shocks, shock treatment, lobotomies. Consider reference to scene in one of my stories where a boy is forced to chew tinfoil; "reading Craig Cliff's stories is much like being forced to chew tinfoil, his shrill, electrifying voice eradicates any semblance of meaning."

Read second paragraph. Things have not taken a turn for the worse, yet. There's reference to food and wine. Consider possible directions food and wine references could lead. Blandness. Mis-matched ingredients. Unappetizing menu. Consider references to food and wine in A Man Melting. A smiling grapefruit, reheated pasta, a scene between a homeless man and a tourist in Ecuador involving exotic fruit. Notice mention of "delectable aftertaste."

8:20pm Read the rest of the review. Re-read the review to make sure you didn't just glaze over the negative bits they include in to reviews to add balance. Decide this review is wonderfully imbalanced. Proclaim: This is probably the best review yet to fiancee, brother and temporary flatmate. Temporary flatmate has disappeared. Brother grunts. Fiancee says, I want to read it, but remains in the kitchen.

8:21pm Re-read the review. Relish the phrases, "Perfectly formed, stand-alone gems", "satsifying harmonies",  "inspired overlaps", "the fundamental core that weds humanity to strangeness and insight".

8:22pm Place Canvas carefully down on the coffee table, open to the page where John Irving is panned and Paula Green compares A Man Melting to a good wine cellar, "to be drunk now for zest and freshness and to be saved for later for enduring complexity and character." Go to office and check if the review is on the Herald's webpage. Run through promotional checklist: tweet, facebook update (personal page and A Man Melting's page), blog post, add review quote on homepage of and a link to the review under "Reviews".

8:23pm Find the review is not online yet. Read blogs about the Sacramento Kings.

8:43pm Return to lounge. Discover interesting docu-drama on Waitangi Day on TV1.

8:50pm Ad-break. Ask if anyone's read the review yet. No, not yet.  Pick up Canvas and have another skim. Note individual stories mentioned: 'A Man Melting', 'The Sceptic's Kid', 'Copies', 'Manawatu'. Feel sorry for those stories never mentioned in reviews. Consider writing a better story featuring Bembe Hernandez, Rachael Dawn and Laura the hitchhiker killer that reviewers can't help but praising.

9:01pm Watch as brother picks up Canvas and reads review. Slowly. Man, is that how slow people always read?

9:08pm Fiancee reads review. Makes fake surprised sounds. It is a good review, isn't it?

9:12pm Brush teeth.

9:14pm Climb in bed. Think about lessons learned paper. Forgot to mention we've already committed to Cabinet that we'd implement changes to the next tranche of projects. Remember two tenders close tomorrow and proposals need to be assessed by 2pm Thursday. Consider calling in sick and watching Superbowl with friends who work nightshift. Remember Official Information Act Request that needs responding to. Remember Qualitative Benefits discussion paper that needs review. Realise I'm clenching my teeth. Remember I am an electrifying new voice on the New Zealand Writing Scene. Savour the delectable aftertaste.

NZ Herald review of A Man Melting, Canvas Magazine, 6 February 2011.
Answers to the quiz questions included for Jeopardy-lovers.


Footnote: The review has now been posted on the Herald's website... Social network spamming: engage!

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