Thursday, April 21, 2011

Keep it simple

I’m off to Pukemuri Beach (which is by Tora, which is by… nowhere, really) for Easter with a bunch of friends. We have a bach, we have firewood, we have wine and board games. What better way to celebrate the incomplete crucifixion of a quasi-historical figure who may or may not have resembled Russell Brand.

I jest, I jest.


Speaking of jesters, I recently devoured Katrina Best’s short story collection, Bird Eat Bird. Katrina won best first book for the Canada and Caribbean region of the Commonwealth Writers Prize and we’ll be hanging out in Sydney (and the Blue Mountains and Parramatta and and and…) in May.

Good thing I liked her book, eh?

I’ve previously declared my affection for slim short story volumes (despite the fact my own collection has been described as ‘thick’ and ‘the sort of book you might pick up at an airport bookstore’) and Bird Eat Bird exemplifies this type of book — closer in many ways to a collection of poetry than a novel.

There are only six stories and by the end of the book you feel you still have a handle on each story, can give a wee précis of the plot and recall its shining moments.

The stories are united by the wry tone and set-ups where the reader becomes more and more aware of the gap between a character’s perceptions of the world and the reality. In ‘Tall Food’, we slowly see how deluded Ellie’s hopes for a third date are. By the end of ‘Red’ we’ve figured out the narrator is off her meds (after much hilarity), though this has yet to dawn on her. In ‘At Sea’, Carol's struggles with the rip are foreshadowed such that her near-death experience seems inevitable and avoidable and wonderfully bathetic.

Next on the CWP reading list is Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance, which I just bought online (not so easy to get in NZ at the mo).


Speaking of online purchasing, when I did finally find a copy of That Deadman Dance that I could get delivered in New Zealand for a decent price, there was a nice wee surprise. On the front page of, A Man Melting is number 3 in their "Top 5".

Geek that I am I took a screenshot (who knows how long it'd stay on the list):

I’m not sure what the Top 5 represents (it can’t be linked to sales) but number 1 is Jean M Auel’s latest (minor co-inky-dink: there’s a reference to Auel's Clan of the Cavebear in ‘Facing Galapagos’ in AMM).


I believe most writers are as geeky about this sort of thing as I am, but they are cool enough to keep it to themselves.

And if they don’t get jazzed by seeing their name where they don’t expect it, then I question if they spent enough time as a reader, fan and worshipper of writers before being published.

One of my favourite things to do is look at the “Customers who bought this product also purchased” part on my book’s page on fishpond.

Right now, I’m regretting my Jesus reference above as someone who bought A Man Melting also bought Theology for Community of God.

Someone else (or perhaps the same person), bought Van Morrison’s CD, Keep It Simple (minor co-inky-dink II: the sleaze-ball in my story ‘Touch’ sings ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’).


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