Friday, February 10, 2012

What I’m reading

Don’t miss the story on pages 26-27 (not online) of this week’s NZ Woman’s Weekly, the Valentine’s Day special edition: it features the wedding of the year, between Kevin Ireland and Janet Wilson. It was a wonderful occasion: the bride was radiant and so was the groom. There were at least six other poets among the guests – I counted Bland, Brown, Ensing, Harlow, O’Sullivan and Stead and there may well have been more. There were also ukuleles, posh frocks and, over dinner, brilliant speeches. A very good time was had by all. (The photos, including the one above, are uncredited but I think they are by Gil Hanly.)
The story is now online here.

Linda Olsson, my favourite NZ-Swedish novelist, tells me that last month she sold an option on the film rights to her second novel, Sonata for Miriam (known in some countries as The Consequence of Silence). This is excellent news:  Maurice Shadbolt told me that he made more money from selling and reselling options to his novel Season of the Jew (which was never filmed) than he ever made from selling copies of the book, and he sold truckloads of those. More New Zealand novels have been filmed than I’d thought – a quick flick came up with Came a Hot Friday, The Scarecrow, Pallet on the Floor, Predicament (i.e. all four of Ronald Hugh Morrieson’s novels), The Vintner’s Luck, Mr Pip, Sons for the Return Home, Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree, The God Boy, Sleeping Dogs, Hang on a Minute Mate!, The Silent One, Other Halves, The Quiet Earth, Among the Cinders, In My Father’s Den, A Soldier’s Tale, Alex, Once Were Warriors, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?, Heaven, The Insatiable Moon and now Anthony McCarten’s novel Death of a Superhero is in the works. There must be more – what have I missed?

Nick Cohen, author of You Can’t Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom, in the Literary Review:
It is a mistake to think of repression as repression by the state alone. In much of the world it still is, but in Britain, America and most of continental Europe the age of globalisation has done its work, and it is privatised rather than state forces that threaten freedom of speech.
Too much information: the Economist urges us to forget.

Detailed support for the Stratford Theory of Numbers. Money quote:
“It should be a compulsory part of a trainee journalist's education because people mislead all the time with numbers, or mislead themselves with numbers. I think a healthy scepticism, a healthy doubt, an inquiring mind and some modicum of technical ability is a basic requirement.”
Well, you’d think so.

More stats from StatsChat, critiquing the Sunday Star-Times front-page lead story of 5 February about selling farms to overseas buyers. I liked it because it ran counter to the received “wisdom”, but StatsChat found fault with the presentation: the comments there are good too. But I don’t believe the Luxembourg number – surely this reflects a buyer or buyers registered but not necessarily based there.

Caption of the month, from Jan Banning’s book Bureaucratics, via David Thompson:
Marlene Abigahit Choque (1982), detective at the Homicide Department of the Potosi police. The department has only broken typewriters, no computer, no copy machine, not even telephone. It shares a car with the Vice Squad: “If there is no petrol in the car, we have to buy it from our own money. If the car is gone, we take the bus. We have to pay the tickets ourselves.” The head on the cupboard to the right is used to make witnesses of murder cases show where the bullets went in or out.
Monthly salary: 920 bolivianos ($114)
Niru Ratnam writes in the Spectator about “the manipulation of the contemporary art market”:
‘Contemporary art used to be of interest to the upper-middle-class with slightly progressive leanings who wanted to buy work of their time,’ said my anonymous London-based collector. ‘Now it is of interest to a status-quo-leaning, conservative group of high-net-worth individuals. It makes contemporary art a whole lot less interesting.’
It can’t happen here:

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