Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The AUP anthology of NZ literature #7

Previous entries in this series here. And now Chris Else has a long – 2000 words or so – and typically thoughtful review in the latest issue of New Zealand Books. Not online yet (but it will be one day here) so I can’t link to it. Go and buy a copy. It is worth $10.50 of anyone’s money.

The review doubles as an article about anthologies, anthologising, and the social dynamics of our literary culture. It also covers warm butter, footballers sans shorts, and the scales in the Countdown fruit and veg department. Talk about wide-ranging. Talk about well-written.

It is too subtle a piece to summarise but I recommend it to anyone interested in this book or the New Zealand literary scene in general. It’s also amusing. Quote unquote on the literary elite:
Not all members are writers: publishers, reviewers, critics, friends, relatives and persons of no great judgement who have nevertheless managed to acquire an air of cultural authority all play their part.
We can all think of examples of the persons of no great judgement. I instantly thought of two septuagenarians, who would have instantly thought of me. 

Like most other reviewers Chris lists authors not included whom readers may feel had a claim: he suggests that they were not considered but I think it more likely that they were considered then rejected for whatever reason. All reviewers have offered their own lists but they largely overlap (I seem to be the only one rooting for Dick Scott, which baffles me). What struck me considering Chris’s list was something I was vaguely aware of but the thought had not come into focus until now. 

The book has a shocking anti-Yorkshire bias. The subtext is that the only good Yorkshireman is a dead Yorkshireman. Captain Cook is in, but living Yorkshire-born NZ authors Peter Bland, Russell Haley, Philip Temple and Chris Else himself are all out. Perhaps the editors are Lancastrian. I think we should be told.

This will probably be the last in this series on the anthology. I’m moving on to other things, not hanging about here waiting for the NZ Woman’s Weekly review.

This gets worse. A reader advises that another Yorkshire-born author with a claim was excluded: Phillip Mann. That’s five out of five. Coincidence? You be the judge.


Steve at Metro said...

Am not being ironic or whatever - I sincerely want to know, how do you spell "judgement"? Like that, as you do, twice, in the post? Or is it sans the initial "e", and should read: "judgment"?
Steve at Metro.

Fergus said...

Linking to wikipedia is beyond the pale here, so I wll quote: "In British English, the spelling judgment is correct when referring to a court's or judge's formal ruling, whereas the spelling judgement is used for other meanings."

Stephen Stratford said...

Thank you for not linking to Wikipedia, Fergus. We do try to maintain standards here.

What it says is right, though, and echoes my bible, the Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors - Steve, you should get a copy. It is no replacement for the big Oxford or for Chambers (my main dictionary) but it is the gold standard for stuff like this. Nice and compact, too.

Steve at Metro said...

Thanks a lot for that - illuminating. I wondered whether it was some sort of English/American dichotomy, like "colour" and the wretched "color".
Basically, then, when referring to the courts and that, I would spell "judgment"; in all other circumstances, "judgement", yeah? But hang on. Doesn't that mean "judgement" is spelled wrong in the two examples in the original post?

Steve at Metro said...

Tsk. Ignore previous latter question. Read Fergus's definition the wrong way around.

Stephanie said...

Good to know I am not the only one who can jump to conclusions!!!

And a great tip re writer's dictionary. Resorted to google inquiry vs enquiry this week for a colleague, only to hear she preferred 'en' anyway!