Taken at 6pm on New Year’s Eve, for this is the season of pleasure and self-indulgence.
The novel in question features a man who sleeps with breadfruit. Pretty sure this is a first in New Zealand literature, if not the world’s.
“I’m terribly sorry, but I can’t remember me own verses.”
Makes the Greens look moderate
The Herald reports:
New Zealand needs to get rid of 80 per cent of its dairy cows because dairying is dirtying our water.That was the message delivered to the annual meeting of Wanganui Federated Farmers by its former president.Rachel Stewart, president of the group for four years in the early 2000s and guest speaker at Friday’s annual meeting, is an “ardent critic” of farming.
Dairy off memory is around 7% of GDP. So an 80% reduction is likely to reduce GDP by around $11 billion or $2,500 per capita.
Ms Stewart predicted there would be synthetic milk in five years, and people wouldn’t be eating meat in 10 years.
Her predictions seem as robust as her policies. I’m very very confident people will be eating meat in 100 years’ time, let alone 10.
“Rachel Stewart has been rather rude about you on Twitter, saying you must be deaf because she never said she doesn’t vote. What’s the story?”
Has she? I don't know why she would deny saying she doesn’t vote, because she did – I recorded it in my notebook because it was so surprising. The later quote, “I do vote. I will vote,” was in response to a question after her talk, obviously from someone who was as startled as I was by the remark. Maybe it was an impromptu joke that didn't come off so she doesn’t remember. We must be charitable.
We all know Karyn as a brilliant broadcaster on radio and TV. She is also a fine journalist – the interviews she did for last year’s New Zealand Women in Rock on Prime were a model of empathy – she knows the territory – but she was firm with them too. Nobody was let off the hook.
With all these talents, can she also write fiction? I’m sorry to say it, but. . . yes she can. Please don’t hate her.
Her first novel, Emerald Budgies, published under a pseudonym – she is the Artist Formerly Known as Lee Maxwell – was a cracker and won Best First Book in the 2001 Montana awards. A few years later she was awarded the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship. It’s been a bit of a wait since for March of the Foxgloves – for all of us – but it has been worth the wait.
The novel is intelligent, sexy, witty – just like the author – and is beautifully written. There is sparky dialogue, lovely descriptions of place, and the two women Frances and Dolly are great characters. You’d want to meet them.
It’s about women’s independence, how new technology can enable that, narcissism and obsession, there’s sex and drugs and music, and a whole lot more.
It was especially interesting for me because it is set in London and Auckland, cities I know, but mostly in Tauranga, where I grew up. So I knew the streets and buildings. I felt right at home.
I learned a lot while editing it. I do a lot of fact-checking when editing fiction, just as much as I do when editing non-fiction – but this one was really hard. Because much of the factual material wasn’t in my reference books, not even in the Centennial History of Tauranga. Karyn had dug it all out of old newspapers, all sorts of obscure places. When I could check something, she was invariably right. That was impressive – and very unusual in historical fiction, in my experience.
But the best part, apart from the pleasure of working on such a terrific novel, was how much we laughed during the process. Even though we both take writing and editing very seriously, it was a lot of fun. I have edited many authors – Lauris Edmond, Vincent O’Sullivan, Paddy Richardson, Graeme Lay, Lloyd Jones, Kelly Ana Morey, loads – but Karyn is, I have to say, by far the sweariest.
And now here is the published novel. The paperback looks good but the hardback looks fantastic. The illustrations by John Constantine are lovely and the photos Vicky Papas Vergara took of burlesque artist Miss Sina King are brilliant, exactly as I imagined that the photos Frances took of Dolly would look. It is a thrill to have been involved in such a superb publication. I know you will enjoy reading it when you have bought your copy. And now, here is Karyn Hay!
After the launch Karyn and I went with friends for a drink, as is customary after a book launch. Then dinner at SPQR, as is customary in Ponsonby. Then she dragged me to a bar (The Golden Dawn: Tavern of Power) to see Voom. They were much louder than my band was when I played that venue, and better. Good drummer, which is the main thing with a band. And a good night, which is the main thing with a book launch.
Kinky Friedman introduced the Frisbee to Borneo, where he ate raw monkey brains. He made his name as a country singer in the 70s with his band the Texas Jewboys and songs like “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed”. Now he’s a bestselling author of six wise-cracking mystery novels featuring a former country singer called Kinky Friedman who, like the author, keeps his cigars in a bust of Sherlock Holmes. He recently toured here with Rita Jo Thompson, Miss Texas 1987, and told Nigel Cox, “Course, in Texas we consider anyone a homosexual who likes girls better than football.”