Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lesser books

From the Institute of Modern Letters 4 June newsletter (a free download as a PDF here):
In our general twittering excitement, we got especially excited about the #lesserbooks twitter trend – the invention of titles like Dr Perhaps, Tale of One City, Captain Corelli’s Ukulele. In fact, we got so excited we asked if twitterers could devise suggestions for well-known NZ books, and started with a couple of suggestions of our own: Drizzle, by Kirsty Gunn, and Somebody Quite Likes Us All, by Damien Wilkins.

Given New Zealanders’ expertise in self-deprecation, it’s probably no surprise that we turned out to be pretty good at the lesserbooks game. The trend, as they say, trended. Some of our favourites from a great list of titles:

Came a Mild Tuesday
Beta Male
A Good Keen Flan
Owls Do Fly
Once Were Worriers
100 Traditional Piles
Tarzan Pitney
An Anglepoise at My Table
The Cartilage People
The background is here.

I had trouble searching Twitter for the rest of the NZ entries but I did find Fergus Barrowman’s excellent Collected Poem. So these modest proposals below may be repeats:

Most Visitors Ashore and Four for the Symbol, CK Stead,
One Night Out Borrowing and Once Were Corporals, Alan Duff
Hum to Me, Dreamer and The Betrothal at Bueno-Vista, Shonagh Koea
The Quartermen of O, Maurice Gee
The Glums, Damien Wilkins
Month of the Jew, Maurice Shadbolt
The Heart’s Mild Surf, Stephanie Johnson
The Denniston Daisy, Jenny Pattrick
Stand in the Shower, Jean Watson
Swimming to New Zealand, Lloyd Jones

In other lit news, Bill Manhire’s delightful 1988 hypertext novel The Brain of Katherine Mansfield is a website and has been for some time. Well, no one told me. Go here to start reading, and here for some background info. Why am I not surprised that Jolisa Gracewood was involved?

Speaking of matters Manhire, he has reviewed for Poetry London the new James K. Baxter Selected Poems, edited by Paul Millar and published in/for the UK by Carcanet. Written for English readers who probably are unfamiliar with Baxter, it is an excellent brief survey of his life and work, and as clear-sighted an appreciation of both as one could hope for.


Danyl said...

To the Probably-Land
In a Swiss Pension
The Cartilage People
Man Accompanied
Tomorrow we Save the Kids Whose Parents get Home Quite Late
Sceptics to the Adequately Lit Coast

Stephen Stratford said...

Bonus points for the O'Marshall and O'Sullivan entries. I tried and failed.

Paul Millar said...

O'Sullivan: Get the River Dammed and Dandy Edison for Brunch
Marshall: Watch of Pigeons and The Day Hemingway Slept
Butler: Erehwemos
Morrieson: Came a Cool Monday
Baxter: Howrah Ferry and Jerusalem Phonebook

Stephen Stratford said...

And bonus points to you too, Paul.

Ian Richards: To Bed at Morning-tea Time
Laurence Fearnley, Stepmother's Day
Paul Millar, No Fretful Napper
Stephen Stratford, The Dirty Nine Years
Vincent O'Sullivan, The Rain in Spain

I'll stop now.