Thursday, February 28, 2013

What is wrong with this picture?

I can’t quite put my finger on it. But the concept of Four-Footed Lovers seems a bit – how can one put it? – Taranaki.

The book was written by Frank Albertsen, illustrated by Lizbeth Bullock Humphrey and published in 1875 by Lee & Shepard, among whose other authors was the magnificently monikered Levina Buoncuore Urbino. The publisher was based in Boston and the imprint survives as part of HarperCollins. After that, you are on your own.

Ralph Hotere i.m.

Anyone with even the faintest interest in NZ art should see the Listener’s tribute page to the late Ralph Hotere. It is a wonderful thing in itself, and also a stunning example of how old media can use the internet to do something of value so quickly and so well. No one other than the Listener would or could have done this. Congratulations to editor Pamela Stirling and arts editor Guy Somerset.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Adventures in the book trade #5

Today in Wellington the board of Booksellers NZ is meeting to discuss the future, or at least as much of it as they may be able to discern, maybe three or four years’ worth. While some publishers and booksellers are doing well, overall it is a gloomy time for the industry.  So I bought a book today – Donna Malane’s NZ crime novel My Brother’s Keeper, because I liked her Pindar Publishing Prize-winning debut Surrender – but not many other people are doing the same.  

A straw in the wind is a story by Jenna Lynch in yesterday’s Waikato Times, headlined “Bennetts Books given heave-ho”. It begins:
After 20 years of providing Wintec students with textbooks, Bennetts bookstore has been given the shove to make way for an administration area for staff.
But while Wintec bosses say more students buying books online means they don’t need a bookstore on cam­pus, the shop’s owner says students still need the shop and Wintec is making a big mistake and students will have to cross town to the uni­versity branch to buy texts.
After Bennetts was moved from their permanent site in November last year, Wintec offered them a pop-­up shop to be run in the library until March 15.
Wintec spokeswoman Erin Ander­sen said more students were flock­ing online to buy their textbooks, and this was considered when deter­mining if an on-campus textbook supplier was needed.
“We believe the temporary store at the peak times at the start of each semester was an arrangement which best suited our students’ needs,” she said.
But Bennetts’ Wintec store man­ager Joy Leet said running the pop-­up store with very little resources, including a lack of communication facilities, was not feasible.
Ms Leet said without access to computers or phones, they could not adequately help students in the pop­up shop, so last week they packed up and left.
What will replace the bookshop? A Wintec spokesman said, “At this stage, the most likely option is for it to be fitted out as a café.”

So here is Leonard Cohen in the 90s with “The Future”:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Today is the second anniversary of my father’s death. My friends Gary Verberne and Jane West gave me a bottle of very good whisky for my last birthday and later tonight I will pour a glass and toast my father. He was a good man. Born in Piopio on 29 August 1923, died in Tauranga on 26 February 2011. He went at the right time for him but it’s still a bugger.

Traveller’s tales

I spent last Thursday in Auckland with the five other members of the board of Copyright Licensing New Zealand, our CEO and a guy called Henri who spent seven and a half hours trying to teach us how a board should work, what our responsibilities were to the organisation and what to the shareholders, a whole bunch of other stuff. He was fantastic. Always good to learn new things, and governance is something that I have never really understood before – I wish I had known all this at Quote Unquote and the Auckland Writers’ Festival, and also when I was involved with the NZ Society of Authors and the Sargeson Trust. Those days are over, happily. But seven and half hours in a small room with no open windows and seven other people is an introvert’s nightmare.

Afterwards I went for dinner with Vanda Symon, my author friend on the board, to Hanoi, the Vietnamese restaurant in the Britomart precinct. When I was editor of Architecture NZ we published the masterplan of the precinct when it was just a gleam in Jasmax’s eye, so it’s a real pleasure to go there and see the place humming. I’d been to Hanoi once before with a friend who helped set it up, and Vietnamese food was exactly what I needed. Upstairs was as buzzy as my favourite Auckland diner, Coco’s Cantina (the Les Deux Magots of K Road), and on another day that buzziness is what I would have wanted but – traveller’s tip! – there is a smaller room downstairs, maybe two tables for four and four tables for two, where one can have a quieter time and gossip. So we did.  

Another traveller’s tip: we stayed at the Mercure hotel, corner of Queen and Customs Streets, which used to be all sorts of other names. I remember it as the South Pacific in the 70s. It was great then – there was a very louche bar in the basement – but it’s better now. I had a large room with a harbour view, there were helpful staff (we’re talking Russian babes) on the desk, there is still that bar on the top floor – they don’t call it the 13th floor, though it is – with glorious views out over city and harbour, and Unity Books is a five-minute walk away. Totally recommend it for business travellers.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

An actor writes

A friend has a role in a TV programme being shot in Australia.  Excellent. On the other hand, he emails:
It should be fun but most of it I think will involve sitting on a horse looking concerned.
Every time I sit on a horse I look concerned When the horse moves, I look terrified. And I am not acting.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cheese of the year

Blessed be the cheesemakers. This cheese, “Tilly”, bought this morning at the Cambridge farmers’ market, is from Cloudy Mountain, aka Cathy and Pete who live and work in Pirongia. Best-before date is 11 March. There is no show it will last that long. 

When Ten was a baby we went down to Wellington for a friend’s 50th dinner party, which involved, among other delights, a lot of Burgundy and some Chateau d’Yquem. Sunday morning, slightly sore-headed, we went into Unity Books in Willis Street. As I had hoped, the adorable Tilly Lloyd was on duty so I introduced her to wife and baby, who was clad in a purple jumpsuit. 

Tilly said, “Ah! You’ve dressed her as a lesbian.” And I had. That is how thoughtful I am.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Grant Smithies on the Close Readers

For those who missed it in the Sunday Star-Times of 17 February, here – flagrant breach of copyright alert! is Grant Smithies’ selection of Album of the Week:
The Close Readers (Austin Records)
The Close Readers is a musical project of acclaimed Wellington writer Damien Wilkins (guitar/ vocals), ably assisted by Cassette drummer Craig Terris and assorted guest players. As with “Lake Alice” and “Okay”, the highlights of this band’s 2011 debut Group Hug, the best tracks here resemble truncated short stories: rich with detail, populated by damaged souls and delivered over a frazzled country-rock sound that recalls Neil Young. “Kathleen” overcomes an early resemblance to Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” to evoke prime Go-Betweens; “Troubled Water” is a witty tale of a stereo given away by a newly converted Christian, and the title track is the greatest disaffected urban fable REM never wrote, with Wilkins channelling Michael Stipe as he considers family dysfunction from the point of view of an alienated son. Terris’ drumming is an understated delight — check his recasting of Phil Spector’s classic “girl group” beat on Whisper — but Wilkins’ words shine brightest as he ponders the ways distress may be generated, amplified or healed by family.
You read about the album here back in October. And yes, it really is that good.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy birthday, Yoko Ono

The Japanese avant-gardeist (Grapefruit, Wish Tree and so much more) was born on 18 February 1933, which makes her 80 today. Golly. 

So here she is with her then husband John Lennon in June 1971 performing the old R&B song “Well”. It’s a remarkable performance – the band don’t know the song and Lennon hadn’t played it for years, not since the Cavern. They kick off with Zappa announcing the song: “For those of you in the band who have no idea what’s about to happen, this is in A minor and it’s not standard blues changes – but it’s close”. Certainly it isn’t when Yoko starts singing. Lennon plays great rhythm guitar, there’s a terrific Zappa solo, and you just have to admire the musicianship of the band. Ian Underwood and Bob Harris on keyboards, Aynsley Dunbar on drums, plus Jim Pons (bass) and Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (vocals) from the Turtles. Yes, the Turtles. (Volman and Kaylan  did the backing vocals on T Rex’s Electric Warrior. Has there ever been a better pop album?)

Yoko is, as always, interesting.

Trainspotter alert: these performances appear on Lennon’s album Sometime in New York City  and Zappa’s Playground Psychotics though the mixes are different. Fancy that. Some of the titles of the improvisations are different too. “A Small Eternity with Yoko Ono” appears on one but not the other. Can you guess which? 

Rob Oakeshott and Richard III

This is Rob Oakeshott, federal MP for Lyne in New South Wales. No one who followed the last Austalian election will forget his interminable speech revealing which major party he would support. Not interminable, it was only 17 minutes, but it felt longer watching it.

And this is a reconstruction of Richard III, who has been under a Leicester car park for the last few centuries. He was the last Plantagenet king; the Tudors who followed wrote the history which made him out to be a villain. It ain’t necessarily so: the Economist obituary is here.

I wonder if they could possibly be related.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Meaningless Songs in Very High Voices

On 22 December 2009, Robin Gibb’s 60th birthday, I posted a clip of the HeeBeeGeeBees (English comedians Angus Deayton, Michael Fenton-Stevens and Philip Pope) singing their brilliant, merciless parody of the Bee Gees, “Meaningless Songs in Very High Voices”. That clip was sound-only. Clever Phil Parker has found a clip of them performing the song live in Sweden so now you can enjoy the visuals plus an intro in Swedish. I am a Bee Gees fan – yes, I am, out and unashamed – but can see that they are mockable. All together now:
The world is very very large
And butter is better than marge
And love is better than hate.
The world is very very big
And bacon comes from a pig
But it’s you I really want on my plate.

Friday, February 15, 2013

What I’m reading #94

Mark Lynas, environmental activist, discovers science and recants. You’ll have seen references to this but here is the full speech. Quote unquote:
I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.
And this:
In particular one critic said to me: so you’re opposed to GM on the basis that it is marketed by big corporations. Are you also opposed to the wheel because because it is marketed by the big auto companies? 
How to pick up a scientist. Quote unquote:
It's OK to approach them, but do so slowly and calmly, and if possible hold your hands out, palms open and facing upwards, to emphasise that you pose no threat.
Chad Taylor is in Wellington making movies with Jonathan King. Good.

Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Francis Wheen and other usual suspects on pseudonyms. I’m afraid the story ends with one of them bedding Tina Brown. Incidentally, here is a recording by Francis’s band. It’s really good for a bunch of old lefties. Not sure how long the free download will work, though. Be in quick. 

Amazon in England doesn’t seem very efficient, going by this report in the Financial Times. Quote unquote:
Workers in Amazon’s warehouses – or “associates in Amazon’s fulfilment centres” as the company would put it – are divided into four main groups. There are the people on the “receive lines” and the “pack lines”: they either unpack, check and scan every product arriving from around the world, or they pack up customers’ orders at the other end of the process. Another group stows away suppliers’ products somewhere in the warehouse. They put things wherever there’s a free space – in Rugeley, there are inflatable palm trees next to milk frothers and protein powder next to kettles. Only Amazon’s vast computer brain knows where everything is, because the workers use their handheld computers to scan both the item they are stowing away and a barcode on the spot on the shelf where they put it.
The last group, the “pickers”, push trolleys around and pick out customers’ orders from the aisles. Amazon’s software calculates the most efficient walking route to collect all the items to fill a trolley, and then simply directs the worker from one shelf space to the next via instructions on the screen of the handheld satnav device. Even with these efficient routes, there’s a lot of walking. One of the new Rugeley “pickers” lost almost half a stone in his first three shifts.
Singer/songwriter John Prine on work in progress. Quote unquote:
Well, it’s true that I am a bit lazy. That’s why I am not in the recording studio at the moment, even though I am sure my wife wishes I would get out of the house. I guess I am just waiting for a new song to fall off a tree and hit me on the head. For now, I would be happy if I could just write another song. The past couple of years have been a struggle. You have to try to be patient, and not see it as an assignment. Not worry and have faith that one will come along.
I’m not someone who really shows anyone a work in progress. By the time I really like a song, I sing it. The experience of singing words and playing the melody tells the writer a whole lot about whether it will work. Sometimes it’s like colours, you realise you have to paint it a little differently. But I would never sing something that I did not believe in.

The above photo of Robert Johnson, who went down to the crossroads and sold his soul to the devil, has been authenticated. It shows him (left) with Johnny Shines who many years later made albums with Robert Jr Lockwood who had learned guitar from Johnson, his stepfather. Lockwood toured New Zealand some time in the 80s and I met him at his Gluepot concert because my then-bandmate Mark was his minder. The New Zealand “two degrees of separation” rule is unbroken:  I met a man who knew Robert Johnson. So here is Johnny Shines performing “Sweet Home Chicago”. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Erotic typing

Erotic writing is all the rage but what about erotic typing? Poet Tim Upperton used to work at the Palmerston North public library and writes:
I remember a rather elderly woman once asked me if we had a particular book, and I typed its title to check while she watched me intently. After I told her where to find it, she started to walk away, but then she turned and came back.
“Your typing,” she said. “You typed with all ten fingers.”
“Can you look something else up for me?”
“Yes, what?”
“Anything. I want to watch you type again using all your fingers.”
Is it possible to have self-conscious fingers? Mine suddenly felt very naked.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

An editor’s lament

Version control is a bitch. Yesterday, halfway through editing a novel, I discovered a later version of the manuscript. This was emailed to me in early January while I was on holiday and on my return I did not notice it among the 200+ other emails in my inbox. It has significant changes, so I have to start again from page one. 

I have all the edits I made (or suggested)  on the earlier version but they all have to be redone, along with comments and queries, on the new one. There goes three days’ work for which I will not be paid. 

So here is the great Pops Staples with “Nobody’s Fault but Mine”. It’s a bit different from the Led Zeppelin version you may know:

Monday, February 11, 2013

Vincent O’Sullivan goes to the dogs

Strictly speaking this is not Quote Unquote material but it’s close. I can’t remember for which newspaper I wrote this profile of Vincent O’Sullivan but it was in 2004, when he was shortlisted in the Montana book awards for his fine Mulgan biography Long Journey to the Border. It’s slightly out of date as he has published several books since then, most recently The Movie May be Slightly Different in 2011, as covered previously here, but as with any interview with Vincent, there are some great quotes:
“I see myself as someone who buggers around a lot,” says Vincent O’Sullivan, emeritus professor English at Victoria University. “I can go for weeks without writing a line, then work hard for a week or so.”
Imagine what he’d have produced if he’d really applied himself to his writing instead of concentrating on an academic career that has brought him international renown. His poetry collection (there are now 14) Seeing You Asked won Best Book of Poetry at the 1999 Montana NZ Book Awards. That year his novel Believers to the Bright Coast was runner-up in the fiction; its predecessor Let the River Stand had won the 1994 award. This year, Long Journey to the Border is shortlisted in the biography section.
He was joint editor of the five-volume Letters of Katherine Mansfield. An Anthology of Twentieth-Century New Zealand Poetry was a standard text for a quarter of a century. There are five collections of short stories. His play Shuriken was performed in Japan. He won the 1993 Mobil Radio Drama Award.
He has excelled, then, in every literary form apart from the sports biography and the cookbook. It’s only a matter of time…
As fellow poet and novelist Kevin Ireland says, “Through all his work he has maintained the highest creative standards. It’s not often appreciated that some of his short stories are among the finest written here. The only academic near him to straddle the two worlds of critical and creative writing is CK Stead, who for all his merits hasn’t achieved the same breadth.
“The poetry is not confessional and he has been tough on poets who write like that – hanging out all their washing. His poetry is about observation, reflection and commentary – it’s not a public laundry.”
His poem “The Grieving Process”, in which the narrator remembers his late father, has the marvellous line, “He’s a big sunset still fading the curtains.” O’Sullivan admits that, while the poem is not about his own father, that line certainly is. It’s a rare instance of the poem’s “I” meaning I.
There have been gaps between the poetry books – 1998’s Seeing You Asked was the first entirely new collection since The Pilate Tapes in 1986. Some poets get distressed when the well runs dry, but his view is that “there’s no point worrying about it. Worrying is a form of vanity – is the world being robbed of anything? But I’m quite glad and grateful when I am writing. It’s important that you take the work seriously but not yourself seriously.”
Does he regret not starting earlier and writing more novels? “I think of myself as a writer, not a poet or playwright or whatever,” he says. “A sportsman may be good at one but be interested in others. The game factor is important – writing is a game, variously serious and trivial, where you get satisfaction from operating within the constraints.”
O’Sullivan knows a lot about rugby and other sports – he has written about racing and as director of the Stout Centre organised a conference on sport. It features in his fiction, too. Let the River Stand has a lot about boxing which, he says, “is a bit repellent but quite attractive, like a lot of things in life”.
A sporting highlight must have been the night of 20 September 2002, when he presented the Professor Vincent O’Sullivan Stakes – the prize was a pewter tankard and £185 – to the trainer of Sourcey Number at London’s Walthamstow Stadium greyhound races. O’Sullivan had backed General Karl for a win, but the dog failed to place.
This was a surprise organised by his former PhD student Sarah Sandley, now publisher/CEO of NZ Magazines, who says of him, “He’s a great wit and raconteur. He never repeats himself – you’ll always hear new stories. As a thesis supervisor where things were obviously profoundly wrong he’d be very tactful.”
Which is not quite how Graeme Lay remembers him: “As a tutor he was a bit scary because he could be scathing, but he was one of the few Victoria University staff members one came across on the rough end of the party circuit. He had another life outside the tutorial room, which made him unique. He could be devastating in his comments on the essays. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I’ve greatly enjoyed getting to know him over the years – he’s very irreverent.
“His great virtue is that he has always mixed with people who are disreputable, not just academics. He and Harry Orsman used to drink at the back bar of DeBretts or at the Duke of Edinburgh, where all the subversive people used to get together in the 60s and 70s. He’s not an ivory-tower person, even though he’s so scholarly. He gets his feet dirty.”
Which may be why his characters can be so wonderfully vulgar: in the hilarious story “Putting Bob Down”, one says that “to root above one’s station is the first step to the stars”. The best joke in Believers is unprintable in a newspaper.
Lay recalls his favourite moment at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival: “Vincent was reading his poems to the worshipful multitudes after lunch at the top of the Hyatt hotel, then immediately urged me, after he sat down, ‘Now let’s get the hell out of here and watch the rugby.’ We absconded, took the lift down to his room and watched the Super 12 final live on TV, in the company of Maurice Gee, Kevin Ireland, yourself and other writers who love rugby as much as poetry.”
The scathing comments Lay recalls haven’t been confined to student essays. As Sandley says, “He can’t resist an aphorism, but is never mean-spirited.” True, but you really don’t want to get on the wrong side of him. His verdict on a former Listener editor: “a waterbed in a three-piece suit”. On a female academic: “She defined a book as what she had to read, alas,/ prior to saying something of significance about it.” On a politician named Richard: “a head badly carved from grey soap,/ its complexion a pocked carpet”.
As books editor at the Listener in 1979, he grumbled when a particularly inept review came in that he would get better results if he just handed out the books at random on the Wadestown bus. The subeditors were never certain that he didn’t do exactly that.
In his play Jones & Jones, he has Katherine Mansfield say, “I’m an artist… Our vocation is to tell the truth as only the born liar can.” That sounds like a Wilde pastiche but actually is typical O’Sullivan: he talks like this. Asked at the 2004 Writers and Readers’ Week whether he was planning to write an autobiography, he said, “Oh, I don’t have the imagination for that.”
On being Catholic: ‘It’s similar to being a Pakeha or a New Zealander because that’s what I am. It doesn’t mean I go along with every absurdity, but if you try to dissociate yourself from it, it becomes an exercise in self-castration – and I have no ambition to be the boy soprano of New Zealand literature.”
Of the projects he is currently working on, he’s reluctant to say more than “a book of short stories and a couple of pieces of long fiction”. No poems? “You can’t predict that,” he says. “Only a prosaic writer could be certain about the next book of poems.”

UPDATE: On Saturday the Economist reported that England’s greyhound racing industry has been in decline for decades and now internet gambling looks likely to finish it off. Walthamstow closed in August 2008, Oxford on 29 December last year. I fear that we shall never see the Professor Vincent O’Sullivan Stakes again. On the other hand, we still have greyhound racing here in Cambridge, where Vincent used to live and still occasionally visits. Is it to much to hope?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The AUP anthology of New Zealand literature #5

Links to previous entries in this long-running series are here.

This morning’s edition of the Australian carries a solid review of the book by Peter Pierce in which he quotes my deep thoughts on it and describes me as “the anonymous reviewer on the literary website Quote Unquote”. This proves yet again that you can’t always believe what you read in the papers: I am not anonymous and this is not a website. Still, nice to be noticed. Don’t we love it when, as Charles Brasch put it, “distance looks our way”. Even if it’s only Australia.

The review outlines the criticism the book has received here for the exclusions of Frame, O’Sullivan, Duff and the rest, but is generally positive. Pierce is professor of Australian literature at James Cook University, Townsville and knows New Zealand literature, quoting well from the selections to bring out themes of interest to Australian readers. He quite rightly praises the design and production values, and concludes hopefully:
Attentive readers of this book will also discover the personal, political and literary affiliations among its writers. They will happen on authors of originality, rough and polished distinction, whose presence should ensure that for many reading households in Australia, this Anthology of New Zealand Literature is a vital and much used possession.
Monitor: Bill Manhire

Friday, February 8, 2013

Good news from Timbuktu

The retreating Islamists did not, after all, destroy the 30,000 irreplaceable manuscripts, some dating back to the 13th century,  in the Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research. They burned about 2000 – bad enough but the rest had been barged to safety in Bamako. The man who saved them is illiterate.

The story has been widely if briefly reported but this AP report by Rukmini Callimachi seems to be the best telling of it. Quote unquote:
“We lost a lot of our riches. But we were also able to save a great deal of our riches, and for that I am overcome with joy,” Cisse said. “These manuscripts represent who we are.... I saved these books in the name of Timbuktu first, because I am from Timbuktu. Then I did it for my country. And also for all of humanity. Because knowledge is for all of humanity.”
Monitor: Mick Hartley

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What I’m reading #93

Keep calm and curry on.

Mansfield and Sargeson in Swedish. I don’t understand a word of it but doesn’t it look lovely.

Don’t lower your mask – as if the Sevens weren’t bad enough, Wellington will be packed with Katherine Mansfield scholars and fans from February 8-11. Key speakers: Gerri Kimber and Vincent O’Sullivan, co-editors of the new edition of the stories published by Edinburgh University Press. Dame Sarah Sandley will also be in attendance. The full programme is here. I seldom wish I were in Wellington, but time spent with Gerri, Vincent and Sarah is always time well spent.

A bird ballet. It’s only starlings, but still.

Er ist wieder da (in English, He’s Back) is a bestselling German comic novel about Hitler. Brilliant cover design. Now that’s what I call typography.

I don’t know much about wine but I know what I like – this label. It is for Dunnarunna pinot noir and it reads:
This wine was made at a winery, from grapes grown on dirt soils in a vineyard somewhere, fermented and then matured in oak barrels clearly for a good deal of time. If that sounds a bit vague, it’s because the winery went belly up and the proprietor’s buggered off overseas, so all we’re left with is what’s in the bottle. But luckily for you, what’s in the bottle is absolutely magic – a hauntingly perfumed, rich and silky Pinot Noir from Marlborough that would be a steal at three times the price. So in honour of our expatriated friend, we’ve named this bargain of the year Dunnarunna – which means “to slink off or scarper”.
The website asks: Is this the greatest image on Earth? The photo was taken from the top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Been there, done that. Dubai is not beautiful but this is undeniably a great image.

On the other hand: here is the Italian actress Virna Lisi who started her career in theatre in Milan then went to Hollywood in the 1960s to make movies with Lemmon, Curtis, Sinatra, Steiger etc. She turned down the title role of Barbarella: good for her. Here she is six years ago, aged 70. Such confidence:

Monitors: Linda Olsson, Sarah Fraser, David Thompson

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The AUP anthology of New Zealand literature #4

Previous entries in this series here. Sadly no sign of the promised letter from Playmarket to the Listener about it, but here from the Otago Daily Times is Lawrence Jones, who knows a thing or two about NZ lit and is more enthusiastic than some other reviewers. Quote unquote:
Sturdily bound and nicely printed, made up of well-chosen imaginatively arranged texts covering something approaching the full range of New Zealand literature, accompanied by brief, suggestive introductions to the whole and to each historical section (but without any intrusive notes), good bibliographies, and brief biographical outlines, the book will be good for browsing, will be a useful reference work, will encourage the making of many interesting literary connections, will serve as a useful (but not complete) guide to further reading, and, inevitably, will be a spur to good literary arguments as to inclusions and exclusions. For the right readers, the $75 might be money well spent.

Poetic localities of Cambridge

In Leamington, the part of Cambridge that is on the south side of the Waikato River so is unknown to travellers who simply speed through on State Highway 1, the fools, some 70 streets are named after writers. The full list is here. They range from Addison, Arnold and Austen to Tennyson, Walpole and Wordsworth, taking in Baxter, Curnow, Dallas, Frame, Ihimaera and Sargeson along the way. And yes, Cresswell too.

On the intersection of Browning and Tennyson Streets is a green square called Gwyneth Common, which I assume is named after the actress.

So here is my current reading, WJ Stillman’s 1876 Poetic Localities in Cambridge:

Monitor: History of Photography Archive