Tuesday, 18 September 2012


Tuesday 18 September:
Amazing how long it takes to prepare visual presentations for something like my 'New Zealand Natural World' session at the Frankfurt Bookfair on the 12th. But many thanks to John Crawford of Natural History New Zealand for coming up at short notice with a 'show reel' of NZ landscape and nature subjects. Brilliant.  But will my Apple stuff work with whatever gear is over there? I'm not a technophobe (maybe technosceptic) but too much time is deleted from meaningful work periods by satisfying the demands of the latest gadgetry - like this blog!

The Frankfurt literary programme looks reasonably diverse, given the constraints and distortions of the lead-in time, tight budgets and the need to take advantage of those writers who happen to be over there at this time. The criterion of having a German publisher also means a lot of excellent writers were simply not eligible. I'm not sure that all of this explains, however, the absence of any sessions related to NZ history and biography. We have no history??  Or no-one is interested in our history??  I suspect, also, that many Germans and other Europeans travel to NZ for its scenery, natural world and outdoor attractions.  And a high proportion of all this is in the South Island. Looks like I'm largely carrying the flag for both - the only other SI writer I can identify is Paddy Richardson.  More to come.

I picked up the other day that Whale Oil, aka Cameron Slater, described me as a 'bearded, weirdo academic' on his blog for daring to suggest in the Herald that the current government might pay at the next election if it didn't take on board the Electoral Commission's recommendations for improvements to MMP. 'Bearded'? Full  marks. 'Weirdo'? Sounds self-reflective.  'Academic?' Never attended university although, I hasten to add, some of my best friends etc...  Slater reckons I'm wrong because most people out there don't give a damn about the electoral system. Given that it upsets him so much, he clearly doesn't speak for them.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Starting up

Wed 12 September

Welcome to the billionth blog site on the planet.  I'll be using it, to begin with, to post news about my (our) forthcoming trip to Berlin and Frankfurt. No time for much else at present as we are in the final hectic 10-day countdown to heading off for more than 6 weeks.

First stop London where Diane and I will be taking part in a symposium at the New Zealand Studies Network at Birkbeck College on Saturday 29 September, starting at 10 a.m. So if you are reading this from the London area, go to http://www.nzstudies.com and book in. I'll be talking about the Wakefield Literary Tradition (with a Dickens connection) and Diane about 'Addiction to Narrative'.

We arrive in Berlin on 1 October for interviews and events around the new German edition of my novel To Each His Own  - Jedem das Seine - and my other German novels. The highlight looks like a literary cruise on a restaurant ship on the Havel on Sunday 7 October.

We get to Frankfurt in time for the official opening of the Book Fair and on Wednesday 10th I'll be in the NZ Pavilion with Witi Ihimaera and Cath Dunsford talking to the topic 'Aotearoa New Zealand - Traditions and Landscape in Contemporary NZ Fiction.' The title is almost as long as the mere 5 minutes each we'll have to address this weighty topic!! Watch out for the T shirt.

Then on Friday 12th I'll be flying solo in the Focus on Travel Gallery in the Main exhibition hall, talking about Natural New Zealand: 10 - 11a.m. Hall 3.1, L691. Lots of pictures.

On 15 October, Diane and I will escape the super-heated air of the Frankfurt Book Fair for the warm waters of Crete. New book? New poems for sure.