AWF18: Still Lives: A.S. King

AWF18: Still Lives: A.S. King

‘Praised for her “difficult, resonant and compelling characters and stories” (Kirkus Reviews), A.S. King is also heralded by the New York Times Book Review as one of the best YA writers working today.’

Tara Black attended and reviewed her session with Kate De Goldi.

AWF18 9 AS King
Read Sarah Forster’s review of Amy Sarig King’s Schools Fest session too!

And go and buy one or four of A.S. King’s books. We promise they are amazing.

Her most recent release is :

Still Life with Tornado
Published by Text
ISBN 9781925498646

 

 

 

 

AWF18: Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler

AWF18: Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler

‘Fiction, sci-fi, fantasy and short story writer Karen Joy Fowler is the author of New York Times bestseller The Jane Austen Book Club and the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award Winner / Booker shortlisted We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.’

Tara Black attended her session with Kate De Goldi at Auckland Writers Festival.

Karen Joy Fowler by Tara Black

Illustrated notes copyright Tara Black

 

Karen Joy Fowler will also appear in:

Ode to Ursula
Sun, 20 May 2018, 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Heartland Festival Room, Aotea Square

Book Review: Annual 2, edited by Kate de Goldi & Susan Paris

Annual-2-cvr-72dpi-max-800Available in bookshops nationwide.

Annual 2 is a beautiful book to behold. With its gentle green colouration, whimsically pop-art styled illustration and thick creamy pages, it is decidedly collectible. On opening the book one is treated to an Aladdin’s cave of the oddball and quirky, with a charming irreverence that is an absolute delight.

For this is no ordinary compendium of stories, compiled from an array of New Zealand authors, illustrators and other creatively-minded people. No, this is a figurative treasure chest to grab and engage the mind and attention. There are short stories, yes, and essays too, plus several comics.

But there is so much more: the board game of “Blended Families”, taking one on a ride roll-and-move through the hazards of step parents and siblings; a slightly twisted interview with a taxidermist (he took up the occupation so he could preserve his beloved cat, Mr Mallory); quirky craft activities (ever wanted to knit a digestive system? Or build an eye-catchingly garish mailbox?); a pancake recipe, complete with how to ferment your own sauerkraut; a double-page spread on the identification of ‘Common Household Biscuits and Slices of New Zealand’ complete with scientific names (Raisin biscuits are known as Deceptus terribloides); strange historic postcards; colourful illustrations; tips on how to be a rock star. There is something for everyone here, something to delight and entertain the young (and young at heart). I urge you to pick it up and take a look!

Annual 2 is a very modern, contemporary collection, with a sophistication one rarely finds in more mainstream annuals. It is the sort of book that will hopefully find its way into Christmas stockings all over the country, into the collections of book lovers, and be passed on through the generations.

Reviewed by Angela Oliver

Annual 2
edited by Kate De Goldi & Susan Paris
Published by AnnualInk
ISBN 9780473395230

DWRF 2017 Showcase Gala: Metamorphosis

Although I arrived 20 minutes into the ‘drink and nibbles’ introduction to this event, it was clear upon entering the beautiful Toitu Settlers Museum building that things were pumping. Gala Showcase: Metamorphosis was a sold out event, and the room was packed. When the call was made for the audience to take their seats, the attendees had to make their way from one end of the museum to the other – a canny move as this meant the best of the museum was showcased before the event had even started.

Kate De Goldi emceed this meditation on ‘metamorphosis’ and introduced each author before they responded to a selected book (or books) that embraced this concept. Whilst it was a treat to hear each author give mostly prepared talks on this topic, it was also an excellent ‘taster’ as all authors have further events this weekend.

ian-rankin_5Ian Rankin (left) was the first to speak, and his thoughts centred around metamorphic considerations in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. He talked of how his books were influenced by this one, and shared anecdotes of macabre body snatchers and dichotomous laboratories in the times before bodies could be legally left to science.

Stella Duffy gave an impassioned speech about the power of words and the way they can change readers. She used the touchstones of Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban and Janet Frame’s fiction to explore this concept in her own life. She particularly marveled at the way these texts created music for the reader through words alone – no mean feat.

John Lanchester was softly spoken but exceptionally articulate in explaining the effect the poetry collection Ariel by Sylvia Plath had on him as an 18 year old school leaver. He talked of the way Plath took seemingly nebulous emotions and feelings and nailed them to the page in astonishing ways. His explanation of the literal metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly was beautiful and a fitting metaphorical end to his talk.

hannahkent-2016-credit-lauren-bamford_origThe story Hannah Kent (right, photo Lauren Banford) wove about her school exchange from South Australia to Iceland was atmospheric and gripping. She explained how she felt literature saved her life in the early days of that time, in the dark winter days next to an Icelandic fjord. She talked of how To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf opened up her understanding of what it means to be human, and how, ultimately, this is what people are searching for.

When Bill Manhire stepped up to the microphone few would have expected his choice – The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton – but his exceptional discussion of Blyton’s dreamlike sequences in this selection convinced many of the extraordinary value of transformation in children’s texts.

The night ended with Victor Rodger speaking to his experiences in mid-1980’s Christchurch as a closeted gay, half-Samoan teenager and the moment of reckoning and solace found in Another Country by James Baldwin, the gay, African-American author with anger in his veins. It was great to have Rodgers back in Dunedin, as he almost feels like ‘ours’, having been the Burns Fellow in 2016.

All of these showcased authors have events on this weekend, and, after seeing what was on show tonight, I highly recommend attending. I’m sure you will be in the hands of experts.

Reviewed by Lara Liesbeth

Events with Ian Rankin (also at WORD Christchurch and Auckland Writers Festival)
Events with Stella Duffy  (also at WORD Christchurch and Auckland Writers Festivals)
Events with John Lanchester (also at Auckland Writers Festival)
Events with Hannah Kent
Events with Bill Manhire (also at Auckland Writers Festival)
Events with Victor Rodger

 

Books I’ll be Giving this Christmas, by Jenna Todd

Jenna Todd is the Manager of Time Out Bookstore in Mt Eden, Auckland, which was this year crowned Nielsen Independent Bookshop of the Year. Here are the books she is planning to give friends and family this Christmas. And you can win them: just tell us your favourite cover in the comments, and/or over on Facebook!

cv_swing_timeSwing Time, by Zadie Smith (Penguin)
Swing Time is my go-to fiction recommendation for this Christmas. There is a touch of Ferrante’s Neopolitan Novels in terms of female friendships carrying the story however, there’s a lot more going on including the exploration of race, the internet, and pop culture. This layered narrative allows you to take in the story on so many levels. It’s fresh, contemporary and a novel that captures a snapshot of current times.

A is for Aotearoa, by Diane Newcombe & Melissa Anderson Scott (Puffin)
cv_a_is_for_aotearoaI may be biased, as Diane & Missy are Mt. Eden locals, but this is the type of book that will go out of print and customers will be asking after it for years to come.  A is for Aotearoa follows on from the successful A is for Auckland. It’s slightly more advanced as the reader is given as series of clues for each letter of the alphabet and they have to guess each New Zealand landmark (don’t worry, the answers are in the back!) It’s the type of book that can be read together as a family, with interactive flaps and whimsical illustrations. I’ve sent this to my dear Canadian friends and they just snapchatted me a picture of it under their Christmas tree.

cv_annualAnnual, edited by Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris (Gecko Press)
When I saw a proof of Annual at the NZ Booksellers Conference this year, I was so excited. Kate De Goldi has curated a treasure trove of some of NZ’s most loved and soon to be loved creative talents. Presented in a beautiful A4-sized hardback, this is the perfect gift for the curious NZ child. I plan to give this to my 12-year-old sister, and I hope more are published so I can give her one every year!

cv_tell_you_what_2017Tell you what 2017, edited by Jolisa Gracewood and Susanna Andrew (AUP)
This is the third year that Tell You What has been around and it’s such a treasure to sell. Jolisa Gracewood and Susanna Andrew have brought together the best non fiction written over 2016. It’s such an easy present to give as it’s perfect for someone who lives and engages in New Zealand culture or for someone who has never been here – so pretty much anyone! I plan to give this to anyone that I can’t decide what to buy them.

The Shops, by Steve Braunias (Luncheon Sausage Books)
cv_the_shopsCivilisation and Scene of the Crime have been some of Time Out’s bestselling non fiction over the last few years. Luncheon Sausage brings us the NZ gothic feeling of these titles − but this time Steve’s writing is accompanied by an excellent series of images by Peter Black. Each image of Black’s feels like a Braunias essay in itself − it says so much by saying not much at all. This year, I will be buying The Shops for my husband so I can have the pleasure of owning it too!

by Jenna Todd

WORD: Coming Rain, by Stephen Daisley with Kate De Goldi

cv_coming_rainComing Rain is the second and latest novel by New Zealand author, from Australia, Stephen Daisley. Kate De Goldi talked with him about his latest book, which won the Acorn Foundation Literary Award at the recent Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

As De Goldi said, “Daisley lives in West Australia but is absolutely a Kiwi.” She started by outlining the key characters, an older man, Painter, and a younger man, Lou. The third main character is a Dingo bitch. Between these three runs tenderness and violence. The dingo is in pup and spends the story desperate for food and a safe place to whelp. The two men work together and the work is an important part of the narrative. Daisley read a long passage in which the men arrive at a shearing quarters and prepare food. As De Goldi points out, all the tools are named by their manufacturer which gives them a sense of importance in the story: a Green River skinning knife, a Kelly axe. It is probably the first in-depth description of actual work since the start of the 1900s.

De Goldi also commented on the prose where pronouns are often dropped which gives a fragmentary effect to the story. Daisley sees this as allowing the reader to become part of the narrative as they fill in the blanks with their own ideas. He creates “a new kind of music within the sentence”.

The influences of Irish and American writers like Faulkner and Steinbeck are important, but so too are Janet Frame and the New Zealand poets of her era. As Daisley quipped, he has a sign beside his computer which states,”Don’t show off, you bastard”.

Dingo is an important character in the story and one reader commented,”the best animal depiction since Watership Down.” Observing his own dogs helped in creating this close relationship with an animal which is so starkly portrayed.

The two men are formed by two wars and a depression. Daisley reflected at some length on how we are what has gone before. As Faulkner says,”there is no such thing as the past, we carry it with us”.

As a boy, Daisley wanted to write, but at 15 his mother suggested he would grow out of it. It took decades before his first book on Gallipolli, Traitor, was published, but the intervening years as soldier, shearer and farmer have seen him continue to write.

De Goldi had a perceptive understanding of Coming Rain, even surprising Stephen Daisley with her observations. It was a wonderful insight into the ideas behind the text and probably more so , to the person behind the story.

I look forward to more from this pen.

Reviewed by Kathy Watson

Coming Rain, by Stephen Daisley with Kate De Goldi

Coming Rain
by Stephen Daisley
Published by Text Publishing
ISBN 9781922182029

WORD: The Margaret Mahy Lecture, given by David Levithan

This was a really special experience. I will move mountains to come to all future Margaret Mahy lectures. I’ll admit that the concept of a named lecture often gives me doubts, but I have read Levithan, and I knew I did not want to miss what he had to say.

Kate De Goldi gave the introduction, saying ever since his first novel Boy Meets Boy, “he has energetically reimagined queer experience.” Levithan has now written, edited, and anthologised more than 20 books. “He has peopled the YA stage with self-aware, thoughtful, engaged teenagers.” The highlight of his books for De Goldi is the concept that we are at our best in relationship to one another: change comes only from connectivity. As well as writing his own books, he is a publisher and editorial director at Scholastic US.

Event_Margaret-Mahy-Memorial-Lecture-David-Levithan-1He opened his talk by speaking briefly to the Orlando shooting: “What do we do in response? We raise our voices not singing, but shouting. Not shouting, but telling stories. We must look for people who don’t get to speak, and make their stories part of the collective story.”

Levithan re-read Margaret Mahy’s Memory in preparation for this talk. He was delighted to find that it is still as profound as he remembered it. He took us through one paragraph, about Johnny five years after his sister’s death, which expertly delves into the teenage mind, the mind in hurt and pain and turmoil, which manifests in indifference to his self. He says:

It’s ridiculous to think you can go through the world indifferent to it. I don’t believe in the word ‘apolitical’: if you are absenting yourself, that is a political act. That will make you feel hollow. The cure that literature can offer – the hope that we can give, is empathy. That is the panacaea. Literature can teach you that other people are people too. That is why we become so invested in telling the stories of others alongside ours. We believe in sharing other voices. That, to us, feels like engagement. The device of a book is to take you into that other world.

From the phrase from Memory: ‘It was disconcerting for Johnny that imaginary things can grow, as lucid as if they were true.’

Levithan seized here on the notion of ‘proper imagination.’ The power of the imagination can make things become real. Levithan wrote Boy Meets Boy as an editor, this was the book he wanted to exist. “Before this, all gay characters in novels were under a threat. To make this book shouldn’t have been a radical notion: but it was. And that was why it was important. The characters in the book weren’t defined by who they loved. That space in the pages made it feel like that space existed in the world. That effect, that is what a book can do.”

He carried on – I was typing more or less verbatim: “When you are reading a book, you are bringing yourself into the book. That is a powerful thing – understanding your empathy toward the people. That’s why our literature lives, and breathes, and grows.”

The next sentence: ‘He had always been the victim of stories, not only others but his own as well.’

Levithan says, “I didn’t grow up seeing myself in literature. The way to change this is to write. It is ignorance and indifference to think that stories aren’t at war all around you. We don’t have control of others’ stories, but as those things go wrong, we have control of our own stories.”

Every person Levithan has met since being in Christchurch has told him where they were when the earthquakes happened. This is a way of people gaining control over their own stories: it didn’t only happen to us, it was part of our story.

“Writers of YA literature need to include as many stories as possible. There is a benefit in that YA literature doesn’t need to overthrow eons of history – it has only existed for around 50 years. YA authors need to keep an ear out for stories that aren’t being told. That is part of their mission.” He noted that this isn’t something YA authors do in isolation: they get power through it, but they are nothing without the bloggers, the librarians, the teachers, overcoming condescension against YA literature. “We just need to not care if the cricics are condescending. We understand the power our words have.”

You Give Them Words
Levithan gives a lot of anti-censorship talks, and been on a lot of anti-censorship panels. He has heard stories of writers being pulled into a principal’s office and told ‘you can’t read your book here, or I’ll lose my job.’ His response is: “What is the point of keeping your job if you aren’t going to do your job.” He doesn’t know a teacher who went into teaching without wanting to teach kids things: librarians want to put books into kids’ hands. Parents want to teach their children. “Why do we have to keep fighting for things that are clearly basic equality?”

This part of the narration is abridged, and I sincerely hope that this will be published in full one day. Here is part of his talk called ‘You Give them Words.’

You are here for the inquisitive and the ignored. You are here because of your passion for people: to give them words… the truth is electricity to power them. You know that some of them struggle to rise against the power of their own thoughts. Some only feel their own isolation. Words can take you out of the band that believes in closed borders and closed minds. You give them words to know that all human beings were created equal. You give them words to show them the context. To bring out the meaning. If they do not know who they are, you give them words.

By learning the ways other people have told stories, you learn to tell your own. By telling our own, we become free. You have chosen this path not because it is easy, but because it matters. Thank you for leading us to the truth. Thank you for encouraging when you are not obligated to encourage.

Levithan went on to say: “The important thing is the readers. I am baffled when people talk about books as their own entity. As long asa book matters to a reader, it doesn’t matter where it is in relation to other books. The book is written to matter to a reader: no matter their age. That is what we pour into the book. We need this wonderful conspiracy of teachers, writers, readers etc – to give these kids don’t have access to the books they need.

Jane Higgins asked Levithan a question from the audience about hope in YA literature. He says, “Most YA authors have an ability to change things: the stories don’t have to reflect that hope, it’s not a requirement. I find more hope in a book where it tells you the way out of a problem: most will point towards how to make things better.” Even when things look bleak, you trust the reader to see the larger world and see how to stop the ultimate ending happening. You are hoping the reader gets angry, rather than giving up. His example was M T Anderson’s Feed, which is “scarily prophetic about our dependence on technology.”

I hope you have gained a flavour of this session, through my use of Levithan’s words. Please do read his books, and do your best to see him when he appears again tomorrow.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

The Margaret Mahy Lecture
9.30am – 10.30am, Saturday 27 August

Boy Meets Boy
by David Levithan
Published by HarperCollins
ISBN 9780007533039

Two Boys Kissing
by David Levithan
Text Publishing
9781922147486

most recent:
You Know me Well
by Nina Lacour and David Levithan
Text Publishing
9781925355529