Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cover Crazy

Notes from the recent Auckland Writers & Readers Festival (I love how they include the reader in their festival heading):

On New Yorker Night
...with Hendrik Hertzberg, James Surowiecki, Judith Thurman and Rhonda Sherman. As I expected, it was a fawning session where Aucklanders got a chance to be charmed and bedazzled by these superstars of journalism. I quite enjoyed it. If you were expecting something meatier, you should have gone to the other events that were dedicated to just one author.

Only one thing stuck out sorely, and that was an audience member at the front who was very eager to ask the first question, only to embarrass the rest of us by plugging his own book to the panel. Hertzberg responded kindly by suggesting the person advertise his book on Amazon and get friends to write good reviews for it. The person in question, though well-spoken, was very long-winded. He seemed oblivious to the increasing annoyance of the rest of the audience. It reminded me to never expect other people to be as enthusiastic as you are about your own creation - market it tastefully (I guess that's what agents are for)!

An Hour With Lloyd Jones
I learned a lot about the writing process from this event, as LloydJones proved to be a humble and generous speaker. He said that the most important aspect of a novel is its voice, because it must be a voice that the reader trusts and is willing to follow anywhere.

An Hour With Tash Aw
With his books displayed everywhere at the moment, Tash Aw's session was very popular. I couldn't help noticing what a decent person he is, as he filled up his chairperson's (writer Paula Morris) glass with water before his, even though she had her own bottle of water. He spoke very well, and fielded even the most inane question from the audience with an interesting answer. Judging from the responses I overheard, the audience was satisfied and impressed.

Notes On The Book Covers Above (Images taken from Fourth Estate/HarperCollins and Guardian)
Mr Pip's latest paperback incarnation featuring cut paper artwork was designed by Petra Börner.

The above version of Tash Aw's latest book, Map of the Invisible World, is not available in New Zealand, as far as I know. We only get his paperbacks & this delicious design is the hardback version. The map image was reproduced courtesy of The Map Room, Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam. This is their website & it's a veritable goldmine for Dutch colonial maps! Gorgeous.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

This is not an art review

When I see the name Lindy Lee, I think 'photocopies' because of works like these.

But her current show at Roslyn Oxley9 has no such thing. Instead, there are lots of works on paper where she had burnt holes in the paper. (I couldn't help noticing the marketing device on the price list: she lists 'fire' as one of the materials in the descriptions of the works; the exhibition blurb links fire to Zen philosophy and dragon lore.)

There are also bronze works attached to the wall. She had flung molten bronze onto the floor - the way Max Gimblett would fling paint, I suppose, after much meditation - and cooled them.

To be honest, I don't buy the blurb. It says, "The mark that results encapsulates the totality of the universe – the sum of all conditions, which underlie the creation of ‘this’ moment". It's a little far-reaching for the work.

That said, I kinda like the show. It's not interesting, but it is comforting, somehow, the way the interior of an old church would seem comforting to an atheist. I'm not sure if the work itself believes in order, maybe not, but the marks are very ordered and there is a pristine quality to the show.