Eulogy for Caro

2014_Apt_Caro laughing with hat girls lunch

I still go to my phone, to dial you up on FaceTime to see you folding your washing while we talk, to laugh, to talk about our children, to plan the next time we can be around a table together, to bitch, to talk work and to reminisce about the wonderful times we’ve had in six different countries over 19 years.

I’ll always remember the first time and the last time I saw you. The first time was at L’Oreal in London. You were the technical centre manager and I was the temp. You had long red hair with a fringe—only until one of the L’Oreal hairdressers took control! I forgot sometimes that you were nine years older than me. You’d had a whole life before we met. We were friends immediately, I think because we understood each other’s backgrounds, both being Kiwis. You were a hard worker; you were brilliantly funny but sensible at the same time. You were so private. Getting to know you was like unwrapping a present—first the wrapping paper, then the tissue and then opening the box. I was proud you chose me as your friend, that you let me unwrap you and be delighted at the gift of your friendship.

2001_Wedding reception_Caro and CB

Caro on I on her wedding day, 2001, Provence, France

So then, the last time I saw you. It was on FaceTime and you were lying in your bed in Prague, ten days before you died. You lay against white pillows, a plump white duvet pulled up to your chin, against a white wall, luminescent skin and cropped strawberry blonde hair, barely there after all the treatment—a beautiful white angel. I’d had one of those awful, yelly, afternoons with my children and, as sick as you were, you gave me the best advice, as always. You were scared about going to Paris for treatment but knew you’d go. At one point you looked down at your hands, then said quietly, ‘I’m ready to go’, and I knew you were saying goodbye.

I couldn’t have loved you more at that moment. Your braveness astounded me.

And in between the first and the last times I saw you was every conceivable celebration—our weddings, the births of our children, and crisscrossing the globe for catch-ups. I am so grateful for the week our families had together at Castellet in 2014, where I was reminded that you were a wonderful mum, a great cook, still hilarious. It was wonderful to see that after years abroad, you’d found your home in that small village in Provence, surrounded by the lavender you so loved.

2014_Castellet_Caros cropped amazing treasure hunt

The treasure hunt Caro organised for our children, August 2014, Castellet, France

Be at peace, darling friend, and know that you will always be remembered.

Thank you for being my brilliant friend.

2014_Apt_Caro CROPPED striding ahead gorgeous

 

Louise Maich on The Psychology of a Second Draft

We don’t often have the privilege to get inside another writer’s mind to see how they fared throughout the arduous process of beginning writing, then finishing, a book. Louise Maich wrote this wonderful letter after reading my post The Psychology of a Second Draft. She has agreed for me to publish it here. Thank you, Louise.

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Dear Caroline,

Firstly, congratulations on winning the Lilian Ida Smith Award. I was shortlisted into the final six, and that has given me a huge boost of confidence to continue on and see this manuscript through to publication. As for this next draft, your post, The Psychology of a Second Draft, caught my attention.

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Auckland Writers Festival: Quote of the Session: Petina Gappah

Gappah Petina

Auckland Writers Festival: Sunday 15 May @ 3pm: A Zest for Life: Petina Gappah, Zimbabwe’s answer to Zadie Smith, and author of The Book of Memory, in conversation with Bianca Zander.

On how Petina fits writing into her busy life as a lawyer and mother:

“Since I had my son 12 years ago…I haven’t slept. I’m not as efficient as Margaret Thatcher, who got by on four hours, perhaps that’s why she was so cranky. I get by on about five.” – Petina Gappah

Auckland Writers Festival: Quote of the Session: In Praise of Ferrante

In Praise of Ferrantee

Auckland Writers Festival: Sunday 15 May @ 1.30pm: In Praise of Ferrante: Ferrante translator Ann Goldstein joins writers Kate de Goldi and Giovanni Tiso to dissect the anonymous author Elena Ferrante’s infamous Neapolitan novels.

“In the beginning she wanted to protect herself and her family. Also, once she’d written the book it was separate from her, it didn’t need her. For myself, I feel the author of the books is a strong personality—for I think it is a she—I feel she is a strong person who is not the narrator. There’s an intelligence behind the writing that is the person. And I don’t need to know anything else.” – Anne Goldstein (Elena Ferrante translator)

Auckland Writers Festival 2016: Quote of the Session: Jenny Haworth

Haworth, Jenny

Auckland Writers Festival: Sunday 15 May @ 10.15am: Recording the War: Jenny Haworth (author and publisher), introduced by Caroline Barron.

“He (Nugent Welsh, war artist) painted these pictures (of bombed out villages and historic buildings) to show the cost of war. That war has no historical respect.” – Jenny Haworth

 

 

Auckland Writers Festival 2016: Quote of the Session: Marlon James

James, Marlon

Auckland Writers Festival 2016: Saturday 14 May @ 10.30am: A History in Seven Killings: Marlon James (Man Booker Prize-winning author) in conversation with Noelle McCarthy.

“You have to risk pornography when writing sex, violence or love. You have to risk going too far. Or you risk failure of nerves, or worse, space-break sex.” – Marlon James

Auckland Writers Festival 2016: Quote of the Session: Vivian Gornick

Gornick, VivianAuckland Writers Festival: Friday 13 May: 4pm: The Odd Woman and the City: Vivian Gornick (New York journalist, essayist and critic) in conversation with Jolisa Gracewood.

“I see New York at eye level. I never look up. On the street the feeling is the same. It’s the blissful anonymity of the crowd. You either attach to it immediately or you don’t. It’s all temperamental.” – Vivian Gornick