Hooray for Alec Patric! His book ‘Black Rock White City’ just won the Miles Franklin Award for best book. And that is a big ole deal, as it’s Australia’s premier literary prize, and is worth a whopping $60,000 AUD. Not bad for a man who works in a St Kilda book store and struggled to get published.
I gave the book five stars on Goodreads back in June 2015—click on the link to read my review.
And, after meeting Alec in Melbourne, we had a lovely, long conversation over email. Click on the link to read some wonderful insights into a writer’s mind.
She eventually married an English country squire and lived the kind of life unimaginable to her as a girl. All the while she is focussed on preserving and promoting traditional Maori culture, using this as her thesis topic for anthropology studies at Oxford University in 1926, although she died in 1930 before it was published (it was published eight years later by a friend).
No wonder David Andrews was (clearly) fascinated by his subject. I am grateful to him for researching, collating and preserving Papakura’s story for future generations. He travelled far and wide and spent a lot of money piecing together her life. However, the writing often rambles and is repetitive, and the entire book is in need of a thorough edit. Don’t get me started on the random spaces before commas and other layout issues! Continue reading
Nederlands Dans Theater at The Civic Theatre, Auckland, New Zealand, 29 July 2016
Safe as Houses
Darkness and light
Shadow and illumination
Incogitable strength cranes limbs
A life in the hinge of an ankle
The vanishing ballet.
Woke up Blind
An entire dance to one haunting, lingering Jeff Buckley note
“Burning holes with eyes of liquid brown”
Pulling and pushing
Hissing angry copulating frenzied love
Trapped inside the mind
Breakdown in communication
Together again. Alone.
He’s here from upstairs.
Dancers slide and drip over the
The ability to proliferate conflict
light years away, from the
safety of the boardroom table.
Traitorous switched roles
Rapture and torment
Upstairs, and beneath a table.
A decision made?
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.
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.
Be at peace, darling friend, and know that you will always be remembered.
Thank you for being my brilliant friend.