Saturday, February 6, 2016

Owls Do Cry on a roll

Wenn Eulen Schrein
Janet Frame
 
A new German edition of Janet Frame's first novel Owls Do Cry is published this month.
(sublicensed paperback edition)
Owls Do Cry was first published in German translation in 1961 and has been reissued several times since then. (This is at least the 8th German edition, to my knowledge - not counting reprints.)
 
This new German edition comes hot on the heels of the new UK edition published by Virago Modern Classics, which is receiving some marvellous notices, including positive reviews in the Irish Times, the Independent, the Guardian, BBC Radio 4 and Radio Scotland.

Owls Do Cry, Virago Modern Classic January 2016
 
Here are some other current and recent international editions of Owls Do Cry.
 
A new American edition is forthcoming in 2017, 60 years after first publication.

Here is a link to the Janet Frame Facebook page album of some Owls Do Cry Covers.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

2016 Janet Frame Memorial Lecture


The timetables are out for the Writers Week at the New Zealand Festival (i.e. the Wellington Festival) always an exciting time for booklovers.

The 2016 Festival will again be hosting the Janet Frame Memorial Lecture to be given this year by author Philip Temple. His theme will be:

WHERE WE WERE, WHERE WE ARE NOW
 
"How much has changed for New Zealand writers in the last 50 years, and what has remained constant? For the ninth New Zealand Society of Authors Janet Frame Memorial Lecture, which coincides with the 50th anniversary edition of his book The Sea and the Snow, NZSA President of Honour Philip Temple shares both his own experience and his work on a biography of Maurice Shadbolt to illuminate the subject."
 
Saturday 12 March 2016
Noon
City Gallery, Wellington
Free Admission



 

Friday, January 29, 2016

"Remember me"

Janet Frame died 12 years ago today
on the 29th January 2004
at Dunedin Hospital, from leukaemia.
She died, alert and conscious, comforted in the arms of loved ones.
 
 This beautiful tribute to Janet Frame was first published on the 30th January 2004 in the Dominion Post and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the artist Tom Scott.
 
'Small Farewell' by Janet Frame 


Writing letters of goodbye
we are inclined to say
because we have read
or heard it said
or knew someone who likewise went away
that small details pester the memory.

In the corner closet of your eye
in the back room of seeing
that looks out on the backyard of yesterday
who can pretend to say
what you will muffle in moth balls
or soak with insect spray 

to stop the spread of memory’s decay?

I think all I can say
from hearing a ghost speak in a Shakespeare play
is, if you were Hamlet, and I your father’s ghost,
–Remember me. 



['Small Farewell' was first published posthumously in The Goose Bath, Random House NZ, 2006. Janet Frame's Selected Poems are available in the collection Storms Will Tell, Bloodaxe, 2008.]

Thursday, January 28, 2016

BBC Culture: What makes Owls Do Cry a literary classic?




There was another discussion of Janet Frame and her first novel Owls Do Cry last week on BBC Radio. Donna Coonan of Virago Modern Classics and writer and critic Stuart Kelly talked to Janice Forsyth of BBC Radio Scotland about what constitutes a literary classic.

Listen or download here: Revisiting Literary Classics (Janice Forsyth Show)

 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

BBC podcast: Margaret Drabble on Janet Frame



There was a most interesting discussion about Janet Frame last week on BBC Radio 4  between Woman's Hour presenter Jane Garvey and author Margaret Drabble.

This conversation (timed at 18.35 on the podcast) marked the reissue of Janet Frame's first novel Owls Do Cry as a Virago Modern Classic. This edition includes an Introduction written by Margaret Drabble for Owls Do Cry, a book she describes as 'riveting'.

Download or listen here.
 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Neil Hegarty On Janet Frame


'A song of survival: Neil Hegarty on Janet Frame and Owls Do Cry'

Such a thoughtful, fascinating and well-researched review of Janet Frame's Owls Do Cry in The Irish Times today! The new Virago Modern Classics edition is attracting some excellent commentary, and the time is certainly long overdue for a fresh perspective to be brought upon this classic novel and on Janet Frame's oeuvre in general:
"Owls Do Cry is a devastating reflection on the character of conventional society and the dangers that await those who reject its narrowness – and as such, is profoundly chilling. It is also a vivid social document, capturing the language and texture of the postwar period. It is a heartbreaking evocation of childhood and a child’s vision of the world; and not least, it is a work of considerable lyrical beauty."
 Hegarty gives some of the history of reception of Frame's debut novel and indeed the "prurient" and "unmistakably gendered" attention to analysing her private life "for evidence of madness or eccentricity".

But, he says, Frame survived, and the work she produced is her vindication:
"she emerged victorious – and the evidence of this victory lies not in parsing excessively the stuff of her life, but in reading what she created in the course of it."
 Bravo!

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/a-song-of-survival-neil-hegarty-on-janet-frame-and-owls-do-cry-1.2503588
 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Janet Frame: A chronology

 
Janet Frame 1924-2004
Photo: Karen Day
 
1924 Janet Paterson Frame is born in Dunedin, New Zealand
1943 – 1946 Studies at the University of Otago (English, French, Philosophy, Psychology)
1946 Publishes first adult story, ‘University Entrance’ in the New Zealand Listener
1952 The Lagoon and Other Stories published, wins Hubert Church Award for Prose
1957 Publishes first novel, Owls Do Cry
Signs with AM Heath literary agency, London, and Brandt & Brandt literary agency, New York
1958 Changes her name by deed poll to Nene Janet Paterson Clutha and reserves the name Janet Frame for her writing
1961 Faces in the Water (novel)
1962 The Edge of the Alphabet (novel)
1963 Scented Gardens for the Blind (novel)
The Reservoir: Stories and Sketches
Snowman, Snowman: Fables and Fantasies (stories)
1965  Robert Burns Fellow, University of Otago
The Adaptable Man (novel)
1966 A State of Siege (novel)
The Reservoir and Other Stories
1967  Residency at Yaddo Artists’ Community, Saratoga Springs, New York
The Pocket Mirror (poetry)
1968 The Rainbirds also known as Yellow Flowers in the Antipodean Room (novel)
1969 Residency at Yaddo
MacDowell Fellow, MacDowell Colony, New Hampshire
Mona Minim and the Smell of the Sun (children’s book)
1970 Residency at Yaddo
Intensive Care (novel)
1972 President of Honour, The New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN New Zealand Inc)
Daughter Buffalo (novel)
1974  Katherine Mansfield Fellow, Menton, France
1977 Gives paper at Cross-cultural Conference, East-West Centre, Hawaii
Guest of Honour, International PEN Congress, Sydney
1978 A State of Siege film adaptation by Vincent Ward
Honorary Doctorate of Literature from University of Otago
1979  Living in the Maniototo (novel)
1981 Signs with Curtis Brown Literary Agency, London and Sydney
1982 To the Is-land (autobiography volume 1)
1983 CBE (Commander of the British Empire)
You Are Now Entering the Human Heart (stories)
1984 Gives readings at International Authors’ Festival, Toronto
Gives readings at Christchurch Arts Festival
Turnovsky Prize for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts
An Angel at My Table (autobiography volume 2)
1985 The Envoy from Mirror City (autobiography volume 3)
1986 Honorary Foreign Member of American Academy of Arts and Letters
1987 Inaugural Frank Sargeson Fellow
1988 The Carpathians (novel)
1989 The Carpathians wins the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book
Omnibus edition of To the Is-land, An Angel at My Table and The Envoy from Mirror City published as An Autobiography (also known at The Complete Autobiography and An Angel at My Table)
1990 Member of the Order of New Zealand (New Zealand's highest honour)
An Angel at My Table film adaptation by Jane Campion
1992 Honorary Doctorate of Literature from University of Waikato
1993 Massey University Medal
Premi Brancati Prize, Italy
1994 President of Honour, The New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN New Zealand Inc)
Gives readings at International Festival of the Arts, Wellington as part of her public 70th Birthday Celebration
1996 Gabriela Mistral Medal, Chile
1999 Janet Frame establishes the Janet Frame Literary Trust
2003 Arts Foundation Icon Award
Inaugural Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement
2004 Janet Frame dies in Dunedin aged 79
2006 The Goose Bath (poems) published posthumously
2007 Janet Frame Literary Trust signs with The Wylie Agency New York and London
The Goose Bath wins the poetry category at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards
Towards Another Summer (novel, written 1963) published posthumously
2008 Storms Will Tell: Selected Poems published posthumously
2009 Prizes: Selected Short Stories also known as The Daylight and the Dust
2010 Dear Charles, Dear Janet: Frame & Brasch in Correspondence (fine edition)
2011 Janet Frame In Her Own Words (collected non-fiction writings)
2012 Gorse is Not People also known as Between My Father and the King (stories) published posthumously
2013 In the Memorial Room (novel, written 1974) published posthumously
The Mijo Tree (story, written 1957) published posthumously
2016 Jay to Bee: Janet Frame’s Letters to William (Bill) Theophilus Brown, 1969-71


 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Milestone for Counterpoint Press


"Quality, thoughtful publishing"

US independent literary publisher Counterpoint Press last year celebrated its 20th anniversary and this was noted in November 2015 by an interesting article in Publishers Weekly that gave some background to the history of the various imprints associated with Counterpoint LLC: Soft Skull, Counterpoint, Shoemaker & Hoard.

Counterpoint has published several of Janet Frame's posthumous and backlist titles. One of these, Between My Father and the King, was the book of theirs mentioned by Publishers Weekly that earned a front page spot in the New York Times Book Review:

"Reviews and critical success have also increased. Since the fall of 2013, the press has had 18 reviews in the New York Times Book Review, with one title making the cover."


In mid-2016 Counterpoint will release the first volume of Janet Frame's letters to her friend Bill Brown, Jay to Bee, and a fresh American edition of her autobiography An Angel at My Table is being prepared for publication later in the year.

"They publish books that matter."



 Counterpoint's Janet Frame editions:

 
 


 

Monday, January 18, 2016

There's nothing like a Dame


When Janet Frame was awarded the CBE in 1983, she said: “I’m pleased to be honoured for myself and for other writers, for it is a way of accepting writers into the esteemed company of athletes and accountants and thus recognising them as part of our daily life.” She did, however, admit “a modicum of regret” that she had not achieved the title “Dame Frame”.

(Source: 'A Biographical Note' Scoop, 29 January 2004)

Janet Frame later skipped the opportunity to become a Dame when in 1990 she was awarded New Zealand's highest honour, membership of the Order of New Zealand.

"Anyway, my American friends call me a dame," she used to say.

I know that Janet would have been delighted to hear that Jane Campion has been appointed that elusive title of 'Dame' by the New Zealand Government in the 2016 New Year Honours. It's a long-overdue recognition on the part of Campion's home country. Campion has had a stellar film-making career that of course included AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE, that brilliant and much-loved screen adaptation of Janet Frame's autobiography, that first brought Jane Campion to the attention of the general public around the world. ANGEL was released in 35 countries and continues to be widely screened to this day.

Congratulations Dame Jane! (Janet would be just a bit jealous.)

NZ ONSCREEN tribute on the occasion of Jane Campion being named Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.




 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Naming Slanderers #1






Whilst engaged in one of my occasional 'rants' against various injustices, I have mentioned more than once that I (and the Janet Frame Literary Trust that I work for) am regularly publicly 'slandered'. I'm talking here about:
  • character assassination
  • defamation
  • libel
For all these it is necessary that a person's claims are not true. They are lies.

It's not slander if it's TRUE. It's not slander if you're dead either. You can't slander the dead. (You can 'piss' on their grave, but that's another story. And it's not illegal, it's just beneath contempt.)

A person is entitled to their own opinion, and they are entitled to criticise someone whose actions they disagree with, but they are NOT entitled to invent their own FACTS, especially if they choose to use those lies maliciously to deliberately attempt to harm the reputation of a person or an organisation.

So, call me a fat witch - that's not slander. (It's just pathetic of you, especially if you are a corpulent old walrus yourself!)

But start saying that I have mismanaged the job that Janet Frame gave me to do, and claim specifically that I have 'closed down' the dissemination of her work to the detriment of her 'reputation' - and you have technically broken the law.

Lucky for most of the people that defame me and the Janet Frame estate, we can't be bothered wasting time and money holding them to account for their poisonous lies (though I have assiduously kept screenshots over the years).

But there must be some remedy for the particularly blatant and foolish slanderer, short of litigation. Their poisonous innuendo spreads inexorably and it works its foul way through a group of people and does its damage.

I would like to put some of this on record so that at least some reasonable people in the future, when looking through all the evidence, will think, "Bloody hell, what a bunch of arseholes they are, slagging off people who are just doing their job - and doing it reasonably well too, for the most part."

(It's not 'slander' if you are an 'asshole'.)

I thought I would start a new occasional series where I would name a blatant liar who has gone out of their way to try to blacken the good name of the Janet Frame estate.

Naming Slanderers #1

#1 is Mark Hubbard, willing member of the NZ Lit Twitterati bully boys (and girls) who regularly "have a go" at me and Janet Frame and her estate. (Of course they are also "having a go" at her - because she asked me to do what I do. They pretend they are defending her 'reputation' against me! What nonsense. Often enough, if you Google that person further, who is whining on about the 'harm' Pamela Gordon does to her aunt's reputation, you find them admit they have not even read Janet Frame, and/or that they "don't like her stuff". So why should they care about her 'reputation'? They don't. They are just joining in with the 'pile-on', without even knowing what they are talking about...)

Here's a recent example:

 “ I think copyright should vest in the author, and die with them, otherwise artistic use has to be negotiated with beneficiaries and their lawyers, and that is to close down use almost completely to the detriment of the author - for example, Janet Frame's work can barely - if at all - be anthologised since her death.
~ Mark Hubbard (Saturday, October 10, 2015)http://lifebehindtheirondrape.blogspot.co.nz/2015/10/copyright-originality-and-why-not-use.html

 "Janet Frame's work can barely - if at all - be anthologised since her death.” ~ (M.  Hubbard)

A statement that defames Janet Frame's legal representatives... because it is not true.

Wowee- that is one hell of a straw man Mr Hubbard has constructed. Sounds like that ol' Janet Frame estate is just lousy...

Wow - did they really "close down use"... ?? Nope, they did not!

Here are some facts, as represented in the three following photographs:

(1) These (above) are some of the published Janet Frame works since Janet Frame's death in 2004: reprints, new editions, new titles, extended licences and translations of previously published as well as posthumously published works. All of these books except 10 of them from one foreign publisher (that has been given an extended licence), are new editions or reprints and all the books required contract negotiations.
Countries include: New Zealand, Australia, USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Romania, Japan, Slovenia, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Turkey, Norway, Denmark, Brazil, Portugal, Slovakia, Russia, South Korea. Publications and translations not pictured here have also been negotiated with: Finland, Mexico, Czech Republic, Israel, Iran, Serbia, etc...

(2) The volumes on this shelf (above) mostly involved granting permission to use quotations and excerpts in non-fiction books as well as in educational texts. Some involved extensive and generous cooperation with the authors and editors of academic texts.
These are just the tip of the iceberg as the pictured books do not include the many other academic papers and theses and journals that have quoted Frame's work with permission, the authors of which have not provided gratis copies to the estate. There are also many foreign educational and literary anthologies not represented here - some (in India and the USA for example) have print runs running in to the hundreds of 1000s, and include poems or stories by Janet Frame with permission.
Increasingly foreign permissions especially in places like the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden, involve digital texts that students access by means of passwords.
The Janet Frame Estate has a literary agency based in New York and London that mediates most of these international anthology and educational permissions with the approval of the Frame executor.


(3) This (above) is a shelf of mostly New Zealand anthologies that all include work by Janet Frame (it can be hard to get the foreign publishers to supply us with a gratis copy as international postage is so expensive and fraught - on the flipside of that, foreign deals do pay international market rates for excerpts from world-class authors such as Janet Frame, unlike NZ publishers, who usually pay only a pittance - if anything - but do at least usually provide a gratis copy of the book.)

All these books pictured were also all published since Frame's death, with the approval of Janet Frame's chosen legal representatives. (Her charitable trust is her beneficiary.)

As well as all these there have been countless posters, tapes, bookmarks, postcards, brochures and booklets produced with our permission. Songs have been composed to Frame's words, artworks made. Theatrical performances (eg Mona Minim in the Dutch language). Radio broadcasts and adaptations of poetry. Film adaptations of poetry and short stories. Etc. Etc.

This is not "shutting down" Frame!

And apart from all this - countless other works have been produced and published that have used the reasonable provision of "fair use" quotation, for the appropriate purposes.

If you want to quote Frame in your novel or your poem, you do need to ask permission, and many people have asked us and been granted that.

There has only been one very notable occasion when negotiations for use of Janet Frame copyright in an anthology failed (after her death, that is: she was famous for being extremely picky about what was reproduced and in which contexts, and she instructed her executors to continue these high standards).

And you can read that sorry tale here:

Canon Fodder: A response to a paper by Jane Stafford

I hope that it is now clear how much of a lie is Mark Hubbard's statement:

 "Janet Frame's work can barely - if at all - be anthologised since her death.


[Screenshot retrieved 30 October 2015]

 Here [following] are some old screenshots - not really libellous, just blowhard ad hominem stuff, typically vacuous Twitter conversation full of half-truth and speculation, in which a busybody know-it-all presumes to know what the *role* is of the literary executor of a great writer.
And two men agree that the autobiography of a great woman writer is just a fiction about someone who never existed, and that her real life identity is up for grabs less than ten years after her death.

Twitter screenshot: A mis-remembered, misunderstood half-truth is dismembered and reconstituted and used to attempt to discredit the Frame executor who has made a public statement about an unconnected ethical issue:








Isn't that just like the internet, where some nobody (Hubbard) who clearly doesn't know any of the facts about a certain 'role' nevertheless decides he knows what somebody's 'role' is!

I've just been reading Jon Ronson's excellent book So You've Been Publicly Shamed on the Internet where he investigates the phenomenon of social media shaming.

It was therapeutic to read, as someone who has been the target of some vicious attacks every time I have 'dared' to make a public statement to correct some error of fact, or had the temerity to express an opinion contrary to that of the NZ Literary establishment.

Rather than engaging with my arguments, the tendency of Twitter is to rush to discredit me and question my right to even speak at all. (This is called an 'ad hominem' attack.)  Hubbard contends that I have no right to speak publicly at all to defend my aunt from the myths and lies about her. That's not my 'role'.

"Having an opinion while female" or even "speaking while female" is still regarded as a terrible crime, sadly.

Hopefully as a result of Ronson's fine work, some Twitterers at least will learn to think twice before they rush to condemn someone on the basis of hearsay.

UPDATE 6 February 2016:

Still telling lies! Mark Hubbard is still guilty of defamation, in claiming wrongfully that the Janet Frame estate does not allow her work to be anthologised:


Bizarrely, Hubbard, who is apparently himself an accountant, accuses the personnel associated with literary estates of being 'suits'.

 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Janet Frame poem on a Krakow wall


Janet Frame's short but punchy poem 'Before I get into sleep with you' was projected on a wall in Krakow, Poland as part of an eMultipoetry project to promote interaction between UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Janet Frame's poem was translated into Polish by Anna Chociej:

 
Other Dunedin City of Literature poets to light up the Krakow night as part of the eMultipoetry collaboration include Emma Neale, Charles Brasch, Vincent O'Sullivan and David Eggleton.
 
Otago Daily Times report, 16 January 2016

 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

VMC OWLS DO CRY Publication Day

14 January 2016
It's publication day in the UK for the latest edition of Janet Frame's first novel Owls Do Cry.
Publisher Little, Brown has produced a beautiful paperback in the Virago Modern Classics imprint and this edition is also available as an ebook.
There is an illuminating introduction by Margaret Drabble.
 
 
I love the cover - the woman looks as though she is taking a selfie! Right up to date! And that's the general opinion of Frame's work - it's fresh and relevant still, even nearly 60 years after it was first published. (And Owls Do Cry has never been out of print in all that time.)
 
 As Man Booker winner Eleanor Catton, Frame's fellow Kiwi, said at the Jaipur Literature Festival:
 
"Janet Frame is the greatest New Zealand writer. She is utterly herself. Any one of her books could be published today and it would be ground-breaking."
 

As with the other Janet Frame books available from Virago Press, the VMC edition of Owls Do Cry will be widely available around the world in non-English-speaking countries (where there is nevertheless a demand for quality English literature!) and also in British Commonwealth territories except for New Zealand and Australia where for Owls Do Cry we are served well by the Text Classics edition published by Text Publishing of Melbourne.


 There are plans afoot to release a new American edition in 2017 to mark the 60th anniversary of first publication.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A first volume of Janet Frame's letters

 
Jay to Bee
 Janet Frame's Letters to William Theophilus Brown
 
Editor: Denis Harold
Publisher: Counterpoint Press, USA
Date: April 12, 2016
Hardcover: 464 pages
Size: 6 x 9 "
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1619027283
ISBN-13: 978-1619027282


Publisher's Catalogue Copy:

During her time at an artists’ colony in New Hampshire, Janet Frame met California painter William Theophilus ('Bill') Brown, and their friendship resulted in a whimsical and artistic correspondence. In Brown, Frame found an ideal listener who inspired her to take the art of letter writing to new creative heights; over the course of their correspondence, Frame included character sketches, personal disclosures, invented tales, and dozens of her own doodles and collages.

This compilation of nearly 140 letters, accompanied by hundreds of original illustrations, has been published nowhere else in the world, including Frame’s home country of New Zealand. This moving and enlightening correspondence opens up the hopes, fears, joys, and inner machinations of one of the world’s greatest writers. The closeness and intimacy of the two artists allows for unfettered wordplay and creativity, where Janet is 'Jay' and Bill is 'Bee'; the result is a book that vividly captures the brilliantly unique wit that was Janet Frame.
 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

'The Suicides' by Janet Frame


The Suicides
 

It is hard for us to enter
the kind of despair they must have known
and because it is hard we must get in by breaking
the lock if necessary for we have not the key,
though for them there was no lock and the surrounding walls
were supple, receiving as waves, and they drowned
though not lovingly; it is we only
who must enter in this way.

Temptations will beset us, once we are in.
We may want to catalogue what they have stolen.
We may feel suspicion; we may even criticize the d├ęcor
of their suicidal despair, may perhaps feel
it was incongruously comfortable.

Knowing the temptations then
let us go in
deep to their despair and their skin and know
they died because words they had spoken
returned always homeless to them.
 
 
Janet Frame
 
First published in The Pocket Mirror (George Braziller, 1967)
 
Collected in Storms Will Tell (Bloodaxe Books, 2008)


 Cover Illustration: 'The Stolen Child' by Tabitha Vevers
 

A-Level study notes for Janet Frame's 'The Bath'


 
Janet Frame's classic short story 'The Bath' is a perennial favourite for YA students to explore in schools and colleges around the world. It's one of the short stories prescribed for Cambridge International’s AS & A-Level Literature course. Recently I came across this study guide (pictured above) written especially for it.
 
The story itself is available in a number of educational anthologies and also in the collections of Janet Frame stories titled The Daylight and the Dust (published by Virago Modern Classics and Random House Australia) and Prizes (published by Vintage NZ and Counterpoint USA).
 

The Daylight and the Dust by Janet Frame is available as a paperback and as an e-book.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Evans Effect


After Janet Frame's death in 2004, academic Patrick Evans showed what he really thought of Frame's life's work:

 "a survey of local libraries in the Christchurch area I made 25 years ago revealed that some titles were never taken out from one year’s end to the next, making posthumous media-generated interest in possibly unpublished work a joke – why hunger for unpublished writing when hardly anyone has read what’s already there?"

 ~
Patrick Evans 'Janet Frame: The "Frame" Effect', NZ Books, September 2004

 Please note carefully that Evans had to go back 25 YEARS to locate his 'evidence' for Frame's alleged unpopularity.


Speaking in 2004, Evans was resurrecting anecdotal 'evidence' from a 'survey' of suburban libraries that he claimed to have 'made' in 1979

Outrageous!

Patrick Evans thus omitted from consideration the SIX books by Janet Frame that she published between 1979 and 1989. (Living in the Maniototo, The Carpathians, You Are Now Entering the Human Heart, To the Is-Land, An Angel at My Table, and The Envoy from Mirror City).

All of these books were bestsellers in NZ terms, and some of them were bestsellers internationally too. As had been several of the works published before 1979.

Seriously? How can the editor(s) of this magazine (NZ Books), when fact-checking the article, not have challenged Evans's non-scientific and patently fraudulent claim that "hardly anyone has read" the published works of Janet Frame, when Evans excluded 25 years of her career from the discussion?

In order to find a time when "some" (not all!) of Janet Frame's titles had not been taken out of some provincial libraries over a one-year period, Evans had to resort back to a moment one whole quarter of a century before her death.

By 1979 Frame had published nine novels, several volumes of stories, a book of poetry and a children's book, and one can accept that some of those fourteen titles were not checked out of 'local' Canterbury libraries in 1979. There had not been a new Janet Frame book since 1972, so most readers of literary fiction would have already read her earlier published work.

"some titles were never taken out from one year's end to the next"

Which ones were taken out though, I wonder?

I would bet good money on the ones that were taken out (after all, I now sign the contracts for translations and new editions in New Zealand and around the world): The Lagoon, Owls Do Cry, Faces in the Water, The Pocket Mirror, Scented Gardens For the Blind, and A State of Siege are among the most obvious and most popular titles  - all were bestsellers in New Zealand terms, and all (like all Frame's other titles) were published internationally. And all have been translated around the world to this day. Classics.

 But Evans is not going to spoil his malicious innuendo with any facts about the books that were taken home by readers between 1978 and 1979. That would get in the way of his aim of belittling the worth of Janet Frame's writing, a campaign he had already been embarked on for those 25 years since his falling out with Frame in 1978.

Evans goes on in his obituary (should we call it an oh-bitchery?) to explain the non-existent 'neglect' of Frame's writing:


"This neglect was understandable, given the difficulty and sheer gloominess of her fiction; I can recall reading her novels in order of publication during a grey Christchurch winter many years ago, and slowly subsiding into despair: what was the point of it all, why go on living?" (Patrick Evans, 2004)

Here's one more fraudulent gem of tall-poppy hatred from Evans 2004:

"But will we still “like Janet Frame” now we don’t have that living author to infuse an artificial life into the writing; will she be read by those of our descendants who read at all? I don’t think so, not if she has been so unread in her time."

"not if she has been so unread in her time" (Oh don't you mean, 'so unread' in 1978-1979, in suburban Christchurch, and not all her books were neglected either...?)

There is hardly any literary author in NZ who has outsold Janet Frame or been translated as widely over as many years, and whose work is as deeply valued both by academics and the general reader, either in 1979 or in 2004 or in 2015.

Evans has been hating on Frame for decades and the feeling was mutual. She regarded him as a stalker. To call his 'real person fiction' novel and play GIFTED a "love letter" is grievously misguided. It is a poison pen letter from an old enemy.



[Screenshot]
The article is archived on the NZ Books website, with the wrong date and the wrong title.

The title was actually: 'Janet Frame: The "Frame" Effect'

The date was actually September 2004 (not 2003). (Of course, because Frame didn't die until January 2004! Remember what I said before about how often the date of Janet Frame's death is rendered incorrectly by the NZ Lit Establishment?)

And the content of the article was wrong in just about every way as per usual with Patrick Evans when he gets on his Janet Frame bandwagon.

 He just makes it up.
Which was her own complaint to him in 1978:

"Perhaps you feel that inaccuracies of fact don’t matter?"
~ Janet Frame to Patrick Evans (1978)
(Quoted in Wrestling with the Angel: A Life of Janet Frame by Michael King)

 Unbelievably, from where I speak in 2015, the Patrick Evans article now known as 'The Frame Effect' has been quoted seriously all over Frame studies, in refereed journals, and it has even inspired the name of a work of Frame scholarship: The Frame Function by Jan Cronin.

Claims made by Patrick Evans in the obituary, such as that "hardly anyone has read" Janet Frame and that "the difficulty and sheer gloominess" of her work discourages all but the bravest of the Elect in the highest Ivory Towers, are unsubstantiated and fraudulent claims, and yet they are repeated and widely circulated to this day, out of ignorance, stupidity - or malice.

I call it the Evans Effect.

"Poems are magical"


2015 Janet Frame Literary Trust Poetry Prize winner David Eggleton recently answered a few questions for the Sunday-Star Times.

David Eggleton
Otago University Press 2015