Friday, January 30, 2009

In other words: hacia otro verano

In the mail bag today - the first translation of Towards Another Summer to be released! Always exciting to see a foreign edition.

The publicity for Seix Barral's Spanish edition makes full use of the rave reviews from all around the world, for the posthumously published novel.

Thanks to Google I managed to locate a review of the Spanish edition on literary blog Literatúrate ("blog sobre libros y literatura").

The Spanish translation for Hacia otro verano was done by Aleix Montoto.

Spanish publisher Seix Barral has also reissued the three-volume autobiography, which was first published in Spain in 1991.

I'm looking forward to seeing the Italian, German, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Brazilian Portuguese, Turkish, Norwegian and French translations of Towards Another Summer before too long. And I expect to hear of deals in more languages as well, before the international interest in this exquisitely written novel that was hidden for so long, is satisfied.

Yesterday the contract arrived formalising the agreement for the upcoming US edition. That's kind of a foreign language from a Kiwi perspective. Janet Frame's books were 'translated' into American in the past. Mind you, since then US spelling has spread around the rest of the world quite quickly thanks to computer spell-check programmes (a word which the computer itself insists on correcting to programs).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fifth Anniversary

Lunching with friends at Eureka Café Dunedin, 2003

Today marks the fifth anniversary of Janet Frame's death in Dunedin on the 29th January 2004.

Janet Frame was fond of a good meal in the company of friends and family, and so to commemorate her anniversary, the Janet Frame Literary Trust hosted a lunch at one of Janet's favourite cafés, Eureka.

The gathering was happy and chatty, not formal at all, although we did pause a couple of times to remember, and to take stock.

The first advance copy of Prizes, the beautiful new selected published stories (to be released by Random House NZ on the 20th February) had just arrived and was there for us to admire. Its release will complete the bringing back into print in New Zealand, of all Janet Frame's previously published work. For this achievement, and for much else, the mood of the party was one of celebration and of gratitude for the privilege of being associated with Janet Frame's legacy.

In Memoriam 28 August 1924 - 29 January 2004

The hearse carrying Janet Frame's coffin heads past "Bill Manhire's father's pub".

St Kilda, Dunedin, 2004

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Literary Map

"Janet Frame Way" can be found in Upper Hutt, Wellington, just off "Katherine Mansfield Drive".

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tourist Treasure

Alison Albiston, one of the founding trustees of the Eden Street Trust, poses in front of Janet Frame's childhood home.

The Otago Daily Times has reported an increase in the number of overseas visitors to the Frame house in Oamaru this summer.

The article on the success of the 56 Eden Street project appeared late in December and was graced by several photographs of the house and of its genial curator Ralph Sherwood.

I was speaking to Ralph on the phone today and he confirmed that numbers are up this year, and that he has welcomed quite a few fans from the UK (among other places), enthusiastic to see the house after having read about Oamaru in Towards Another Summer.

The posthumous novel has attracted a lot of positive attention in the UK since Virago Press released it in July 2008. There have been several reprints and the paperback is due to be released mid-2009.

Virago issued an attractive new edition of Janet Frame's autobiography An Angel at My Table in January 2008, complete with an updated set of photographs, and this will also have served to refresh the interest of the UK reading public in Janet Frame's life and work.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Day of the Sheep

At the very first opening of the Frame house in Oamaru to the public in November 2005, a marquee was erected in the back yard of 56 Eden Street. Members of the public and supporters of the Janet Frame Eden Street Trust listened to speeches and were treated to a reading of excerpts from Janet Frame's work by actors Hilary Norris and Prue Clark from Dunedin performance group Panache.

At some stage during the festivities, somebody noticed that a lone black sheep was standing on the hill behind the house and was looking over the back fence into the property.

Bill Tramposch, former CEO of NZ's Historic Places Trust, and founding member of the Eden Street Trust, who with his wife Peggy originally had the vision to purchase and restore Janet Frame's childhood home, is here pictured with the sheep he fondly nicknamed "Janet".

Thursday, January 8, 2009

'Dot': A new short story by Janet Frame

Here's some good news!

A previously unpublished short story by Janet Frame appears in the latest issue of independent New York literary magazine A Public Space.

To order a copy of Issue 7 or to subscribe to the magazine, here is the link: [sold out]

UPDATE December 2014

The story 'Dot' has since been published in Janet Frame's posthumous collection of stories, which is available in several different editions (hb, pb, ebook):

Gorse is Not People: New and Uncollected Stories Penguin New Zealand (hardback 2012)

Between My Father and the King: New and Uncollected Stories Counterpoint Press, USA, (hardback 2012, paperback 2013, ebook 2013)

Between My Father and the King:New and Uncollected Stories Wilkins Farago, Australia (paperback 2013)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Weather Report

A brief cold snap has dissipated and heat wave conditions prevail over most of Aotearoa New Zealand. Christchurch has enjoyed a high of 32 degrees C with a light nor'wester today. It's very warm in Dunedin too. The school holidays roll onwards and much of the country is still at the beach or at the lake.

Perfect timing for the NZ Listener's "Feast of Fiction" - the summer reading issue packed with some extremely appetising-looking fiction and poetry.

The Listener has changed its political spots dramatically, in recent years, and it has adopted a blatantly right wing bias in its opinion pages. I know that this partisanship has put many readers off (myself included). But there is one aspect of the Listener that in my opinion still makes it indispensable in NZ cultural life: the Arts & Books section.

It's especially heartwarming to see the poetry in this summer reading issue. Congratulations to the Listener for actually listening to the protests of NZ readers and writers who were outraged by the suggestion that the new poetry feature might be axed from the pages of the venerable weekly magazine, as a cost-cutting measure.

Lively discussions took place! Probably the most influential forum was Graham Beattie's Bookman Blog. The decision was fortunately rescinded. Poetry again graces the pages of the Listener.

That's a relief, because many New Zealand authors had their first significant publication in the Listener (Janet Frame was one of them), and it is to be hoped that the Listener will continue to provide a forum for upcoming generations of Kiwi writers.

One of the short stories in the New Zealand Listener Arts & Books January 10-16 2009 Vol 217 No 3583, is by Janet Frame.

"A Boy's Will" was first published in Landfall in 1966 but Janet never included it in any of her story collections, so it's not well known. It's one of several 'uncollected' stories that the estate has included in the upcoming volume PRIZES: SELECTED SHORT STORIES, to be published by VINTAGE NZ February 2009.

This comprehensive new selection of Janet Frame's published stories has also been sold to Random House Australia, Virago for the UK and Canada, and Counterpoint in the USA. It will appear in those countries at a later date.

More on PRIZES as the time comes! Meanwhile I'm looking forward to reading all the other Listener stories and poems. The "Feast of Fiction" would be great for beach reading, but also to take along if travelling, which is convenient for me as I can take the Listener issue with me tomorrow as I embark on a long bus and train journey.

I'm off to attend a family funeral. One of Janet Frame's favourite cousins has died as the result of a motorbike accident, and his passing has sadly added to the distressing holiday road toll that New Zealand has suffered this year.

There aren't many of that generation left in our extended family. My second cousin would have been 90 this year and as you'd expect from the information that he was still out riding on his motorbike at that age, he was full of vitality to the end.

I could never believe he was as old as he said he was. He was from the Godfrey side of the family, a branch of the extended family that seem to have been able to preserve their youthful freshness and optimism even into old age. I never met a jaded Godfrey. They all seemed to be alive and awake and interested in the world in every minute detail, full of curiosity about everything, and with a mixture of bemused innocence and sage-like wisdom. Of course these are qualities that Janet Frame had in abundance too and that are so characteristic of her writings.

Here's a brief passage from "A Boy's Will", which is a story full of weather, as it is about a budding meteorologist :

Auckland this summer was a factory of storms.
Lightning, thunder, rain swept from West to East, Tasman to Pacific, rolling big smoke-white clouds like a bushfire in the sky with tongues of lightning darting and stabbing and the thunder exploding and more rain like sheets of aluminium falling. Peter dealt with each storm by recording it, calculating, experimenting. He collected and measured the rain in his rain-gauge, he read his barometer, his maximum and minimum thermometer, and then after such close disciplined reading he spent hours reading the sky, in agreeable free translation.