Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Yet another book about Janet Frame

There has been quite a rush of books written about Janet Frame in the last year or so, ranging from serious and authoritative overviews to, at the other end, the flaky and the downright crassly exploitative (there's even been a parasitic fanfic novel - a genre of questionable ethics and even more questionable merit - published by a university press no less!).

Janet Frame seems to provide a rich field for constructing theory and making speculations, even for indulging in fantasy.

None of the critics and commentators seem to agree with each other, but of course that's the point I suppose.

Here's another work for the bookshelves! Frame scholars will need to read it!

by Matthew St Pierre
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (2011)
(Also available on Kindle)

Frame fans, or those wishing to check out Frame for the first time, I'd hope would look to find some book by Frame herself that they haven't yet discovered.

You can hardly evaluate an analysis of her work without being familiar with it yourself. Or judge the usefulness of speculations about her life, without having read her own autobiography. Although people do!  
I did notice that many reviewers of the fan fiction novel that found an opportunistic enough publisher in NZ last year, were woefully ignorant of Frame's life and work - so much so that they made fools of themselves by gushing over how much they learnt about "Janet" in a novel that was not actually based on Frame or her work at all, but that merely co-opted her identity as a method to push yet another sidelined academic theory about her, the English professor/novelist inventing facts because if the real historical truth were told the patronising premise of the novel would have been unsupported.

Some of the Frame scholars have a mantra that Frame is "difficult" to read - they certainly make her seem so (and they're invested in wanting to help the reader 'understand' her), but Janet Frame is no more difficult to read than any of the other great authors, and she is certainly not as difficult to read as most of the books written about her, especially the ones that succumb to jargon and adhere to a particular school of thought, therefore performing calisthenics with Frame's oeuvre in order to fit it to the desired theoretical framework.

Almost everything Janet Frame published is currently in print somewhere in the world - but her work is also readily available internationally, in libraries or secondhand.

Beware - some hardback first editions are rare and priced for collectors only!

Also beware - some highly priced editions available on auction sites that purport to be rare, are actually still technically in print, and are available from the publisher or their distributor at retail prices.

Janet Frame's major English language publishers are:

And save some space on the shelf for a volume of Janet Frame's own previously uncollected and unpublished non-fiction,
to be published by Penguin NZ in November 2011.

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